| Amartya Sen
Mumbai, May 22: Amartya Sen has come a long way. As further proof of his poster boy status, he is in the running for the MTV Youth Icon this year.
The economist who has worked on hunger, famine, poverty and distribution of wealth is up against tough contenders though, from walks of life very different from his. While he has been selected in the science, technology and academics category, other nominees include composer A.R. Rahman for music, actor Amitabh Bachchan for films, cricketer Rahul Dravid for sports, Ratan Tata for business, designer Ritu Beri for fashion and actor-cum-anchor Shekhar Suman for television.
If the Nobel laureate wins the contest, he will be replacing Anil Ambani of the Reliance empire — the MTV Youth Icon from last year.
Sen was nominated after research agency IMRB conducted a survey on 800 youth across 10 cities. The survey was carried out in the age group of 15-24 from Sec A and B households with cable and satellite connection.
MTV doesn’t think it is surprising that Sen is a potential MTV youth icon, for he may be surprised to know this, but he shares a lot in common with the other nominees.
“The survey reveals that there are certain factors the youth of this country look for in role models,” says Vikram Raizada, vice-president, marketing, MTV Networks. “They like a rags-to-riches story, or people who make it on their own,” he says. “They also like people who are perceived to have extended national pride and taken Indian achievement overseas.”
Raizada adds a third factor: honesty and right values. “The survey reveals that success is key factor for today’s youth. Unlike a few years ago, it is all right to be successful in money terms. But it is not all right to adopt crooked means,” he says.
“There was an overwhelming negative response to the question that asked whether it was ok to adopt unfair means. There was an overwhelming yes to a question that asked whether people who adopted unfair means or broke the law of the land should be punished strongly.”
Sen fulfilled these expectations and more, because the other names nominated in the science and technology category were .R. Narayana Murthy of Infosys, astrophysicist Jayant Narlikar, space scientist K. Kasturirangan, the late astronaut Kalpana Chawla and cosmonaut Rakesh Sharma.
If Sen is rubbing shoulders with the country’s most glamorous, science and technology has also achieved a new star status, the survey reveals.
Music, sports and movies were the categories that evoked the greatest interest. But science and technology was in the fourth place, ahead of television, business and fashion.
“Fashion evoked the least interest,” said Raizada.