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IIFA: The award goes to mismanagement

India’s soft power was on display in Colombo this last weekend. And it wasn’t all pretty and mushy, reports Sutirtho Patranobis.

world Updated: Jun 09, 2010 00:58 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis
Sutirtho Patranobis
Hindustan Times

India’s soft power was on display in Colombo this last weekend. And it wasn’t all pretty and mushy.

The stardust of the International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) awards might be settling down but not before leaving behind an angry trail of questions here.

Sections of the government, the local media and opposition politicians are fuming over the expenditure incurred by Sri Lanka for the event — some 1 billion LKR — and the treatment some of them got in the hands of the Indian organisers.

An information department official scoffed at the mismanagement. Then I told him that it took me little more than eight hours to get the all-important event accreditation.

(I am a Colombo-based Indian reporter working for a fairly well known English newspaper.)

He was sympathetic.

So, I wasn’t too shocked when I heard local reporters fume about the treatment they got. Many said that they were treated like second-class citizens in their own country.

There were complaints about the Indian delegates at the IIFA global business forum.

Non among the locals could place the “leading investors’’ from India — mostly from Paharganj’s Chuna Mandi, Pitampura and Okhla industrial zone in New Delhi.

“We were expecting some known names who could have added credibility to the forum. Was this a junket for businessmen organised by your commerce chamber?’’, questioned a Lankan delegate.

I couldn’t answer that one but instead asked him what he felt about actor Dia Mirza’s speech at the forum.

He put down the phone.

Sanjay Dutt and Salman Khan evidently took the President’s son and new MP, Namal, in his early ‘20s, under their broad wings. Hope someone has told him about their checkered history.

The awards ceremony was packed with Indians. That was probably the reason why Shatrughan Sinha gave a 30-minute speech — in chaste Hindi. My personal gain from the event? I go to know, well roughly, how old Viveik Oberoi was after he said he came to Sri Lanka 14 years ago as a teenager.

But that aside, if this was India’s quality of soft power — minus Bachchan and Shah Rukh — it should stick to old school diplomacy.

First Published: Jun 09, 2010 00:56 IST