Monday, January 21, 2008

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at NDTV do -- was it right?

Unfortunately, we have to refer to NDTV once again. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was at the NDTV awards for 2007 ceremony. He won the award as the leader of the year 2007, and he gave away the award for the entertainer of the year 2007 to Tamil superhero Rajnikant. Perhaps there was nothing wrong in the prime minister being there, though it was the function of a snigle channel, and the channel was garnering advertisements for the programme.

NDTV is perfectly right in leveraging itself. But the question is whether the prime minister could have avoided being there. When Congress president Sonia Gandhi won the award two years ago, NDTV's Prannoy Roy went over to her place and handed it over. There was a sense of restraint. But when Mamnohan Singh got up and received the award, both Prannoy Roy and Barkha Dutt indulged in banter with him on the stage. It was literally buttonholing the prime minister of the country!

Perhaps times are changing, and politics is not very different from showbiz! But Manmohan Singh is not Tony Blair or Bill Clinton, the two leaders from the Swinging Sixties generation who did not mind playing in a band at a restaurant even while they were holding public office. But then the two went out of their way to do all the silly things because the two were quite silly. They belonged to a silly generation. But not Manmohan Singh. He could have avoided the public chat.

NDTV's awards system is a please all one. They realised that they could not ignore Shah Rukh Khan so they gave him the special award after giving the entertertainer award to Rajnikant. But it makes commercial sense to please all. So, they may be giving away more awards next year.

But these commercially motivated awards do not have much credibility. It is a scandal in this country where so many private organisaions give away away awards to eminent people, ad they are quie embarrassing as well because the people and organisations who give them lack intellectual stature. Giving awards is a way of networking. Of course, the Americans do this all the time. In such matters, it is better to avoid the American example!

When the Time magazine, to quote one decent example from the immature American scene, chooses its Man/Woman/Person of the Year, it maintains a respectable distance from that individual. Efforts should be made to appear that the awards is not a lobbying gesture!

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