An award for Mr Advani

BY The Hoot| IN Media Practice | 07/02/2009
Among those who were not amused at NDTV’s choice were the jury of its Indian of the Year awards. This was not an award that they had voted on.
THE HOOT’s take on NDTV’s Lifetime Achievement Award.

It can get a bit sticky when you get into this business of giving awards to politicians. NDTV¿s politician of the year award went to Shiela Dixit but the channel was stuck with the problem of having L K Advani as one of the nominees.  How do you embarrass a prime ministerial candidate from the Opposition by having him turn up for the ceremony and get nothing?


So it seems to have found a way out by giving the redoubtable rath yatra man a Lifetime Achievement Award  presented on the same evening as the Indian of the Year Awards. So there you had Laloo Yadav present and watching as the man whom he had arrested back in 1990 was feted for his political achievements.


Not surprisingly the choice has raised eyebrows. What exactly, some of us want to ask, have been Mr Advani¿s  contributions to Indian politics which deserve an award? Setting in motion the events that led to the destruction of the Babri Masjid?  And contributed  to a heightened  communalising of the Indian polity?


An award coming from a channel that helped to expose the 2002 pogrom in Gujarat which took place under the watch of a Bharatiya Janata Party government? The party Mr Advani is leading into the elections this year? A channel that  doubtless sees itself as a champion of secularism?


Among those who were not amused at NDTV¿s choice were some members of its jury of the Indian of the Year awards, which comprised  Fali Nariman, Shashi Tharoor, Anu Agha and William Dalrymple. This was not an award that they had voted on, but that was not made clear when all awards were given at the same function, and  two of the jury members wrote to Prannoy Roy to say as much. One of them said he would not want to be associated with any award which gave prizes to communal hatemongers.


Upon which Roy clarified that he had not meant to embarrass them, but that  it  has been the normal practice every year for NDTV to reserve the right for its editors to select and present one or more non-jury awards.  


Which still begs the question: why did its editors think Mr Advani deserved a lifetime achievement award this year?



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