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Obama deserves Nobel Prize: Tharoor

"They've given it to a person who has said that the America of today has its roots in the India of Gandhi and that's the kind of sentiment we like," Minister of State for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor said.

world Updated: Oct 14, 2009 08:40 IST

Minister of State for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor believes that US President Barack Obama truly deserves the Nobel Prize, amid global criticism that the award was premature.

President Obama has given a lot of people hope around the world and has helped in improving the image of the US, Tharoor said.

"The image of the US is in the finest shape it's been in a very long time, and that's because the rest of the world believes in the kind of leadership President Obama is bringing to his task," the former UN Under Secretary General said at the Colbert Report news show.

"He has given us hope," he said. "They've given it to a person who has said that the America of today has its roots in the India of Gandhi and that's the kind of sentiment we like," he said.

"He has talked about the policy of inclusion, he's given dialogue the importance it deserves in the world," he said, adding that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had written to Obama congratulating him precisely for these reasons.

Tharoor was responding to observations from show host Steven Colbert that the prize had been awarded at a time when Obama's presidency had not resulted any concrete results.

"Frankly, we come from the land of Mahatma Gandhi who never won the Nobel Prize, so we kind of feel that there is such a thing as waiting too long to give it to the right person," Tharoor said.

"Maybe giving it early is a welcome change," he noted.

Colbert also pointed out that recent polls indicated that Obama was the most popular global political figure, which has resulted in boosting US' popularity.

This is in sharp contrast to the reign of President George Bush whose ratings both within the US and around the world had hit rock bottom, he said.

However, some American experts have suggested that the international community is less aware of the failures of the Obama Administration.

Many politicians and scholars have contested that the prestigious prize should not be awarded for creating hope for a better future but for goals that have been achieved and a difference made for the better.

Responding to this, Tharoor told the audience, "You can make a difference and win the Nobel but you can use the Nobel to make a difference."

"Right now it looks like he's got a huge boost in the kind of efforts he has already begun to advance peace, dialogue, inclusiveness of other cultures," he said.

"These are the sorts of things the world wants to see him moving towards."

Meanwhile, the Norwegian Nobel Peace Prize committee has made a rare exception in defending its decision that has been called hasty.

"We simply disagree that he has done nothing," committee chairman Thorbjoern Jagland reportedly said on Tuesday.

"He got the prize for what he has done," he said, listing efforts like narrowing the rift within the Muslim world and backing down on a proposal for an anti-missile shield in Europe.

Noting that most criticism was coming from the media and political rivals, Jagland said the committee had followed guidelines set by Alfred Nobel, the Swedish industrialist who established the Nobel Prize.

"Alfred Nobel wrote that the prize should go to the person who has contributed most to the development of peace in the previous year," Jagland said. "Who has done more for that than Barack Obama?"