8888677771 | UPSC Essentials | Nobel Prizes 2023 — All you need to know | UPSC Current Affairs News

The beginning of October 2023, like every year, meant Nobel Prize season. The announcement of six prizes to new faces from around the globe consisting of the world’s most elite roster of scientists, writers, economists, and human rights leaders, does not just mean facts to remember. With the changing nature of UPSC Examinations, aspirants must prepare themselves for analytical questions and make the best use of news and editorials around Nobel Prizes, directly or indirectly, in essays, ethics, personality tests, and other GS Papers. Do not miss Points to Ponders, FYI, and Post Read Q&A.

Alfred Nobel, a Swedish chemist, engineer, industrialist, and the inventor of dynamite, in his last will and testament in 1895, gave the largest share of his fortune to a series of prizes in Physics, Chemistry, Physiology/Medicine, Literature, and Peace, to be called the “Nobel Prizes”.

— In 1968, the sixth award, the Prize in Economic Sciences was started by Sweden’s central bank, the Sveriges Riksbank.

— According to the official Nobel Prize website, between 1901 and 2023, the Prizes have been awarded 621 times, the recipients during this period being 965 Laureates (some received nobel prize more than once) and 27 organisations.

Nobel prize replicas Nobel Prize medals replicas are displayed inside the Norwegian Nobel Institute in Oslo, Norway September 19, 2022. REUTERS/Victoria Klesty

— The Nobel Prize consists of a Nobel Medal and Diploma, and a document confirming the prize amount.

Festive offer

— The Nobel Peace Prize is presented in Norway while the other awards are handed out in Sweden. That’s how Alfred Nobel wanted it.

— His exact reasons are unclear but during his lifetime Sweden and Norway were joined in a union, which was dissolved in 1905. Sometimes relations have been tense between the Nobel Foundation in Stockholm, which manages the prize money, and the fiercely independent peace prize committee in Oslo.

—The awardees of the 2023 Nobel Prize will receive in prize money Swedish kronor (SEK) 11.0 million for a full Prize.

How candidates are nominated?

—The Nobel Committees of four prize-awarding institutions every year invite thousands of members of academies, university professors, scientists, previous Nobel Laureates, and members of parliamentary assemblies among others to submit candidates for the Nobel Prizes for the coming year.

—As per the Nobel website, the nominators are selected in such a way that as many countries and universities as possible are represented over time. One cannot nominate himself/herself for a Nobel Prize.

—The nomination processes for every year starts in September of the previous year and ends on January 31 (except the Nobel Peace Prize, nominations for which close on February 1).

Nobel prize winners Pictures of Nobel Prize laureates are displayed inside the Norwegian Nobel Institute in Oslo, Norway September 19, 2022. (REUTERS)

—The Prizes are announced in October, and the Nobel Laureates receive their awards at The Nobel Prize Award Ceremony on December 10 in Stockholm. The names of the nominees cannot be revealed until 50 years later.

Which are the institutions that choose winners?

—The Nobel Committees of the prize-awarding institutions are responsible for the selection of the candidates, the institutions being:

Nobel Prizes 2023

2023 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine

— “The 2023 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine has been awarded to Katalin Karikó and Drew Weissman for their discoveries concerning nucleoside base modifications that enabled the development of effective mRNA vaccines against COVID-19,” the body said.

Nobel prize for medicine 2023 Scientists Katalin Kariko and Drew Weissman. (X/@NobelPrize)

—Kariko found a way to prevent the immune system from launching an inflammatory reaction against lab-made mRNA, previously seen as a major hurdle against any therapeutic use of mRNA.

—Together with Weissman, she showed in 2005 that adjustments to nucleosides, the molecular letters that write the mRNA’s genetic code, can keep the mRNA under the immune system’s radar.

Last year’s medicine prize went to Swede Svante Paabo for sequencing the genome of the Neanderthal, an extinct relative of present-day humans, and for discovering a previously unknown human relative, the Denisovans.

Point to Ponder: How Katalin Karikó and Drew Weissman’s ‘cutting edge technology’ helped us tame COVID-19? 

Anonna Dutt Explains:

—COVID-19 became the first ever pandemic during which a vaccine could be quickly developed and deployed to prevent infections and deaths. Never-before approved mRNA vaccines were used on humans and worked. The first two vaccines to be approved and deployed with this technology were rolled out by Pfizer and Moderna within a year.

—However, developing these vaccines would not have been possible without Katalin Karikó and Drew Weissman, whose breakthrough research laid the template in 2005 and ensured that mRNA vaccines were safe and did not lead to excessive inflammatory immune response. Both are winners of the Nobel Prize in Medicine or Physiology, 2023.

How do mRNA vaccines work and what did Kariko and Weissman find out?

All vaccines work on the same principle – getting the body acquainted with a non-lethal form of the pathogen so that the immune system learns to defend itself against infection. The mRNA vaccines carry the genetic code for the proteins that make up the non-lethal but key parts of a virus. For example, the COVID-19 vaccines used the codes for the spike protein used by Sars-CoV-2 to enter the body.

—Once injected, the vaccine uses the body’s own protein manufacturing centre to produce these viral proteins. The immune system then responds by creating antibodies against the viral protein and learns to fight the actual infection.

—Kariko and Weissman realised that the immune system was able to recognise the lab-developed mRNA molecules as foreign substances, leading to inflammatory reaction. However, this did not happen when mRNA derived from animal cell assays were used. This led them to look for properties in the lab-developed mRNA molecules that were tripping off the immune system.

—They found that the mRNA derived from the animal cell assays frequently contained various modifications that were not seen in the lab-developed uniform mRNA molecules.

How did they solve the inflammation problem with mRNA vaccines?

—To test whether the absence of these alterations were the reason the lab-developed molecules were considered to be foreign, while those from animal cells were not, Kariko and —Weissman produced different variants of mRNA with chemical alterations. When they used these altered mRNA, the results were striking. The changes to the mRNA completely did away with the inflammatory response.

Nobel prize 2023 for medicine In this undated image provided by Penn Medicine, Katalin Karikó and Drew Weissman pose for a photo at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. Karikó and Weissman won the Nobel Prize in medicine on Monday, Oct. 2, 2023, for discoveries that enabled the creation of mRNA vaccines against COVID-19 and that could be used to develop other shots in the future. (Peggy Peterson Photography/Penn Medicine via AP)

—Subsequent studies by the two showed that the altered mRNA generated more viral proteins efficiently as compared to the unaltered ones. These discoveries eliminated critical obstacles to clinical applications of mRNA.

What were the types of vaccines available before the pandemic?

—Two vaccine types with the complete virus have been in use for years. These include a live, attenuated vaccine, which has a weakened version of the pathogen, like the oral polio vaccine. The second type involves an inactivated vaccine that uses killed pathogens to elicit an immune response such as the rabies vaccine.

—With the progress of molecular biology and techniques to edit genetic codes, vaccines using small, non-lethal parts of the pathogen have been developed. These are called sub-unit vaccines.

—Some vaccines also encode these non-lethal parts to another pathogen that carries and distributes it through the body – an example of this was the AstraZeneca vaccine available in India as Covishield that used parts of the COVID-19 virus attached to an adenovirus. These are called vector vaccines.

—However, the challenge with all these types of vaccine is the need for animal cell assays, making it time-consuming and expensive to scale up. An additional problem with vector vaccines is that the immune system also develops responses to the carrier virus as well, making the booster shots not so effective.

—Vaccines sending in the DNA were considered to be an alternative but they failed in producing good response in humans as compared to what was seen in lab animals. This is because DNA vaccines need to undergo two steps as compared to just one by mRNA – the DNA has to be transcribed as mRNA before proteins are produced. The mRNA vaccines circumvent all these challenges. An additional advantage with mRNA vaccines is that the delivered genetic code cannot influence the human genome, making it safer than DNA vaccines.

What were the challenges to mRNA technology before the pandemic?

—The lab-based mRNA molecules were considered unstable and challenging to be delivered into the body in addition to the inflammatory responses. In addition to the research by Kariko and Weissman solving the issues of the inflammatory response and low production of protein, development of efficient fat molecules to carry the mRNA inside the body were key to the development of the vaccines.

What are the advantages of mRNA technology as compared to other vaccines?

—Not only are nucleic acid-based vaccines easy to manufacture; they are also flexible since the sequence can be easily modified for different pathogens. In the future, the technology may also be used to deliver therapeutic proteins and treat some cancer types.

—Several companies have been working on developing mRNA vaccines since 2010,with MERS-CoV being one of them, which closely resembles the Sars-CoV-2 virus that causes Covid-19. Protective effects of around 95 per cent were reported, and both vaccines were approved as early as December 2020.

Physics Nobel Prize 2023

—The Nobel Prize in Physics has been awarded to three scientists — Pierre Agostini of The Ohio State University in the US; Ferenc Krausz of the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics and Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich in Germany; and Anne L’Huillier of Lund University — “for experimental methods that generate attosecond pulses of light for the study of electron dynamics in matter.”

Nobel prize physics 2023 Scientists Pierre Agostini, Ferenc Krausz and Anne L’Huillier win 2023 Nobel Prize in Physics. (X/@NobelPrize)

Last year, three scientists — Alain Aspect, John F Clauser and Anton Zeilinger — shared the Nobel Prize in Physics for their work on quantum information science.

Point to Ponder: How did the discovery make it possible to watch electrons move?

Amitabh Sinha Explains:

—In our everyday lives, we are familiar with processes that happen so fast we are unable to observe them completely. For example, when a bullet is fired at an apple, we see the outcome — the smashed apple — but are unable to capture the entire process, which takes barely a few milliseconds. With the help of a camera that has a very high shutter-speed, it is possible to see every step of the bullet piercing the apple and coming out of it, destroying the apple in the process.

—But there are a lot of other processes in the universe that are incredibly faster, especially at atomic and subatomic levels. Atoms or molecules make movements, or changes, that take just a few picoseconds (a trillionth of a second, or 10-12 seconds) or femtoseconds (10-15 seconds).

—Scientists found innovative ways to observe these processes, using unimaginably short pulses of light, similar to using extremely high shutter-speed cameras. But then they hit a barrier.

A matter of attoseconds

—There were processes that were even faster, happening within a few attoseconds (thousandth of a femtosecond, or 10-18 second) — the motion of electrons within the atom, for instance. For a long time, femtosecond ‘photography’ was considered the limit. Production of shorter pulses of light, in the attosecond range, did not seem possible. Till the works of Pierre Agostini, Ferenc Krausz and Anne L’Huillier made it possible.

Attosecond science

—To observe any process, the measurement must be made at a pace quicker than the rate of change. That is how clear images of moving objects are generated: for example, by making the shutter open and close faster than the motion being captured. But there is a limit to how fast the shutter speed can be.

—Light pulses, the only plausible tool to capture processes at the atomic level, cannot be made indefinitely shorter. Light consists of waves, or vibrations in the electromagnetic field.

—The shortest possible pulse would have to be at least one cycle long, equivalent to its wavelength. For all sorts of light produced by laser systems, this cycle used to take at least a few femtoseconds to complete. This was longer than the sub-atomic motion that was happening in a matter of attoseconds. Scientists were therefore unable to glimpse the motion of electrons with existing technologies.

— “Femtosecond pulses had enabled scientists to observe the processes happening at the atomic or molecular level. But when one moves further down, at the sub-atomic level, things start to happen even faster. The dynamics of the electron, for example, are 100 to 1,000 times faster than that of the atom. A lot of that has to do with inertia. The atom is heavier, because of the nucleus, and has greater inertia. Lower the inertia, faster the dynamics,” said Sivarama Krishnan, an associate professor at IIT Madras, who uses femtosecond and attosecond light pulses to study the dynamics in nano-scale systems.

Potential uses

—Attosecond science has potential applications in a variety of areas, from electronics to medicine, across disciplines in physics, chemistry and biology.

— “One of the active areas of research using this technology is in medical science, particularly in finding therapies for cancer care,” said Kamal P Singh of IISER Mohali, who too works with femtosecond lasers.

Chemistry Nobel Prize 2023

—The 2023 Nobel Prize in Chemistry has been awarded to Moungi G. Bawendi, Louis E. Brus and Alexei I. Ekimov “for the discovery and synthesis of quantum dots.”

Nobel Prize Chemistry 2023 Scientists Moungi G. Bawendi, Louis E. Brus and Alexei I. Ekimov. (Twitter/@NobelPrize)

—The 2023 Nobel Prize in Chemistry rewards the discovery and development of quantum dots, nanoparticles so tiny that their size determines their properties. These particles have unique properties and now spread their light from television screens and LED lamps. They catalyse chemical reactions and their clear light can illuminate tumour tissue for a surgeon.

—Researchers have primarily utilised quantum dots to create coloured light. They believe that in the future quantum dots can contribute to flexible electronics, miniscule sensors, slimmer solar cells and perhaps encrypted quantum communication.

—Thanks to their work, nanoparticles with desired deviant behaviour have become an integral part of a variety of modern appliances, including television, computer screens, and LED lamps. There are a wide range of applications in biochemistry and medicine as well.

The 2022 Nobel Prize in chemistry was awarded in equal parts to Carolyn R Bertozzi, Morten Meldal and K Barry Sharpless for developing way of “snapping molecules together.”

Point to Ponder: Why is this year’s Nobel Prize in Chemistry significant?

Amitabh Sinha writes:

—Every element exhibits specific properties, usually determined by the number of electrons in its atoms and the distribution of these electrons around the nucleus. Also, every piece of a pure element exhibits exactly the same properties, regardless of its size. A piece of pure gold, for example, has properties very different from a piece of silver or any other element, but every piece of gold, whether it is a large 100-gram piece or a small 10 milligram one, has exactly the same properties. This is one of the fundamental facts of chemistry.

—Also, one of the most noticeable special properties of the nanoparticles becomes evident when they interact with light. The colour of any material depends on the wavelengths of the light spectrum absorbed or reflected by the material.

—About forty years ago, scientists started discovering something very remarkable. Very small particles, in the nanoscale range, were found to behave slightly differently from larger particles of the same element. A nanoparticle (sizes in the range of 1 to 100 billionth of a metre) of gold, for example, displayed properties different in some respects from larger particles of gold. Such deviant behaviour had been predicted in theory a few decades earlier, but never observed.

—Alexei Ekimov was the first to notice this deviant behaviour in Copper Chloride nanoparticles around 1980. He was also able to manufacture these nanoparticles to show this change in behaviour. However, as he was working in the erstwhile USSR then, his finding was largely unknown in the rest of the world.

—A few years later, Louis Brus, an American scientist working independently, discovered similar behaviour in Cadmium Sulphide nanoparticles. He too was able to create these nanoparticles with changed properties. Moungi Bawendi, who worked with Brus in the initial part of the career, later developed easier methods to efficiently produce nanoparticles that showed some desired deviant behaviour.

What are quantum dots?

—The deviant behaviour of small nanoparticles arises because of the emergence of quantum effects. The motion and behaviour of very small particles, like electrons, are radically different, and strange, when compared with any familiar object in normal human experience. Such strange behaviour at the sub-atomic level is described by the hugely successful Quantum Theory, developed by physicists 100 years ago.

—But nanoparticles are much larger compared with atoms. Depending on the size of the atom, a nanoparticle can pack in thousands to millions of atoms. However, it was theorised, in the 1930s itself, that when the size of particles was reduced to nanoscale, it could give rise to quantum effects.

—This was mainly because electrons were constrained in a small space. Usually, electrons move around in a large empty space, relatively speaking, outside the nucleus of the atom. But when the size of the particles is reduced drastically, electrons in the atoms find themselves increasingly squeezed. And this, it was thought, could give rise to the strange quantum effects.

—This is what Ekimov and Brus noticed, and this is what they were able to create in their laboratories — nano-sized particles that behaved slightly differently than larger particles of the same element. These nanoparticles with special properties were called quantum dots.

Literature Nobel Prize 2023

—The Nobel Prize for Literature 2023 has been awarded to Norwegian author Jon Olav Fosse, for his “innovative plays and prose which give voice to the unsayable” , the Nobel Academy said on Thursday (October 5).

nobel prize 2023 for literature Each year, since 1901, the Nobel Prize has been announced for achievements in the sciences, literature and peace. (Source: X/Nobel Prize)

— “Jon Fosse presents everyday situations that are instantly recognisable in our own lives. His radical reduction of language and dramatic action expresses the most powerful human emotions of anxiety and powerlessness in the simplest terms. It is through laureate Jon Fosse’s ability to evoke man’s loss of orientation, and how this paradoxically can provide access to a deeper experience close to divinity, that he has come to be regarded as a major innovator in contemporary theatre, the Nobel Prize’s official handle posted on X.

—Last year the prize went to French author Annie Ernaux (2022).

Who is Jon Fosse?

—Fosse writes in Norwegian Nynorsk, the least common of the two official versions of Norwegian. After winning the Nobel, he said he regarded the award as a recognition of this language and the movement promoting it, and that he ultimately owed the prize to the language itself, reported Reuters.

—His “A New Name: Septology VI-VII”, about two painters, both named Asle but with different lives and demons and preoccupations, was a finalist for the International Booker Prize last year.

—Other notable works by Fosse include I Am the Wind, Melancholy, Boathouse, and The Dead Dogs.

—His writing style, characterised by simple, minimal, searing dialogue, is considered similar to Samuel Beckett and Harold Pinter, both of whom have won the Nobel earlier.

—His themes explore the absurdity, the futility and yet the power of the human condition; everyday confusions and irresolutions; and the difficulty to form actual connections, despite — and sometimes because of — conversation.

—While Fosse has been celebrated in Europe for a long time, he is not that popular in the United Kingdom or in the UK, and that has impacted his visibility in the rest of the English-speaking world, like in India.

—It has been said that the UK and the US find his themes difficult to relate to, and his plays difficult to connect with. In 2014, in a review of his ‘I Am the Wind’, about two men stranded on a boat, The New York Times wrote, “…you can understand why his work might not appeal to the Anglo-Saxon sensibility, which has never been celebrated for its embrace of ambiguity. And red lights are sure to flash in the minds of certain theatergoers when they hear that the characters in “I Am the Wind” are identified as the One and the Other.”

—In recent years, however, his popularity has increased in these geographies too.

Point to ponder: What’s so special with this year’s Nobel Prize winner for Literature?

The ability to listen — to words and to silence — is a rare quality. For Fosse, it has been a transformational gift, allowing the 64-year-old to tap into the rhythms of the quotidian and the exceptional. In works such as Red Black, Melancholy I, Melancholy II, Morning and Evening, and Septology, his epic novel written in a single sentence, the writer has explored the Derridean philosophy: What cannot be said must not be silenced, but written. Like last year’s winner, the French writer Annie Ernaux, Fosse, too, has plumbed the depths of personal experience — a near-fatal accident when he was a child, his brief wondrous life as a Communist hippie, his turn towards spirituality and conversion to Catholicism in 2012 — to explore the boundaries between the private, the personal and the universal with Beckettian precision.

The Nobel committee’s recognition of Fosse, who writes in Norwegian Nynorsk, a minority language, is both a subtle political statement and a reiteration of his eminence in continental Europe. In Norway, Fosse is an institution, with an annual international festival in Oslo dedicated to disseminating his poetry, essays, novels and plays; his plays are performed liberally across Europe. The foregrounding of his prose — spartan, and prophetic in its ability to examine nuance — that is only now making its way to the rest of the world through translations, shows the timeless potency of literature to map the universal and the political through visceral self-introspection.

(Excerpt from Editorial dated October 6,2023)

Nobel Peace Prize 2023

—Jailed Iranian activist Narges Mohammadi was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her fight against the oppression of women in Iran and promoting human rights and freedom for all.

nobel peace prize 2023 Narges Mohammadi was arrested in November last year after she attended a memorial for a victim of violent 2019 protests. (Photo: X/@NobelPrize)

—Authorities arrested Mohammadi in November after she attended a memorial for a victim of violent 2019 protests. Before being jailed, Mohammadi was vice president of the banned Defenders of Human Rights Centre in Iran. Mohammadi has been close to Iranian Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi, who founded the centre.

—Mohammadi is currently serving multiple sentences in Tehran’s Evin Prison amounting to about 12 years imprisonment, according to the Front Line Defenders rights organisation, one of the many periods she has been detained behind bars. Charges include spreading propaganda against the state.

—Mohammadi is the 19th woman to win the 122-year-old prize and the first one since Maria Ressa of the Philippines won the award in 2021 jointly with Russia’s Dmitry Muratov.

—Human rights groups from Russia and Ukraine — Memorial and the Center for Civil Liberties — won the 2022 Nobel Peace Prize, along with the jailed Belarusian advocate Ales Bialiatski.

Economics Nobel Prize 2023

—The Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences, the final prize of this year’s Nobels season, was awarded to Claudia Goldin “for having advanced our understanding of women’s labour market outcomes.”

nobel prize economics 2023 Claudia Goldin is only the third woman to win the Nobel Economics Prize. (Photo: X/@NobelPrize)

—Goldin is only the third woman to win the prize, which was announced by Hans Ellegren, secretary-general of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, in Stockholm.

—In Goldin’s analysis, a woman’s role in the job market and the pay she receives aren’t influenced just by broad social and economic changes. They also are determined partly by her individual decisions about, for example, how much education to get.

—Last year’s winners were former Federal Reserve Chair Ben Bernanke, Douglas W. Diamond and Philip Dybvig for their research into bank failures that helped shape America’s aggressive response to the 2007-2008 financial crisis.

—Only two of the 92 economics laureates honoured have been women.

Point to Ponder: What’s so special of this year’s Nobel Prize for Economics?

Udit Misra writes:

—While explaining why the Academy chose Goldin, the jury noted that Goldin had provided “the first comprehensive account of women’s earnings and labour market participation through the centuries. Her research reveals the causes of change, as well as the main sources of the remaining gender gap.”

—The fact is that world over, women are vastly underrepresented in the labour market. In other words, compared with men, a lower percentage of women come out of home demanding work and a lower percentage hold jobs. Moreover, when they do join the workforce, they end up earning less than men.

—What explains these results? What causes women to join the workforce and what causes them to leave it? Is it a linear relationship between economic growth and women’s involvement in the labour market? In other words, does the proportion of women with jobs always rise when an economy grows, or can it fall as well? What about the role of education, marriage and child birth? Similarly, how and why does the pay structure differ between men and women? All these are important questions for any economy and its policymakers.

—To answer these, Goldin started looking at historical data in the United States. “Claudia Goldin has trawled the archives and collected over 200 years of data from the US, allowing her to demonstrate how and why gender differences in earnings and employment rates have changed over time,” said the Academy. What she found fundamentally changed the world’s understanding.

—For instance, before Goldin’s path-breaking book was published in 1990, it was widely believed — based only on data from the 20th century — that there was a clear positive association between economic growth and the number of women in paid employment. But Goldin’s study showed this was not true.

— “Goldin showed that female participation in the labour market did not have an upward trend over this entire period, but instead forms a U-shaped curve. The participation of married women decreased with the transition from an agrarian to an industrial society in the early nineteenth century, but then started to increase with the growth of the service sector in the early twentieth century. Goldin explained this pattern as the result of structural change and evolving social norms regarding women’s responsibilities for home and family,” said the Academy.

—Similarly, Goldin demonstrated that access to the contraceptive pill played an important role by offering new opportunities for career planning.

—On the topic of the earnings gap between men and women, data shows that despite modernisation, economic growth, and rising proportions of employed women in the 20th century, for a long period of time the earnings gap hardly closed.

— “According to Goldin, part of the explanation is that educational decisions, which impact a lifetime of career opportunities, are made at a relatively young age. If the expectations of young women are formed by the experiences of previous generations – for instance, their mothers, who did not go back to work until the children had grown up – then development will be slow,” the Nobel citation said.

—Historically, much of the gender gap in earnings could be explained by differences in education and occupational choices. However, Goldin has shown that the bulk of this earnings difference is now between men and women in the same occupation, and that it largely arises with the birth of the first child.

— “Understanding women’s role in the labour market is important for society. Thanks to Claudia Goldin’s groundbreaking research we now know much more about the underlying factors and which barriers may need to be addressed in the future,” said Jakob Svensson, Chair of the Committee for the Prize in Economic Sciences.

JUST FYI: The Nobel Prize and India

— The following Indians (or individuals of Indian origin) have been honoured with the Nobel: Rabindranath Tagore (Literature, 1913), C V Raman (Physics, 1930), Hargobind Khorana (Medicine, 1968), Mother Teresa (Peace, 1979), Subramanian Chandrashekhar (Physics, 1983), the Dalai Lama (Peace, 1989), Amartya Sen (Economics, 1998), Venkatraman Ramakrishnan (2009), Kailash Satyarthi (Peace, 2014), Abhijit Vinayak Banerjee (Economics, 2019)

— The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) under the chairmanship of R K Pachauri won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007.

— The Nobel Prize website laments not giving the Peace Prize to Mahatma Gandhi. Under the section ‘Mahatma Gandhi, the missing laureate’, the website says: “Up to 1960, the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded almost exclusively to Europeans and Americans. In retrospect, the horizon of the Norwegian Nobel Committee may seem too narrow. Gandhi was very different from earlier Laureates. He was no real politician or proponent of international law, not primarily a humanitarian relief worker and not an organiser of international peace congresses. He would have belonged to a new breed of Laureates.”

— The legendary physicists Meghnad Saha and Satyendranath Bose are two other glaring Indian exclusions in the list of Nobel Laureates. Both Saha and Bose were nominated multiple times, but ignored by the Nobel Committee.

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POST READ Q&A: What does it take to win a Nobel?

( Thought Process: Patience, for one. Scientists often have to wait decades to have their work recognised by the Nobel judges, who want to make sure that any breakthrough withstands the test of time. That’s a departure from Nobel’s will, which states that the awards should endow “those who, during the preceding year, shall have conferred the greatest benefit to mankind.” The peace prize committee is the only one that regularly rewards achievements made in the previous year. According to Nobel’s wishes, that prize should go to “the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses.” What do you think, from the perspective of your exams and life in general?)

Share your views, answers and suggestions in the comment box or at manas.srivastava@indianexpress.com

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