When India is governed by a Chor-Chowkidar with a fake BA degree, it is reassuring to see that all countries in the world are not so unlucky. These days, I have turned into an ardent fan of Jacinda Ardern, the New Zealand Prime Minister. She is a statesman, a great human being whose humanity should be an eye-opener for hate-mongers like Messers Trump and Modi.
New Zealand is a small country discovered by Captain Cook. For the Indians, the best-known New Zealander is Sir Edmund Hillary. Hillary, along with Tenjing Norgay, was the first to conquer the Mount Everest. An Indophile, Sir Hillary served as the High Commissioner of New Zealand in India for years. Cricket is another link that brings India and New Zealand together. As Commonwealth countries, we play cricket regularly. And for those who are interested in trivia, New Zealand brings to mind kiwi, a flightless bird native to New Zealand.
New Zealanders are often called Kiwis. But Jacinda Ardern? Few Indians knew her before the Christchurch mosque massacre. I came to know Jacinda when she went to the United Nations in New York with her cute baby. She looked like a lady next-door. A doting mother, holding her bundle of joy.
In the feudal India where even a Mukhiaji struts like a peacock, it was refreshing to see a Prime Minister so down to earth. But the handling of the bloody Christchurch massacre was Jacinda ‘s most glorious moment. She was the Prime Minister and Mother Teresa rolled into one. She put a scarf on her head and embraced the bereaved Muslim ladies. (Just remember our own Narendra Modi who refused to wear a scull-cap offered by a Muslim!). Jacinda announced that she would increase the quota of refugees.
The New Zealand Parliament opened with recitation from the Holy Quran. No trace of Islamophobia! After the 9/11 attacks on the Twin Towers in 2001, the Planet Earth has turned Islamophobic. It has become a fashion to criticise Islam and Muslims. Even those Hindus who themselves offer milk to Ganesha idols criticise Muslims for their blind faith in religion! But Jacinda Ardern chose a path of her own. Ekla chalo re. She showed the world that hatred can’t be fought with hatred. As Gandhiji said: An eye for an eye will make the whole world blind. Jacinda is no ordinary lady. She embodies love and harmony. And the language of love is understood universally. Jacinda ‘s image was shown on the Burj Khalifa, the world’ s tallest building in Dubai. And I think if Jacinda fights election from Dubai, she will make the local Emir lose his deposit.
I recall a fairy tale: Snow White And Seven Dwarfs. If Jacinda Ardern is Snow White, world leaders like Trump, Putin, Modi, Jinping etc are dwarfs. Such is her stature after the Christchurch massacre. In Oct – Nov 2019, the Nobel Committe will announce the Nobel Peace Prize. There will be several contenders. But I nominate Jacinda Ardern for the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize.
The Nobel Peace Prizes have always been controversial. It was never awarded to Gandhiji. It was awarded to Aung Saan Suu Kyi who has been shamelessly overseeing Rohingya Muslims’ ethnic cleansing in Myanmar. But it is the time for the Nobel Committe to redeem its honour. Let the Commitee give the Nobel Peace Prize to Jacinda Ardern, the harbinger of peace. It will be a big slap in the face of Trumps and Modis who build walls, not bridges!
(Amitabh Kumar Das is a retired IPS Officer.)