US President Donald Trump might be in the news for getting nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize. Back home, however, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been grabbing headlines for a rather unusual and dubious honour - the Ig Nobel Prize.
In 2020, PM Modi became the second Indian Prime Minister to get the Ig Noble award for “using the COVID-19 pandemic to teach the world that politicians can have a more immediate effect on life and death than scientists can".
But what is the Ig Noble awards?
Ig Noble awards are satirical honours given to celebrate minor scientific achievements. It is given out every year by the humour-science magazine ‘Annals of Improbable Research’ which specifically focuses on humorous coverage of news and current scientific events. It is presented by Nobel laureates at a ceremony in Harvard University’s Sanders Theatre in front of a live audience of about a thousand or so people. The awards are meant to be in good humour and not meant to be taken seriously as a commemoration of scientific achievement.
How many Indians have won the Ig Noble prizes?
PM Modi is the second Indian PM to win an Ig Noble. The first was Atal Bihari Vajpayee in 1998 who was given the honour for his “aggressively peaceful" detonation of a nuclear weapon. Not just PMs, several other Indians have won Ig Noble in several categories including Public Health, Peace, and math. In 2003, Lal Bihari won it for creating the Association of Dead People. K.P. Sreekumar and G. Nirmalan won it in 2002 for calculating the surface area of an elephant. Chittaranjan Andrade and BS Srihari won the honour for establishing that children do indeed pick their noses.
Why has PM Modi been awarded the Ig Noble?
PM Modi has been awarded the Ig Noble 2020 for his contribution to medical education. In the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, PM Modi has been lauded for his efforts to contain the crisis. Critics, however, have raised questions on the government’s handling of unemployment as well as its lax attitude when it came to compiling data on job loss and deaths of migrant and health workers. The government has, however, made several efforts to spread awareness about coronavirus and educate the masses about essential guidelines such as wearing face masks.
Who is PM Modi sharing the Ig Noble 2020 with?
PM Modi is not the only recipient of the Ig Noble 2020 for medical education. He shares the prize with Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro, UK’s Boris Johnson, Recep Tayyip Erdogan from Turkey, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Turkmenistan’s Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, Belarus’s Alexander Lukashenko, Andrés Manuel López Obrador of Mexico and the United States President Donald Trump.
Are the Ig Noble aware the same as the Nobel Prize?
No, they are not. Ig Noble is a play on the word ‘ignoble’ and is not really a real award but a parody award given for odd and rather quirky “accomplishments". They are not to be confused with the Nobel prizes which are given for actual achievements that impact the world in positive ways. The Ig Psychology award this year, for instance, has been given to the Canadian Miranda Giacomin and American Nicholas Rule for “devising a method to identify narcissists by examining their eyebrows." That being said, Nobel laureates themselves are known to have won an Ig Noble. Before jointly winning a Nobel Prize in Physics in 2010, physicist Andre Geim shared an Ig Noble award for Physics in the year 2000. Why? He levitated a frog using magnets.
Not just medical education, India also jointly shared the Ig Peace Prize with Pakistan for their “doorbell campaign".