J.Jayalalitha, Jairam Ramesh, Mamata Banerjee, Salman Khurshid, Arun Jaitley/Sushma Swaraj and Tarun Gogoi. What do these names have in common? Easy – they are all politicians. Some of them are chief ministers of some states. And they are all going to be part of a most shameful act in a democracy – sham awards titled “Indian of the year” by a news channel. Of course, this is not the first time that CNN-IBN is handing out these awards and also not the only channel. Their mirror channel NDTV was the one to start this shameful practice some years ago. A few weeks back NDTV hurriedly gave out these awards in October, although they excluded politicians this year.
One must recall the Indian of the year awards handed out to Sonia Gandhi, Manmohan Singh, Rahul Gandhi, Nitish Kumar and other politicians by these news channels. Can’t say there’s a connection but under the Congress govt. at the centre people like Barkha Dutt and Rajdeep Sardesai have received the Padma awards. That’s like politicians and news media scratching each other’s backs. Ironically, the new tagline for CNN-IBN is “the most awarded channel”. (They seem to have dropped the previous “whatever it takes” line.)
Last year I wrote the post “CNN-IBN– Indian Of The Year–The Sham Awards” on the same topic. It is one thing for a news channel to hand out awards to sportsmen, businessmen and others but altogether a different thing to hand out awards to the very people they are supposed to keep a watch on and report. Jairam Ramesh is on the list of CNN-IBN for the second years running. Arun Jaitley & Sushma Swaraj are clubbed together as one entity. The reasons are not important. The Radiagate incident has exposed the nexus between media and politicians and these sham awards are a furtherance of the continuing nonsense by CNN-IBN.
Since giving the ‘Indian of the year’ award to Rahul Gandhi for 2009, CNN-IBN has subsequently questioned whether he has a vision for India. The channel is on record stating they have no idea of his views on various national issues. None of this occurred to them before bestowing a silly award on him. What is equally shameful is the manner in which media celebs like Barkha and Rajdeep address various politicians. Barkha addresses CM Nitish Kumar as ‘Nitish’ like he were an old classmate of hers. The news media is yet to evolve a protocol on how to address public servants and politicians. Rarely do you hear them addressing senior public servants as sir, mr or madam. That is the kind of superior and powerful position they have accorded to themselves. A previous article by regular blogger V. Gopalakrishnan on the topic, “Media awards to public servants – a crying shame” is also worth reading.
What the politicians, who equally, shamefully accept such sham awards from the news media, miss is an important aspect of who funds these awards and shows. These are ‘sponsored’ honours which no politician or public servant should ever accept. The list is long: SRM University (a university?), Hindustan Times, ONGC, Mint, Hindustan, Swarovski, Ford, Parker, Sensodyne, Chivas (liquor brand), GE and some more. In short, it’s just another money-making business for the channel which public servants should be avoiding.
The practice of news media handing out awards to public servants and politicians while they are still active is one of the most unethical practices of the Indian media. You may not find this in most mature democracies. TIME magazine does have a ‘Person of the year’ lead story but that is only to acknowledge the impact of an individual on the world during the year. It does not involve handing out some award or some ceremony. I can’t also understand the title of ‘Indian of the year’! What the hell is that? Fair to have a sportsperson of the year or businessman of the year from India but that certainly doesn’t make the person Indian of the year. This is clearly an insult to all other Indians, many of whom do make extra-ordinary contribution to society. Which is enough reason for me to call these the ‘Dirty Awards’.
Most of all, in the politician category, I can even predict the winner. Well, it’s a simple toss-up between Mamata Banerjee and J. Jayalalitha. Why? Because they have swept the state elections this year. And all possibilities are it will be Mamata Banerjee for her accomplishment of ending the three-decade old CPM rule in Bengal. If you know any of these politicians or can communicate with them do make sure to advise them not to accept these awards. These dirty awards are merely another form of media corruption.