Not many are going to question it. She carries her bleeding heart on her sleeve and makes sure the cameras are around to capture the moment.
I will pose the query nevertheless: Why has Shabana Azmi been conferred the International Gandhi Peace Prize? That she is the first Indian to be so rewarded is all the more surprising. One report gushed, “Shabana Azmi makes every Indian stand six inches taller as she becomes the first Indian to receive the prestigious International Gandhi Peace Prize for her contribution in social work.”
I am no admirer of Gandhi, but if an award has been instituted in his name, there has got to be some modicum of allegiance to his projected values. Is Ms. Azmi the best representative of those values, of peace? Aren’t there other ‘social workers’? What about Baba Amte, Swami Agnivesh, Anna Hazare, Medha Patkar, Ela Bhatt? Please check out their credentials. They have not only had hands-on experience, but also changed the mindsets of large sections of society.
Shabana Azmi has been involved with some slum organisation, and she uses her fame occasionally to get the issue some extra media coverage. And if, as one report said, she has worked for women’s upliftment, I would really like to know where and in what field/endeavour.
On being informed about the award, the lady responded with, “In today's strife-ridden world, Gandhian values of non-violence as a means of conflict resolution have gained great significance. Nowadays, people talk about Gandhigiri, thanks to Lage Raho Munnabhai.”
Is this a socially-committed activist or is she doing a plug job for a film? Chances are her own discovery of Gandhi was through the film, because one has never heard her speak about all the things she is saying now.
The unfortunate thing about awards is that the more visible you are the more likely you are to be recognised.
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There is a controversy going on about how reality shows are being rigged/influenced by the participants to garner more votes for themselves. They are buying SIM cards in bulk, distributing T-shirts, going from place to place canvassing for support.
There are the dance shows Jhalak Dikhla Ja and Nach Baliye, music contests like Sa Re Ga Ma Pa and Indian idol and many other smaller ones.
The manner in which the votes can be rigged is clear and no sensible person thinks of the winner as being the best or most talented. This is in-your-face popularity seeking.
Can there not be more subtle canvassing going on for the more prestigious and respectable awards? Are we not aware that political considerations often swing the deal, and deals they are? Isn’t it true that the Miss Universe and Miss World contests that suddenly found a spurt of Indian ‘beauties’ were marketing ploys by western cosmetic agencies to tap and trap the huge middle-class market?
I am afraid but Shabana Azmi being honoured along with Mother Teresa in France, Shabana Azmi getting the Martin Luther King Award by the state of Michigan, Shabana Azmi winning an award at the World Economic Forum in Davos earlier this year fall in the same category.
The London weather is good right now. One hopes that she and her husband will once again get to enjoy the hospitality of and be feted by Lakshmi Mittal, the steel baron and an important mover and shaker in Britain. After all, Javed saab did write the script for Mittal’s daughter’s wedding.
There is the scent of victory and bracing winter in the atmosphere. I suppose this is what Ms. Azmi meant when she said about Gandhi, “his fragrance seems to be in the air till now”.