Ever since mankind has evolved the world has witnessed many breathtaking inventions, discoveries and contributions. These laudable works has been done by the legendary people in their respective field of Physics, Medicine, Chemistry, Physiology, Literature and Peace.
But the people who do outstanding contribution for the benefit of human being in any aspect are awarded a special honour called the Nobel Prize. The Nobel Prizes are widely regarded as the most prestigious awards all over the world given for intellectual achievement in the field of Physics, Chemistry, Literature, Medicine or Physiology and Economics.
Till 1969, the Nobel Prize was awarded in five categories, when the Sveriges Riksbank instituted the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in 1968. Although it is not an official Nobel Prize, its announcements and presentations are made along with the other prizes.
Professor Amartya Sen (born 1933) was the first Indian to receive the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics in 1998 for his work on welfare economics. He has made several key contributions to research in this field, such as to the axiomatic theory of social choice; the definitions of welfare and poverty indexes; and the empirical studies of famine. All are linked by his interest in distributional issues and particularly in those most impoverished.
Whereas Kenneth Arrow's "impossibility theorem" suggested that it was not possible to aggregate individual choices into a satisfactory choice for society as a whole, Sen showed that societies could find ways to alleviate such a poor outcome.
The Nobel Prizes, instituted in 1901, are bestowed annually by the Scandinavian committees (Denmark, Norway, Sweden, usually Finland and Iceland) in recognition of cultural and scientific advances. The Peace Prize is awarded in Oslo, Norway, while the other prizes are awarded in Stockholm, Sweden. Each Nobel Prize is regarded as the most prestigious award in its respective field and is administered by the Nobel Foundation in Stockholm, Sweden.
The man behind the foundation of the Nobel Prize is Alfred Bernhard Nobel, a Swedish scientist, inventor, entrepreneur, author and pacifist. The foundations for the prize were laid in 1895 when Nobel wrote his last will, leaving much of his wealth to the establishment of the Nobel Prize. Nobel amassed a vast fortune during his lifetime and most of his wealth came from his 355 inventions, of which dynamite is the most famous.
In 1888, Nobel’s brother Ludvig died while visiting Cannes and a French newspaper erroneously published Nobel's obituary. It condemned him for his invention of dynamite and is said to have brought about his decision to leave a better legacy after his death. The obituary stated ("The merchant of death is dead") and the headlines read, "Dr. Alfred Nobel, who became rich by finding ways to kill more people faster than ever before, died yesterday."
Nobel was left shattered was heartbroken with what he read and thought how he would be remembered after his death. On November 27, 1895, at the Swedish-Norwegian Club in Paris, Nobel signed his last will and testament and set aside the bulk of his estate to establish the Nobel Prizes. On December 10, 1896 Nobel died in his villa in San Remo, Italy from acerebral haemorrhage. He was 63-years-old.
After taxes and bequests to individuals, Nobel's will gave 31,225,000 Swedish kronor (equivalent to about 1.8 billion kronor or 250 million US dollars in 2008) to fund the prizes.
Nobel, in his will, stipulated that "no consideration be given to the nationality of the candidates, but that the most worthy shall receive the prize, whether he be Scandinavian or not." And so, six years later, in 1901, the first Nobel Prizes were awarded to 3 Germans, 2 Frenchmen, and a Swiss.
The highlight of the Nobel Prize Award Ceremony in Stockholm is when each Nobel Laureate receives the Nobel Prize from the hands of His Majesty the King of Sweden. In Oslo, the Chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee presents the Nobel Peace Prize in the presence of the King of Norway. Under the eyes of a watching world, the Nobel Laureate receives three things: a diploma, a medal and a document confirming the prize amount.
Each Nobel Diploma is a unique work of art, created by foremost Swedish and Norwegian artists and calligraphers. The Literature diploma is written in parchment reminiscent of those used by medieval book illustrators. The other diplomas use specially ordered hand-made paper.
The Nobel medals in Physics, Chemistry, Physiology or Medicine and Literature are identical on the face: it shows the image of Alfred Nobel and the years of his birth and death (1833-1896). Nobel's portrait also appears on the Nobel Peace Prize Medal and the Medal for the Prize in Economic Sciences, but with a slightly different design. The image on the reverse varies according to the institution awarding the prize. All medals made before 1980 were struck in 23 carat gold. Today, they are made from 18 carat green gold plated with 24 carat gold.
The laureates are given a cash amount when they receive their prizes, in the form of a document confirming the amount awarded. The amount of prize money depends upon how much money the Nobel Foundation can award each year. The purse has increased since the 1980s, when the prize money was 880 000 SEK (c. 2.6 million SEK or USD 350 000 today). In 2009, the monetary award was 10 million SEK (USD 1.4 million).
If there are two laureates in a particular category, the award grant is divided equally between the recipients. If there are three, the awarding committee has the option of dividing the grant equally, or awarding one-half to one recipient and one-quarter to each of the others. Many of the recipients donate prize money to benefit scientific, cultural, or humanitarian causes.
The prize is financed by the Nobel Foundation, a private institution established in 1900 based on the will of Alfred Nobel. The Foundation manages the assets made available through the will. It represents the Nobel Institutions externally and administers informational activities and arrangements surrounding the presentation of the Nobel Prize. The Foundation also administers the Nobel Symposium Program.
The prizes are awarded each year in the months of October and November. The selection of the prizewinners starts in the early autumn of the preceding year, when the prize-awarding institutions invite more than 6,000 people throughout the world to propose, or nominate, candidates for the prizes; about 1,000 people submit their nominations for each prize.
Among those invited to nominate candidates are previous Nobel laureates; members of the prize-awarding institutions themselves; scholars active in the fields of physics, chemistry, and physiology or medicine; and officials and members of diverse universities and learned academies. Self-nomination automatically disqualifies the person.
The Nobel Prize is like winning a Grammy for your brain. India has its own share of Nobel Prize winners over the decades in several fields and till now only ten Indians have been honoured, but only five of these are or were Indian citizens, and four of Indian origin.
Rabindranath Tagore (Literature), Sir Chandrasekhara Venkata Raman (Physics) Dr. Amartya Sen (Economics), Ronald Ross (Physiology), Rudyard Kipling (Literature), Mother Teresa (Peace), Hargobind Khorana (Medicine & Physiology), Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar (Physics), Venkatraman 'Venki' Ramakrishnan (Chemistry) and V.S. Naipaul (Literature).
The Nobel Prizes for the year 2010 were given to the following individuals. Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov received the Nobel Prize in Physics for groundbreaking experiments regarding the two-dimensional material grapheme. Richard F. Heck, Ei-ichi Negishi and Akira Suzuki received in the field of chemistry for palladium-catalyzed cross couplings in organic synthesis. The Nobel Prize in Physiology or medicine went to Robert G. Edwards for the development of in vitro fertilization.
Mario Vargas Llosa received the prize in literature for his cartography of structures of power and his trenchant images of the individual's resistance, revolt, and defeat. Liu Xiaobo received the Nobel Peace prize for his long and non-violent struggle for fundamental human rights in China. Peter A. Diamond, Dale T. Mortensen and Christopher A. Pissarides received the prize in Economic sciences for their analysis of markets with search frictions.
Like the other prestigious awards, the Nobel Prize too has its share of controversaries and criticisms. The Nobel Committees have been accused of having a political agenda, and of omitting more deserving candidates. They have also been accused of Eurocentrism. This is especially true for the Literature Prize.
One of the controversial Peace Prizes was the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize awarded to U.S. President Barack Obama. Nominations had closed only eleven days after Obama took office as President, but the actual evaluation occurred over the next eight months. Obama himself stated that he did not feel he deserved the award.
Apart from this many believe that some personalities with widely recognized contributions laudable have been overlooked. The Norwegian Nobel Committee confirmed that Mahatma Gandhi was nominated for the Peace Prize in 1937–39, 1947 and a few days before he was assassinated in January 1948. Later members of the Norwegian Nobel Committee expressed regret that he was not given the prize.
In 1948, the year of Gandhi's death, the Nobel Committee declined to award a prize on the grounds that "there was no suitable living candidate" that year. Later, when the Dalai Lama was awarded the Peace Prize in 1989, the chairman of the committee said that this was "in part a tribute to the memory of Mahatma Gandhi.”
Nobel stated in his will that the Nobel Prizes in Physics should be given "to the person who shall have made the most important 'discovery' or 'invention' within the field of physics." Nobel did not emphasize discoveries, but they have historically been held in higher respect by the Nobel Prize Committee than inventions: 77% of the Physics Prizes have been given to discoveries, compared with only 23% to inventions.
Whatever may be the case the Nobel Prize has still not lost its sheen and continues to recognize men and women from all corners of the globe for their outstanding achievements in the field of physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine, literature and peace.
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