'Confidential' Kotler prize is most famous

Rahul Gandhi congratulates PM Modi for award "so famous it has no jury"

By Pheroze L. Vincent in New Delhi
  • Published 16.01.19, 3:50 AM
  • Updated 16.01.19, 3:56 PM
  • 2 mins read
  •  
Narendra Modi receives the Philip Kotler Presidential award in New Delhi on Monday, January 14, 2019. PTI

A tweeter asked Union minister Smriti Irani: “Madam... I am confused which is more authentic — your Yale degree or this Kotler Award?”

You know the answer when Rahul Gandhi, Sitaram Yechury and Omar Abdullah vie with one another to congratulate the recipient of the “first-ever Philip Kotler Presidential Award”.

The certificate, held by the smiling recipient, reads: “Honourable Prime Minister of India Shri Narendra Damodardas Modi.”

Prime Minister Modi has been roasted on social media after the PMO’s Twitter handle posted on Monday three pictures of him posing with the award, and a host of ministers sang hosannas.

“It is an acknowledgement of his selfless service & outstanding contribution…. This is a momentous achievement, and a proud day for all Indians!” tweeted junior minister Rajyavardhan Rathore.

But one factor stood out like a sore thumb: no one had any idea what the “first-ever Philip Kotler Presidential Award” was all about. A person associated with the organisers described it as “a very confidential award”.

More important, many wondered whether the Prime Minister of a country should be taking pride in such awards.

The award is instituted by the World Marketing Summit (WMS) India in the name of Philip Kotler, a marketing guru whose website describes him as the “Father of Modern Marketing”. The World Marketing Summit, which aims to engage global leaders and entrepreneurs to create a poverty-free world, was founded by Kotler.

The award was conferred by Jagdish Sheth who holds the Charles H. Kellstadt Chair in marketing in Emory University, Georgia, in the absence of Kotler.

The explosion of joy was killed when The Wire, the news portal, tried to trace the roots of the award and quoted the owner of an Aligarh-based research firm hired by WMS India as saying: “It’s a very confidential award.”

The Congress president was among the early birds to pour acid. “I want to congratulate our PM on winning the world famous ‘Kotler Presidential Award’! In fact, it’s so famous it has no jury, has never been given out before & is backed by an unheard of Aligarh company. Event Partners: Patanjali & Republic TV :),” Rahul tweeted.

CPM general secretary Yechury rubbed it in: “My personal congratulations to Narendra Modi for winning the world’s ‘first-ever’ ‘very confidential award’. No one else could have won this award.”

Minister Irani, who congratulated the Prime Minister and described the award as “a matter of great pride for India”, took up cudgels on behalf of Modi and responded to Rahul. Irani tweeted: “Rich !!! Coming from a person whose illustrious family decided to confer the ‘Bharat Ratna’ on themselves.”

Twitter handle @sidmtweets, who describes himself as a Delhi High Court lawyer, asked Irani about the Yale degree and the Kotler Award?” In 2014, Irani had claimed she had a degree from Yale, and it turned out that she had a certificate for a six-week leadership course from there."

Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah, too, did not spare Modi. “The Philip Kotler with the Alfred Noble (sic) of the future. What an honour!”

Late at night, government sources circulated among journalists WhatsApp screenshots of “Philip Kotler’s tweets” confirming the award.

Kotler was quoted as saying in two tweets: “I congratulate PM @narendramodi for being conferred the first ever Philip Kotler Presidential Award. He has been selected for his outstanding leadership & selfless service towards India, combined with his tireless energy. Prime Minister Modi’s efforts in India have resulted in extraordinary economic, social and technological advances in India. His winning the first Philip Kotler Presidential award raises the bar for future recipients.”

Some Twitter users cast doubts on the authenticity of the handle from which the tweets attributed to Kotler originated.

But the point is not whether Kotler approved it or not.

Social activist Swami Agnivesh hit the nail on the head when he posted on Facebook: “Waah Modi ji, waah! You are not just a beloved leader of the Sangh and the BJP, but also the PM of India. Before doing all this, please care for the dignity of the position.”