Thursday, October 05, 2006

It's that time of the year again

Some of our readers might have noticed that it is that time of the year again – Nobel Prize time. The science prizes are being announced even as we write with economics, literature and the much-coveted peace prize to come.

I would not dare to discuss the science prizes, understanding next to nothing of the achievements for which they are being given out. Undoubtedly, ferocious debates go on in the various scientific communities about their respective prizes. But, whichever way one looks at it, there are definite achievements of varying importance under discussion.

Then we come to economics. It is not technically a Nobel Prize at all, but a Bank of Sweden Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel, instituted in 1969 by Sveriges Riksbank but awarded by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences at the same time as the “real” prizes.

This one is a little trickier, economics not being a science and its achievements not being disconnected from politics. The awards, therefore, go to people according to what happens to be the accepted economic theory of the day. On the other hand, it does from time go to highly reputable economists.

The two really contentious ones are the literature and peace prizes. The first of these, as we recall, was awarded to Harold Pinter CH (that’s Companion of Honour, for our non-British readers) last year. Whether his writings do fall easily under the citation for the prize that is to be awarded to
“the person who shall have produced in the field of literature the most outstanding work of an idealistic tendency”
is questionable.

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