New Delhi: Amid speculations swirling around this year’s list of nominees for the Nobel Peace Prize, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s name has appeared as a likely contender. The founder of the Art of Living Foundation, Sri Sri joins the long list that includes peace negotiators in the Latin American country of Columbia as well as an 85-year-old Greek grandmother refugee and Hollywood actress Susan Sarandon. However, a spokesperson for the foundation said they were not aware of any such development.
A report published by Thomson Reuters Foundation in its blog on February 1 read, “The Norwegian Nobel Institute does not publish names of nominees, but Nobel watchers have said former US spy agency contractor Edward Snowden and peace negotiators in Colombia have also been nominated.”
The Art of Living Foundation has played a significant role in attempting to bring peace in Columbia since November 2012. In fact, the Columbian government had in July last year honoured Sri Sri with their highest civilian award, ‘Orden de la Democracia Simón Bolívar’, in recognition of this. During his visit to Cuba in 2015, the Indian spiritual leader had also held discussions with leaders of the FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) as part of a confidence building measure in Columbia.
Christoph Glaser, spokesman for the Art of Living Foundation in the region, was at the time quoted by media saying, “Sri (Sri) Ravi Shankar had then appealed to the FARC leadership to follow a path of non-violence and pursue goals of social justice for the good of the Colombian people and the future stability of the country.” The Art of Living Foundation is one of the world’s largest volunteer based organization with members in over 150 countries. Apart from promoting peace, the foundation is involved in several community development services in India and in countries where it has followers.
The government of India conferred the Padma Vibhushan, the second highest civilian honour, on Sri Sri Ravi Shankar this January. Nominations for the coveted peace prize closed on February 1 and the winner will be announced sometime around October this year. The peace prize also comes with a cash reward of $1.2 million.
Since the first Nobel Peace Prize was awarded in 1902, only three Indians have received it so far – Mother Teresa (1979), founder of Missionaries of Charity, the 14th Dalai Lama (1989), head of the Tibetan government in exile, and children’s rights and education advocate Kailash Satyarthi (2014) who shared the distinction with Malala Yousafzai of Pakistan.