Tri­als and tribu­la­tions of bil­lion­aires

The Pak Banker - - OPINION - K Raveen­dran

AWARDS and con­tro­ver­sies are as in­sep­a­ra­ble as the two sides of a coin. It takes al­most a new the­ory of rel­a­tiv­ity to un­der­stand what tran­spires be­tween the con­cep­tu­al­i­sa­tion of an award and its con­fer­ment. Whether it is a sim­ple self-in­sti­tuted hon­our, of which there is great pro­lif­er­a­tion th­ese days, or one that is keenly awaited by the whole world, a num­ber of x-fac­tors are at work.

The un­canny con­tro­versy over the lat­est Forbes list of bil­lion­aires, which ranked Saudi in­vestor Prince Al Waleed Bin Talal way be­low what he con­sid­ers as his le­git­i­mate stand­ing, only high­lights how th­ese ex­tra­or­di­nary lists sat­isfy the ego of the world's bil­lion­aires. With the new tech­nol­ogy and busi­ness models act­ing as a great lev­eller, the tra­di­tional va­ri­ety of su­per­rich does not quite ap­prove of the idea of more and more com­mon­ers get­ting en­try and crowd­ing the elite club. This of­ten leads to un­set­tling of es­tab­lished po­si­tions on the list, which the bil­lion­aires get used to as their own by right.

Al Waleed has since an­nounced his part­ing of ways with Forbes and end­ing of all co­op­er­a­tion his King­dom Hold­ing had been ex­tend­ing to the rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the mag­a­zine, which typ­i­cally brings out how th­ese awards pro­cesses ac­tu­ally play out. Both sides have their own jus­ti­fi­ca­tions for their re­spec­tive po­si­tions, with Al Waleed in­sist­ing that some of his re­cent high pro­file in­vest­ments, which would have ranked him sev­eral points higher, were not taken into ac­count while Forbes main­tains that it has strictly fol­lowed stan­dard pro­ce­dures.

To put its records straight, Forbes has an­nounced it would con­tinue to count Al Waleed on its bil­lion­aires list as it de­scribes the ex­er­cise as an in­de­pen­dent ini­tia­tive, ir­re­spec­tive of whether the listed bil­lion­aires agree or dis­agree with the con­clu­sions. But it is com­mon knowl­edge that in most cases the fi­nal mem­bers of the list get there be­cause they de­sire to be there. The con­fer­ring of an award or ti­tle gen­er­ally in­volves many fac­tors, in­clud­ing power lob­by­ing, of­ten with the help of hired pro­fes­sional groups, 'co­op­er­a­tion', con­sul­ta­tions and at times neat 'buy­outs' as it hap­pens with many of the cor­po­rate bench­mark­ings. A num­ber of ex­tra­ne­ous con­sid­er­a­tions go into the fi­nal pick­ings.

Forbes has in­ci­den­tally thrown light on how some of the bil­lion­aires, in­clud­ing Al Waleed, have lob­bied with the judg­ing panel and helped in putting their re­spec­tive claims force­fully. For, a po­si­tion lower or up­per can mean a world of dif­fer­ence to in­flated egos.

Re­gion­ally, we have seen how banks and other com­pa­nies use th­ese ac­co­lades as a mar­ket­ing plank to push their brands and prod­ucts and gain an edge over com­peti­tors who didn't make it for ob­vi­ous rea­sons. So th­ese awards be­come very much a part of the mar­ket­ing strate­gies and carry sig­nif­i­cant re­turn on in­vest­ment (RoI) val­ues and there­fore the bargain for a higher rank be­comes per­fectly jus­ti­fi­able. It is very much the same story with government -spon­sored awards and ti­tles. The an­nual Padma se­ries of awards an­nounced ev­ery year by the In­dian government, rec­og­niz­ing valu­able ser­vice ren­dered by in­di­vid­u­als to art, lit­er­a­ture and the pro­mo­tion of In­dian val­ues and cul­ture, are mired in con­tro­versy as the nominations of­ten defy all logic and sense of pro­pri­ety. The bla­tantly cal­lous at­ti­tude of those who are in charge has seen per­sons al­ready dec­o­rated once be­ing nom­i­nated again for the same award, but to the be­wil­der­ment of the gen­eral pub­lic, such oc­cur­rences pro­duce lit­tle em­bar­rass­ment to the politi­cians or the bu­reau­crats.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Pakistan

© PressReader. All rights reserved.