Wednesday, October 17, 2007

An Award Function at IHC

16 October 2007‘

"Bored to Death" would be a mild phrase for today’s experience.

AC had invited me to a function at the Habitat Centre where he was receiving an award for International Business Excellence. The function was being organized by two agencies – International Study Circle (ISC) and Institute for Economic Studies (IES), and was to start at 11:00 AM. I had never heard of either organization.

At the venue I found AC and many people who walking about with colorful badges on their chests – the mark of the honored awardees. By 11:15 the hall had filled up but there was no trace of the dignitaries whose nameplates lined the dais. Time dragged on – we finished reading the newsletters supplied by SafeExpress, twiddled with stationery, took telephone calls and continued waiting. At 11:30, a garishly dressed fat woman trundled on-stage, complained about the mikes and asked the audience to have tea outside while the waiting continued. This was the MC – an apparition called Kavita Mukherjee who apparently was a Doordarshan newsreader. Not a great start at all.

A few minutes after 12:00 the missing dignitaries started appearing one by one. All the speakers without exception were retired bureaucrats and ministers. Dinosaurs from another era who rambled endlessly about pre-independence days, lathi charges by the Brits, flag-waving, linguistic traditions of India and other matters completely irrelevant to the topic of the seminar which was “Economic Development”.

Former Election Commissioner, GK Krishnamurthy smirked and snarled some stories about his glory days as a lawyer & bureaucrat; an old fogy (former cabinet minister, accomplished sycophant) went on and on in Bhojpuri about his conversations with the first president of India, Rajendra Prasad, and about his experiences in Mauritius. The only person who made a relatively short and sensible speech was the Governor of Orissa.

In the three hours of speeches, not one luminary informed the audience how and why the awardees were selected. The awardees too seemed surprised by this random honor and many had sent their relatives or employees to collect it. AC was grateful - “It is a great encouragement for people like me…to be brought alongside folks from India-Infoline and SafeExpress”.

It makes you wonder - Here i was, sitting in hall full of enterprising entrepreneurs who had struggled hard to create their businesses. These people were being given awards by people who had no idea of difficulties involved or any experience in this line. Who needed this function more?- ISC and IES or the awardees?

Anyway, different strokes for different folks. As for me, I am convinced that the organizers just wanted an audience to humor some ghastly speakers. Sadists!

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