CNN-IBN Indian of the year…….

The votes are in and the results are awaited in a couple of days for what is one of the most unique award shows. Recognizing Indians from various fields and bringing together big names on the same platform. Ladeej and Juntalmen it’s time for the CNN-IBN Indian of the year 2007. Below are the nominees and my picks!

Politician of the year:

  • Prakash Karat: For being India’s most powerful politician of the year and ensuring the UPA coalition and his Left allies, literally danced to his tune.
  • Kumari Mayawati: For becoming the tallest Dalit leader after Ambedkar and conquering UP by forging a unique upper caste-lower caste combine.
  • Narendra Modi: For securing the most audacious political victory of the year, defeating not just rivals and rebels but also anti-incumbency.
  • B. C. Khanduri: For being one of India’s most unsung performing politicians and the real force behind the highway construction project and change in Uttarakhand.
  • P. Chidambaram: For engineering a spectacular growth rate and being an astute economic manager despite coalition pressures.
  • Pranab Mukherjee: For being the real behind-the-scenes crisis manager and political negotiator in a squabbling UPA alliance.

It would have to be a Toss between our finance minister and the new face of the BJP. At one end is a man who has been responsible for some spectacular economic growth, and at the other end is a man who has sent shivers down the spine of every politician with his charisma. My choice is the man who despite having to bow to the pressures of a coalition has brought some very good reforms, P.Chidambaram.. I wonder how they even nominated Prakash Karat and Pranab Mukherjee, one held the govt to ransom and the other was distributing portfolios like a christmas party!

Businessman of the year:

  • Mukesh D. Ambani: For revolutionizing retail, taking petroleum and other businesses to dizzying heights and in the process becoming one of the richest men in the world.
  • Anil D. Ambani: For piloting an affordable info-com revolution and managing unprecedented financial muscle by heavy investments in infrastructure, power and capital.
  • Sunil Bharti Mittal: For building Airtel into India’s largest mobile service operator and then successfully cornering a chunk of the fixed line telephony business as well.
  • Vijay Mallya: For acquiring liquor conglomerates to airlines to even a Formula 1 team and proving the King of Good Times was truly an audacious dealmaker.
  • O. P. Bhatt: For showing how a public sector behemoth could flex enough muscle in the ferociously competitive banking sector.
  • Kumar Mangalam Birla: For making the Aditya Birla Group into a world player and successfully ensuring that Idea emerges as a major player in the cellular telephony market.

Reliance being sponsors, both the Ambanis are out of contention I guess. My choices were between O.P.Bhatt for bringing SBI to be as competitive as its counterparts in the private sector, and Vijay Mallya for taking the airline industry by storm. But the F1 deal just tipped the scales and with hopes of attending the F1 Delhi GP next year, I vote for Vijay Mallya…

Entertainer of the year:

  • Shah Rukh Khan: For delivering Chak De and Om Shanti Om, two of the biggest hits of the year, and ensuring he remains the undisputed King Khan.
  • Rajnikanth: For reviving Rajini-mania with the release of Sivaji amidst unprecedented hype, one of his biggest worldwide successes ever.
  • Shimit Amin and Jaideep Sahni: For delivering the year’s Best Idea film, Chak De India, and demonstrating how a simple idea can be made a runaway commercial success.
  • Prashant Tamang and Amit Paul: For helping northeast integrate and establish itself firmly on the national entertainment map by their exploits in Indian Idol.
  • Akshay Kumar: For being the most reliable and bankable Bollywood star of the year by delivering a string of successful films.
  • Shilpa Shetty: For winning UK’s most watched reality show Big Brother and becoming India’s most famous anti-racism ambassador.

This was pretty easy as barring SRK, Akshay Kumar and Rajni, the rest didn’t even deserve to be named in the same breath. But then the superstar takes it all with the biggest release of the year! SRK had to sell himself to every news channel and TV show to promote OSO, Sivaji on the other hand ran without any interviews or promotion. Steering clear of all releases and making it to the charts in international markets buoyed by the aura of one man, the superstar Rajnikanth!

Sports person of the year:

  • Yuvaraj Singh: For simply being the most outstanding Indian cricketer of the year, be it one-dayers, the T20 or even Test matches and ensuring 2007 was his best year ever.
  • M.S. Dhoni: For displaying rare guts, courage and freshness in leading his team so admirably and making India the T20 World Cup champions, much against expectations.
  • Vishwanathan Anand: For being one of the rare Indians to become the undisputed world champion in a sport and making chess a popular sport in India.
  • Sania Mirza: For achieving a record high ranking in world tennis and becoming one of the most feared players on the circuit.
  • Jyoti Randhawa: For becoming only the second man in the world to win the Indian open thrice and being the most consistent Indian golf player of 2007.
  • Saurav Ganguly: For scripting the ultimate comeback tale in Indian cricket and silencing every single critic he had post his ouster from the Indian team

Cricket has again eclipsed other sports with three nominations but I would prefer to look at our unsung heroes. For being the face of chess in India for years and finally getting his due by becoming the world champion my vote without an iota of doubt goes to Vishwanathan Anand.

Public service person of the year:

  • Dr Sharan Patil: For giving India it’s most inspiring medical achievement of the year, with the successful surgery of the eight-limbed two-year-old Lakshmi from Bangalore.
  • Anand Kumar and Abhayanand: For providing free coaching, boarding and lodging to 30 poor students for the IIT JEE Exams every year. For achieving successful scores for 28 out of the 30 students this year.
  • Sushma Iyengar, Kutch Nav Nirman Abhiyan: For single-handedly reconstructing the earthquake ravaged Kutch region of Gujarat and setting new trends in disaster management and rehabilitation of natural disaster victims.
  • E Sreedharan, Chairman DMRC: For setting a rare work ethic and transforming the face of transportation by effective time-bound execution of the Metro Rail project.
  • Kousalya, Network of Positive Women: For being the first HIV positive truck driver’s wife who set up a successful NGO that helps women learn how to fight the virus.
  • Dr Oscar Rebello, Goa Bachao Abhiyan: For leading the relentless fight to save the natural habitat of India’s most idyllic state, Goa.

This was a toughie with almost everybody having done some spectacular work. But when it comes to public service then its a three way tie between Sushma Iyengar, Kousalya, and Dr.Oscar Rebello. But for being a victim herself and taking the initiative to fight rather being depressed, my vote goes to Kousalya!

NRI of the year:

  • Vikram Pandit: For being yet another Indian to head one of the world’s biggest corporate groups, tasked with getting Citigroup out of an unprecedented crisis.
  • Kiran Desai: For becoming one of the most influential Indian writers, who has earned rare respect in the western literary circuit.
  • Sunita Williams: For breaking the record for longest single spaceflight by a woman, and in the process inspiring thousands of Indian children to dream of being an astronaut.
  • Indra Nooyi: For securing the ultimate position of chairperson and CEO in PepsiCo, a feat achieved in the world’s most hard nosed corporate environment.
  • Arun Sarin: For piloting more than 11 Billion U.S dollars foreign direct investment in India, one of the largest ever.
  • Fareed Zakaria: For his outstanding achievement in the world of international journalism and being known as one of the most respected columnists, commentators and authors.

This was probably the easiest choice to make. With all the others only having personal achievements, Arun Sarin’s achievements benefit the country as a whole and not just bringing fame. The FDIs will go a long way and bring cash and employment to many. My vote for Arun Sarin!

There you have my picks and we shall know the winners on the 21st as they are declared. Meanwhile, I would love to know what you feel and who your choices would be.