First a confession from CNN-IBN: “Based on an internationally acclaimed format by BBC held in 22 countries, the initiative is to select that one great Indian after Mahatma Gandhi who is the most influential, iconic & inspirational and has impacted your life”. So it’s not CNN-IBN’s idea but something the BBC had done many years ago to find the greatest Briton. So after sham awards like “Indian of the year” CNN-IBN has now come up with this new gimmick to pick the Greatest Indian since independence. After Mahatma Gandhi! More of all that later.
First, it’s not so long ago that CNN-IBN picked Mamata Banerjee as the ‘Indian of the year 2011’ and since that it has been downhill for them with her. From trashing MamataB at every possible opportunity to the infamous walk-out at a public interview with Sagarika Ghose nothing has gone right with them and the Bengal CM. And two years prior they picked Rahul Gandhi as ‘Indian of the year’ only to consistently lament they knew nothing about him. Such petty past times are fine with say Cosmopolitan or Filmfare or those page-3 type magazines. Why would a supposed national news channel indulge in such nonsense? Oh, the BBC did it so they should do it too. And as they say “BBC’s internationally acclaimed format..”. What they don’t mention is that the BBC is loathed as much in the UK as the MSM is in India.
And why leave Mahatma Gandhi out? What gives the channel the right to decide on behalf of people that he is above everyone else? There is no denying his great contribution to India’s freedom movement but typically the media continues to create a myth around the man as if he is beyond any evaluation by normal people. This is what politicians have done but not expected from news channels. Or are they scared that MKG might end up being voted 10th or 20th in the list and that may be a great embarrassment for them and others who put him on an extra-ordinarily high pedestal? In Italy the most prayed-to person in times of crises is not Jesus Christ, it’s St. Paul. Jesus Christ is sixth on the list of most prayed-to holy persons. (Watch the second video in this post). That’s not me saying it, that’s a Vatican priest confirming it. Does that make Jesus Christ any lesser revered or any lesser the Son-of-God as Christians believe? Why this strange obsession and madness to put MKG over every other person who has made sacrifices for our freedom? Are we to believe that we would have never achieved independence had it not been for MKG? That remains a serious topic for another discussion though.
What then is the motive behind such silly greatest lists? There’s no other motive than some fun and trivial, meaningless pursuits in times of economic strife. Entertainment at best! There is no denying the final list of 50 eligible Indians for the vote has the most extraordinary people this country has produced. Some have dramatically changed the course of events through their expertise and some have not. How in the world do you fairly compare a B.R.Ambedkar to M.S. Subbalakshmi? How do you fairly compare JRD Tata to Bismillah Khan? The list also contains 9 movie personalities and 6 sportsmen. Their contributions are immense but their impact is surely not the same. Of the current generation not many are likely to know MS Subbalakshmi’s work that well as they would A.R. Rahman’s. The British list was topped by Winston Churchill and at No.8 is John Lennon. Now, Churchill may have inspired a nation to victory in a war with his leadership but Lennon has the credit of changing the course of pop-music across the world forever. How would one make a comparison?
The BBC itself realised the folly of such rankings and later simply listed all the 100 Britons just alphabetically. All the 100 are special and there is no way there can be any fair comparison of their contribution and impact on Britain or on the world. While claiming to be inspired by the BBC format, CNN-IBN does not reveal the fact of BBC changing the rankings to merely listing the Greatest alphabetically. And what if B.R. Ambedkar ends up 50 th in the poll. Umm… that is sure to set off a juicy controversy, wouldn’t it? For that bunch of people who couldn’t tolerate a cartoon on Ambedkar, his ending up 50th in rankings would be absolute blasphemy. Well, that is exactly the motive and purpose of this farce. Stir up some unwanted debates and unwanted controversy. After all, nothing makes a media outlet grab TRP or circulation like a controversial episode. Not surprisingly, several people who appeared on the list of Greatest Britons also appeared on a parallel list of 100 Worst Britons. (Includes Margaret Thatcher, Tony Blair and the current Queen Elizabeth II) That’s the very silly nature of such a poll. Read the 100 Greatest Britons for the story.
Do you remember? When the Olympics allowed professionals into the games the Americans came up with the term ‘Dream Team’ for their Basketball players. All of them were big names. That’s not bad at all. One can always dream of a dream team in any sport. Football usually has the Peles and Maradonnas, Cricket has the Dons and Sachins. As against the greatest Indian it wouldn’t have been bad to have a dream star-cast in a movie with a great director or a dream concert with the greatest musicians. And yes, a dream Cabinet in a dream govt wouldn’t be bad either. So what would one of that look like? Let’s see…
Sardar Patel -Prime Minister, A.B. Vajpayee – External Affairs Minister, Indira Gandhi – Home Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru – I&B Minister, B.R. Ambedkar – Law Minister etc. and top it off with Mahatma Gandhi as the President. Go ahead, make your own dream team.
I’m not the gambling types but I can hazard a wild dream for CNN-IBN. Jawaharlal Nehru voted the Greatest Indian after Mahatma Gandhi. Then follow three rounds of debates that would include all the 28 member jury that CNN-IBN has conjured up, conducted, of course, by the stuttering Rajdeep Sardesai. Then a grand ceremony to award the Greatest Indian award… Oops, Nehru can’t be there, so Rahul Gandhi, the latest of the Nehru clan will receive the award on his behalf. Mission accomplished. Enjoy the Greatest Farce on TV!