I was a bit taken aback by NDTV's decision to give a "lifetime achievement award" to L.K. Advani of the Bharatiya Janata Party. After all, Mr. Advani was widely acknowledged as being one of India's worst Home ministers when he held the job between 1998 and 2004. And he's no great shakes in his current avatar as Leader of the Opposition either. Which is why he did not win NDTV's 'politician of the year' award this time despite being a nominee.
I haven't seen NDTV's official citation (actually, I'm pretty sure he was given this award as a consolation prize to make sure he attended the awards ceremony) but the unseemliness of the whole thing got me thinking about what exactly are the lifetime achievements of Mr. Advani....
Here's a brief list of what he's presided over or singlehandedly achieved:
1. Demolition of Babri Masjid (contribution to conspiracy thereof) 1992
2. Hijacking of IC 814 and release of deadly terrorists like Masood Azhar, 1999
3. Massacre of Sikhs by terrorists at Chittisinghpora, 2000
4. Massacre of Kashmiri Pandits at Nadimarg, March 2003
5. First-ever terrorist attack on Amarnath yatris, 1999
6. Terrorist attack on Parliament, December 2001
7. Godhra and the Gujarat massacre of Muslims, 2002
8. Terrorist attack on Akshardham and Raghunath temples in 2002
9. Harassment of media from Tehelka to Iftikhar Gilani
10 Failure to take any decision on dozens of death row mercy petitions pending before him from 1998 to 2004 and now demanding the Congress government move swiftly on the mercy petition of Afzal.
This is a pretty impressive list and I've barely covered 11 years of the great man's life and achievements. Readers are invited to add more details.
On a separate note, I'm not sure newspapers and TV channels should be dishing out awards of this kind, especially to categories like politicians and businessmen -- people from whom a certain distance is necessary if one's coverage is to be truly objective. I urge everyone to read Monika Halan's recent note on why she resigned as editor of Outlook Money to understand how conflicts arise:
The OLM [Outlook Money] Awards are being used to fulfil the advertising goals of
the Group. In fact, we were all part of the meeting where we were told that the
award should have gone to LIC despite it not making the cut since it is a large
company with many readers as policyholders. In a subsequent mail from the
President, I was told that the concern is that LIC has withdrawn all ads to the
Outlook Group. I see it as a clear conflict of interest between ad and edit,
especially since edit has sincerely worked on the awards in an attempt to make
them the most unbiased awards in the country..."