If it is not all right in the eyes of The Hoot for NDTV to select the BJP’s prime minister-in-waiting L.K. Advani for a “Lifetime Achievement Award” in 2009, was it OK for Business Standard—in which Hoot editor Sevanti Ninan has a stake—to invite the leader of the opposition to hand the Business Standard Awards in 2008?
The “Indian of the Year” shows of the various television channels, that has comfortably stretched into the first month of the new year, has largely been a case of much of the same. So similar were the “brand” objectives; the award categories; the selection methodology; the “beautiful people”; and the target audiences that had the shows mistakenly appeared on a rival station, nobody would have noticed. Not that anybody would have cared.
Except for a flash of inspiration that struck the head honchos of CNN-IBN.
At a time when the political class was falling over each other putting in applications for the Bharat Ratna, the channel conferred a “Lifetime Achievement Award” on a real jewel: Rasipuram Krishnaswamy Laxman, the Mysore-born cartoonist whose common man has held a mirror to the birth, rise and growth of a nation on the front page of The Times of India for well over 50 years now through “You Said It“.
The adjectives flowed freely, and for once unquestionably justly, as Laxman, now bound to a wheelchair after a paralytic stroke three years ago, was ushered in on stage.”For a lifetime of contributions to society, for a lifetime of achievements,” said anchors Vidya Shankar Aiyar and Suhasini Haider. “For having done the nation proud, for having been a part of our lives,” said Rajdeep Sardesai.
But when the citation was read, the 84-year-old Laxman bawled like a baby as former president A.P.J. Abdul Kalam and vice-president Hamid Ansari joined the audience in standing and saluting a common man who has become uncommon in modern India:
“For being one of the most incisive observers of post-independence India; for making millions of Indians smile every single morning for over 60 years; and for giving the common man of this country, a face, a voice, an identity and a consistent presence and importance in every aspect of our lives.”