And the award goes to...Majeed Pista House, Hyderabad! While cheery hoteliers from Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Pondicherry look on, Hyderabad revels in the glory amid a few envious glances. After all, we are talking about the South India Hospitality Awards. It picks hoteliers who deliver the highest standards of service to customers in segments such as these: best mineral water, best mid-day meal, best haleem, best budget hotel or best tiffin centre. An “utter rush of exhilaration” is how attendees describe the awards, while an elated M.S. Nagaraju, the managing director of Epicurus, a luxury Hyderabad restaurant, calls it “sensitivity to hygienic food”.
Turn left, you have the Olive Crown Awards; turn right, and the Golden Petal Awards heave into view. Self-congratulatory India seems to be bursting at the seams with the growing pile of awards. Rajika Mittra, country head, Promax BDA and India Radio Forum, calls it the “apples and oranges syndrome”. “Earlier, there were only four-five premium awards, but now regular life is flooded with accolades in different genres.” If Hollywood has one Oscars, Bollywood has a dozen clones clogging entertainment channels. The Screen Awards, Zee Cine Awards, Stardust Awards, Filmfare Awards, Ujala Asianet Film Awards have handed over their statuettes. Coming up are iifa and Toifa. For every Emmy, there are scores of Indian TV awards.
The MO is simple: announce an award, get a handful of film folks and other celebrities to endorse it, fly them all to an exotic locale to give the awards away and, to top it all, get involved in some social cause. Ranadeep Basu, CEO, Dream Show Experience, feels creating an award property is good business if you can market it well. “It’s a great platform to showcase your brand.” Bestowing an honour is one thing, but does it help the awardee in the long run? Subho Ray, president, Internet and Mobile Association of India, says, “The endorsement of an idea is a key factor. It helps the awardee reach out to the jury if he needs support, which might even help him scale up.” You may call it bloated certitude, a glitzy brush with begowned stardom on a heavily decked-up, confetti-strewn podium, or an attempt to grab eyeballs. Whatever it may be, as a nation we don’t fall short of praises or prizes.
The phenomena of awards functions copying each other is nothing new (Red Carpet for the Everyman, Mar 11). When the Oscars began, they were meant as a self-congratulatory pat on the back of Hollywood. Once that unique brand was created, it set a marketing blitz template. Mussolini started the Venice Film Festival in emulation. In making a beeline for ‘awards excellence’ Manikchand gutkha and Rajnigandha are just playing out what happened in the West a long time ago. The culprit, if any, is not our terrible standards, but the forces of capitalism.
Thank you to all those who have taken the trouble to read the article and share their thoughts. Out of the arguments made here, there are two that perhaps need answering. So here they go.
1. The first part of the article compares outcomes (relative percentages of population of the religions concerned) irrespective of the process that led to those outcomes - whether immigration, relatively faster population growth or conversions. This was for two reasons. One, to put the figure of 2.3 per cent in "numerical perspective", as the article itself explained. The second reason was that outcomes are ultimately what the crux of debate is about. The rest of the article in any case dealt with process - or conversions in this case, from both a contemporary and historical perspective.
2. Some commenters have tried to cast doubts on the reliability of Census 2001. Those who do this should bear in mind that Census 2001 was conducted by a BJP government. Considering the extreme importance that BJP gives to this issue, it would be reasonable to expect that IF it had perceived a problem with the methodology that was distorting the numbers, it would have fixed it. As the article mentioned, BJP or BJP-supported governments have been in power for 10 of the last 40 years, or about a quarter of the time, and the only reasonable conclusion one can arrive at is that any misreporting of numbers, real or perceived, would be marginal and hence, not of importance.
To all other arguments made, my answer is the following: Please read the article again, with particular focus on the quotations of Vivekananda and Monier Williams, and the history of the missionary efforts in Bengal and their outcome.
Elementary, my dear Priyadarshini!
When Oscars were instituted, they too were done as a self-congratulatory pat on the back for Hollywood technicians. Then, when over time they also came to symbolise marketing and brand-name potential, they were primarily treated as such. By the time the idea reached our shores, it was the marketing potential which carried more traction. Unsurprisingly, every Manikchand guthka and Rajnigandha pan masala worth its spit have made a beeline to "award excellence". This has got nothing to do with 'Merkin superiority as your piece seems to hint at. Every good idea worth copying will be copied—that's the logic of the market! When the Venice Film Festival awards were instituted by Mussolini, they too were doen as a counter to the Academy Awards, or the Oscars.
So, if you have to critique Pan Parag and Royal Stag, might as well go the whole hog and criticise capitalism. And don't forget to criticise Ranbaxy and Cipla while at it.
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