‘Inspirational quality’ is key differentiator in CNN IBN awards: Sardesai

: CNN IBN editor in chief Rajdeep Sardesai today said that to establish higher credibility the channel, which is going to hold its Indian of the year felicitations on January 29, will look at redefining the “Politics” category, in the wake of various criticism in the media of another channel which held it own similar programme recently.There have been some critical comments in newspaper columns in the Capital, Sardesai sought to state that for his channel the sole criteria behind the men chosen is achievement not celebrity status, though he refrained from commenting on any rival channel’s awards.

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“For the Indian of the year for CNN IBN the process is far more important than the finale, which is the conclusion of the process, and we have kept the entire process transparent,” he told the media persons.

It is in this context that he said that the criterion for choosing the Politician of the Year needs serious rethinking, as till date most such awards have been looking at impact, whereas it could be a better idea to have ‘inspirational leadership” as the correct criterion.

“This is what we have learnt and we are in serious discussion on this,” Sardesai said, adding that otherwise the whole thing becomes populist.

But what is the need for an award anyway and how is CNN IBN going to prove it is different?

Sardesai opined that being a news channel they owe it to their viewers to show them the best of the year, and said that the transparency level they have kept far surpasses anything else, with SMSes, Vote by 150 Eminent Indians and finally the vote by the jury member.

Asked how CNN IBN would say its SMS is not rigged, Sardesai said that over-voting cannot be discounted, but the SMSes would carry only 30 per cent marks, with the Eminent Indians accounting for another 30 per cent marks for each nominee. The rest 40 per cent would come from the jurors.

“Besides, SMS points have also been rejected by the Jury as some senior politician was ahead in the SMS polls, but the jurors felt that someone else was more inspirational, hence it has been given to him.

“The real achievers are in the public service category, where we have gone for true achievers who are not even known, and this is the test of our pudding, when we say it is about achievements and not celebrity.

None of the seven nominees in the public service category are celebrities, none of them are on Page 3, but they are doing amazing things quietly,” Sardesai emphasised, adding that the stress was on credibility, and not symbolism.

Likewise, in the entertainment category, though the SMS polls showed one superstar way ahead, finally the award went to two people who were the brains behind the concept of one of last year’s blockbusters.

“Yes, there will be questions, for example why is it that we have chosen P Chidambaram as Best Politician over Modi or Mayawati, who were ahead of him in the SMS polls, and we have explained this to the people when they asked, and that is what I call true transparency,” Sardesai said.

Sardesai said that their criterion has been all Indians who have done truly inspirational work, not how often they have come into news, which he says is their greatest differentiator.

He disclosed that this year there will be a Life Time Achievement Award, which has gone to a person who cuts across all ideological frontiers, though he did not disclose the name.

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