January 2010 has ended very well. For starters, the great Indian advertising industry has been full of action – the Unilever media pitch result is not announced yet, likewise for General Motors media pitch and Bharti Airtel media pitch has already joined in… One is almost wondering who is next.
Add to that the controversy that erupted in the creative circle when ‘Phir Mile Sur’ that was released on January 26, 2010 left many disappointed because due credits to Suresh Mullick, the creator of the original track ‘Mile Sur’, was not given in the remake. But the national level hullabaloo was over the Padma Awards 2010.
The Awards may not have worried any in the advertising industry, since one seldom sees advertising industry professionals making it to the list – a through and through industry person such as me, would not think this to be as fair and normal as some of our industry leaders say it is, but such are advertising professionals.
The media industry, on the other hand, was hopeful – after all, only last year the awardees included The Indian Express’ Shekhar Gupta (Padma Bhushan), NaiDunia Indore’s Abhay Chhajlani, NaiDunia Delhi Editor Alok Mehta, and veteran radio personality Ameen Sayani (all Padma Shri), and the year before that, there was Rajdeep Sardesai, Vinod Dua and Barkha Dutt, all of whom were awarded the Padma Shri.
And there are those who turn around and question why was the media industry hopeful – who from the industry made it to the 2007 awards? But wasn’t 2009 one of the strongest years of Indian media industry? The aftermath of 26/11, the general elections coverage, the story of a recovering economy – media had its hands full. Yes, the year also saw media bashing – whether it was a scene in ‘Paa’ or a real life scenario where Rahul Gandhi accused the media of irresponsibility and exaggeration in news, but Indian media “grew up” significantly in the year.
Perhaps another drawback of the situation is that there is little clarity on what or who decides the Padma Awards. Media observers have been angry with some awarded this year – the award given to Sant Chatwal has spurred a raging controversy, where a Livemint columnist (Priya Ramani) even cited that high-profiled media professionals were contemplating filing a Right to Information (RTI). But it is another discussion altogether if more would be seen or heard on this.
But given the television age that one is living in, it is difficult to not wonder what it would be like to have a reality show on the lines of ‘Kaun Banega Padma Shri’. The possibilities are several – the government can keep the public informed in a stage-wise manner on who and why the President of India would award the Padma Award on Republic Day; if there was a shortlist and why someone on the list got eliminated – how the winners for Padma Vibhushan, Padma Bhushan and Padma Shri Awrads were decided...
Or one could go the other way and people could send in their entries of who should be a Padma Award winner and why – the kind of work that they have done. True, these are the awards to be chosen, and then given, by the Government of India, but it is a democracy after all – let the public decide.