Of all the crappy devices that Indian media managers have devised to beef up the bottomline, nothing beats the unquestionable racket called “awards”. (If you can forget even more foul-smelling effluent like “paid news”, that is.) Between newspapers, magazines and TV channels, not a single area of life in the glorious land has been left unrewarded in recent years; the ranking duly unaudited by one or the other dubious consulting firm.
As so often when supply exceeds demand, what began as an exercise to salute the unrecognised has degenerated into a farce-multiplier. One English newspaper is currently in the middle of awarding—wait for it—India’s best salons. And what begins as a torrent at the beginning of the year goes on all year, and sometimes (as with awards handed out by a news channel last month) it is difficult to make out if the awards are for last year, this year or the next one.
For many of the media vehicles, the awards are merely a sophisticated of sucking up to power—for a price. (And vice versa.) And for most media houses, the awards’ “events” are a key source of revenue, as other avenues start drying up. Either way, the awards list—usually based on an opinion poll of humongous sample size—is a pain in the posterior of news consumers, full of boringly predictable names and crashingly boring acceptance speeches googled the previous night.
(Aside from the obvious irony that crooks, killers, looters and other vermin are presented as angels.)
How refreshing, therefore, that India Today magazine should run a ranking of not the best of the land, but the worst. In its latest issue, the weekly has done a five-city opinion poll among 2,500 urban youth between 18 and 25 years of age, of India’s most hated public figures. And probably because the slap is fresh in their memory, Union agriculture minister Sharad Pawar is at the very top of the pile of India’s generation next.
The top-25 most hated figures are:
1. Sharad Pawar
2. Railway minister Dinesh Trivedi
3. Prime minister Manmohan Singh
4. Former future prime minister L.K. Advani
5. BJP president Nitin Gadkari
6. CPM general secretary Prakash Karat
7. DMK chief M. Karunanidhi
8. Tamil Nadu chief minister Jayalalitha
9. Finance minister P. Chidambaram
10. Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi
11. Congress president Sonia Gandhi
12. Petroleum minister Jaipal Reddy
13. RJD supremo Lalu Prasad Yadav
14. Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi
15. UP chief minister Mayawati
16. Former civil aviation minister Praful Patel
17. Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee
18. IT minister Kapil Sibal
19. Ex-Congress spokesman Jayanthi Natarajan
20. Congress spokesman Manish Tiwari
21. Congress spokesman Abhishek Manu Singhvi
22. Law minister Salman Khurshid
23. Finance minister Pranab Mukherjee
24. Urban development minister Kamal Nath
25. Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh
Of course, as with with all opinion polls, the India Today survey should carry the health warning: interesting, if true. Nevertheless, it is certainly interesting that the ten most hated list should contain only one communist, two Congressmen, three BJP men, and four from regional parties. Mayawati is below both Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi.
Clearly the worthies between No. 19 and 21, both numbers included, come in because of their TV performances.
The IT poll also has a metro-wise split. Apparently the five people most hated by Bangalore youth are, in order of appearance: Sharad Pawar, Dinesh Trivedi, L.K. Advani, Sonia Gandhi and Prakash Karat.
So, who’s your pet hate?