The Financial Express

Awarding the struggle for truth

| Updated: October 12, 2021 21:38:50

Awarding the struggle for truth

This year's Nobel Peace Prize has gone to two journalists. The chairwoman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, Berit Reiss-Andersen, while awarding the journalist duo, Maria Ressa and Dmitry Muratov, 2021's Nobel Peace Prize, said the pair were being honoured "for their efforts to safeguard freedom of expression, which is a precondition for democracy and lasting peace."  Maria Ressa has been fighting for free speech from authoritarian ruler Rodrigo Duterte's Philippines and Muratov from Vladimir Putin's Russia. Nobel Prize's founder Alfred Nobel's very objective of the prize was to promote peace and discourage war. But peace was never established without a war-a war against all wars. From the beginning of the prize since 1901, the peace prize has gone to people who fought for peace defying the browbeating, torture and intimidation of the powers that be. Alfred Nobel, who invented dynamite, was horrified to see the destructive power of what he made. In fact, Nobel's explosive mixture marketed as Safety Blasting Powder (it was the mixture of dynamite's main ingredient, nitrolglycerin, with an absorbent of powdered shells or clay and stabiliser) did not prove so safe when his younger brother, Emil, along with several others, was killed in a blast in his factory. It was a personal tragedy that infused altruism in Alfred Nobel, who was once satirized as 'merchant of death" in a newspaper because, the company he owned, Bofors, manufactured war weapons like cannon. Such criticism notwithstanding, Alfred Nobel was definitely not driven by crass commercialism as it was later demonstrated through his philanthropic work. As such, there is nothing like personal experience that can turn even an uninspired, earthy materialist into a warrior for a cause. In its real spirit the Nobel Peace Prize is meant to recognise people or institutions for their struggle in the cause of peace. Ideally, a journalist's struggle should be to unveil the truth with her/his investigative pen. But this quest for what this five-letter English word, 'truth' conveys has proved to be the most difficult and dangerous enterprise humans ever undertook. All great social reformers, poets, philosophers and revolutionaries were essentially after the truths about the injustices the common people suffered due to inequalities in society perpetuated by the powerful and the rich whose interests the state served and still serve. Journalists in modern society have now taken on the revolutionary's mantle.     

Russian journalist Dmitry Muratov, the co-winner of the Nobel Peace prize with the Filipino, Maria Ressa, for example, had six reporters and contributors of his paper, Novaya Gazeta, murdered. Their fault was that they went too far in their courageous reporting on establishment corruption and war crimes in Chechnya. Muratov, however, has survived in the face of all kinds of threat and intimidation to be honoured by the Nobel Committee with peace prize. Since the dedication and sacrifices of his colleagues lay behind the international recognition of his journalistic struggle, Muratov dedicated his Nobel Prize to his colleagues-Igor Domnikov, Yuri Shcheckochikhin, Anna Stepanovna Politkovskaya, Anastasia Baburova, Natalya Estemirova and Stas Markelov.  Consider that of the six journalists assassinated, six were women. How courageously female journalists and human rights activists in Russia fight shoulder to shoulder with their male co-workers against their common enemy, the suppressors of truth!

Muratov's Filipino, fellow journalist, Maria Ressa, too, underwent similar ordeals in her war against the administration's abuse of power, use of violence and despotism by those in state power. She was one of the founders of the digital news portal Rappler in 2012 to continue her struggle in the cause of press freedom and against authoritarianism. She fought cases and faced arrests multiple times. She along with her colleague Reynaldo Santos Jr. was convicted of cybercrime libel.  Along with the rest of the world we congratulate Maria and Dmitry Muratov on their getting the coveted Nobel Peace Prize. No doubt, they eminently deserve the prize. But it needs also to be stressed that the conviction they stand for is greater than any prize.

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