The 2009 Dubious Awards

Rupa Gulab

It is with a tinge of sadness that I bid farewell to 2009. It was one of the better years in my lifetime.

Watching the Congress sweep to victory with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh leading the party (I wouldn't be whooping with joy if a Narasimha Rao clone was misleading the party) in the general elections and the many assembly elections that followed, made me feel that Indian citizens, particularly in the rural areas, made a concerted attempt to rise above petty caste and religious considerations. We wanted stability. We also wanted to be able to afford to buy dal and rice, but sadly, that was not to be. I'm waiting with bated breath for Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee to grandly declare, "Let them have caviar." It should happen any moment now, trust me.
And now, here are the much-awaited annual awards.

Poster boy of the year: Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi.
The charming Mr Gandhi has featured in hundreds of high profile media year-end lists as the Indian of the year. This has made India's pretty young things very happy - the more photographs they see of this dimpled lad, the better. I'm just surprised that he hasn't been asked to walk the ramp yet for our numerous fashion weeks. Not even to revive khadi!

Budget catalogue model of the year: Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi.
A former poster boy of the saffron brigade, Narendra Modi continues to fancy himself big time. I almost had a heart attack when I saw photographs of him splashed in a leading national daily. There was Modi looking like a misfit in jeans, Modi looking more like a hastily put together scarecrow instead of an Armani model with a scarf casually draped around his neck, and Modi making a feeble attempt to look charming in ethnic evening wear. I know he's above the law, but can the fashion police arrest him at the very least?

Slowest person of the year - well, make that the last 17 years: Justice Liberhan.
What can I say? The joke flying around in kindergartens across the country these days is, "What moves slower than a turtle and never ever gets to any point?"

Invisible man of the year: CPI(M) general secretary, Prakash Karat.
Karat was so full of himself and all over the media before the general elections. He actually believed that he could spearhead a new coalition made up of a ragtag bunch of opportunists that would vanquish the UPA and take the nation to never-experienced-before glory. He was vanquished instead. We haven't heard much from or of him since. And, please note, no one is putting little ads in the papers with the message, "All is forgiven Karat, come back." 

Biggest loser of the year: Former wannabe prime minister LK Advani.
Legend has it that Advani wrung his hands and shed copious crocodile tears when the Babri Masjid was demolished by his own people. I'm willing to bet that he shed real tears, salty and blood-streaked, when he lost his last chance to become the prime minister of India. The salt in the wound moment came when he was arm-twisted into handing over his post of Leader of the Opposition to Sushma Swaraj. Who can forget that when Swaraj was Union health minister, she firmly said that AIDS could be prevented by abstention and not condoms? Oh, how the wannabe mighty are fallen!

Lunatic of the year: Captured terrorist Ajmal Kasab.
I've always maintained that fundamentalists (Hindus/Muslims/Christians alike) are lunatics, and Kasab has proved me right. Now that the 26/11 case is winding up, he says that it wasn't him murdering people at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, that was his twin! Are his handlers in touch with him again, or has he been watching way too many Bollywood flicks in jail? Both options can push crazy people to the brink.

New similes of the year: Inspired by former Jharkhand chief minister Madhu Koda.
Koda will go down in history not as an alleged swindler, but as an inspiring person who was solely responsible for giving the English language a rich Indian twist. The simile, 'As rich as Croesus' has been replaced with, 'As rich as Madhu Koda'.  'As black as coal' has been refreshed with 'As black as Madhu Koda'. The nation is indebted to him.

This story is from the print issue of Hardnews: JANUARY 2010