I am posting this a good few months late, but better late than never eh?
A few months ago there was a twitterstorm after Richard Dawkins made the following tweet:
All the world's Muslims have fewer Nobel Prizes than Trinity College, Cambridge. They did great things in the Middle Ages, though.
Naturally many people jumped up in outrage at this. Others jumped up agreeing with him.
Most debate was about how current political situation impacts on the nobel prizes being given out. Not much was on how they are given out.
A Nobel Peace prize is not a neutral prize. It is chosen by people. Just this year there was support for another (very young) Muslim to be given a peace prize - Malala Yusufzai. This was based on the extraordinary works done while so young (that even involved taking a bullet to the head). However at the same time there was a backlash over "white supremacy" where she may be being supported for the prize because of her unique role where she is seen as the victimised girl who is standing up against "brown barbarity". In the end she didn't win. The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons which assembled to destroy Syria's chemical stock at some point in the then future was given the prize instead. Before it had carried out its job.
Before then another winner was President Obama. Before he had done anything other than win an election, simply based on the promise that he would be a world saviour.
Yes, this is the peace prize and not one of the others that may be slightly less subjective (but I doubt that is often the case), but it illustrates a point - a prize created in the western world that normally rewards western endeavour cannot be used to judge people who are not western.
The prize and its processes are not neutral and were not meant as something to judge nations by but to simply reward achievements or as it now seems often enough to encourage hope of potential achievements.
Besides not all laureates are equal - how can you compare the peace prize given to Barak Obama and the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons to the one given for example to Nobel Laureate Tawakkol Karman?
You can't even compare it to people who have actually done something: Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi may have formerly stood for democracy, something the western world is very supportive of, but she is silent on the fate of the Rohingya who are being persecuted and terrorised in her homeland because its not politically advantageous while Tawakkol Karman has stood up for rights of individuals in places where it has cost her, such as her stanc against the coup in Egypt.
Having said the above, there is a deficit: there are a lot of Muslims and the level of research and development is relatively very low compared to the western world. While this may be excusable for the poor and impoverished nations, there are also many states in the middleeast which are filthy rich and that they haven't achieved more is scandalous.