Awards for sale: New glam sham for fame hungry

Award confirmation is done after the payment of Rs.6 to Rs.6.5 lakhs

Hyderabad: Do you wish to get an award at the hands of the Governor of Telangana? Would you not like to walk on the red carpet, and share the stage with other “prestigious awardees”, in a ceremony in which big celebrities will be present and receive an award alongside you?

Misusing names of such big personalities, the organisers of some shady unknown awards are baiting people, offering finally to sell the awards at a price.

This Deccan Chronicle reporter posed as an aspirant for one such award dubbed the Champions of Change (COC) awards. When he expressed his interest in getting the award, a member of the award committee called and gave him a detailed pitch.

The member offered confirmation of the award for a payment of about Rs 6 to 6.5 lakh, which would be made to look like a donation for a trust.

The awards are scheduled for Friday evening and will be presented by Chief Guest Governor Tamilisai Soundararajan. Other awardees this time include K. T. Rama Rao, G. Kishan Reddy, Allu Arjun, Saina Nehwal and other well-known personalities.

Ironically, on its website, the award claims to promote Gandhian values. The person whom this reporter spoke to identified himself as Arpit Gupta, senior manager, communications, Interactive Forum Indian Economy and Champions of Change award committee member.

He initially spoke about previous awardees, which he claimed includes several Chief Ministers and Cabinet ministers and Padma awardees like Mohammed Azharuddin and P.V. Sindhu. He read out a long list of other prominent names to whom Mr Gupta claimed they have given awards in the past. The Foundation is headed by a person named Nandan Jha.

“I was informed you can be one of the awardees, because you are a very highly well-known person in Telangana,” Gupta said.

When this reporter expressed an interest in getting the award, Gupta said, “For COC Telangana, we don’t have much time left. If you want the award, I can get you confirmation from our chairman and the jury as well. It is normally a very long procedure otherwise. At such a short notice, the best way to go about it is if you can join hands with our trust and donate money for some of our CSR projects, from either your company’s CSR budget or from anywhere. With the donation, we can get you confirmation of the award.”

Gupta said the ‘minimum criteria’ for the award was for this reporter to make a donation supporting about 50 to 60 students, which comes to Rs 6 lakh to 7.2 lakh. Gupta said one of the activities of the trust was providing tuition and academic support to students across India. The annual cost incurred for each student is 12,000, he said.

When the DC reporter agreed to make a ‘donation,’ Gupta told him to pay an advance of 25 per cent, (around Rs 1.5 lakh) of the total amount immediately, post which, a confirmation mail would be sent from the official COC award committee.

“By tomorrow, because we are very close to the award, if you get the rest 75 per cent done, you will immediately get a confirmation letter signed by our chairman, where it would be mentioned that the jury has selected you for the award,” Gupta further said.

The details of the account to which the payment was to be made were shared with this reporter. Post payment, a recommendation letter would be sent to the jury for the award by the chairman of the trust, in which it would be mentioned that the person concerned has donated to the trust, and hence the jury can go ahead and select the person for the award, Gupta said.

The annual awards are organised by Interactive Forum on Indian Economy (IFIE) which, according to the forum’s website, is a GoI recognised non-profitable company.

The website claims awardees are ‘selected by constitutional jury members headed by K. G. Balakrishnan, former Chief Justice of India and former Chairman, NHRC.’ The award winners are also assured of an article featuring them in a print magazine, named Power Corridors.

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