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Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Inauguration of the Baby John Foundation

At 11 am yesterday, the Baby John Foundation officially came into being, and it awarded its first ever award for "probity in public life" to Shri. Somnath Chatterjee, the honorable, now "former" Speaker of the Lok Sabha. It was a small but gala affair that took place in the Kannakunnu Palace here in Trivandrum. The list of speakers included K. Sankaranarayanan, Governor of Nagaland, Oomen Chandy, Leader of the Opposition in Kerala, P. D. T. Achari, Lok Sabha Secretary-General, Babu Paul, President of the Baby John Foundation and a former IAS official if I'm not mistaken, Shibu Baby John, Ex-MLA, Leader of the RSP (Baby John), Vice President of the Baby John Foundation and Shri. Baby John's youngest son, Gandhimathi Balan, Secretary of the Baby John Foundation, businessman and former movie producer and Smt. Annamma, wife of Shri. Baby John, to name a few. This Foundation was set up to honor the contributions of Shri. Baby John to the politics of Kerala, and to the entire nation. Many of the speakers referred to Shri. Baby John as "Kerala Kissinger", to draw a direct copmarison to his ability to negotiate and deliver solutions during times of dire political crisis. All in all, I am glad I had the opportunity to attend this event and to be a part of something special. Oh, and let's not forget the opportunity to be able to see so many political stalwarts in person and to hear them speak.

In an unfortunate turn of events, made even more unfortunate by the story that had everyone riveted to their TV screens -- the Sri Lankan cricket team being attacked by terrorists in Lahore -- the inaugural ceremony of the Baby John Foundation went by unnoticed. Here's what the papers had to say about this event, particularly the second page of the New Indian Express.

There will be a couple of close-ups to follow, but as you can see, the towering, almost omniscient and penetrating gaze of Shri. Baby John, as his cut-out oversees proceedings on the stage below him, are unmistakeable. Even from this itty-bitty photograph. Here's a magnified version of this article.

I believe that Shri. Somnath Chatterjee used his award acceptance speech to further his own ideas about unity and the sheer lack of politics to serve the people, as has become the case in Indian politics. However, in the overall spirit of the occasion, these ideas were well received. Here's what the Hindu had to say about it.

I think the event went off well, and although there were points during which the largely Malayalam-speaking audience got restless with the English speeches, although all except Shri. Somnath Chatterjee was a Malayalam Speaker, people applauded at the right times without any cues and things went very well.

As a brief aside, allow me to make a connection with another item that I followed on the blog until last week. If you pay attention to the righthand-side of the first scanned image, there's a picture of some of the attendees, a couple of whom have been in the news for 'other' reasons. I will give you the close-up in just a minute, but The New Indian Express seems to have made it a point to identify the men in the picture as being linked with the "Fracas at Trivandrum Airport" case from last month. Check out the caption. Tsk tsk tsk...

Baby John's wife Annamma and Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee's wife Reen Shatterjee during the presentation of the Baby John Foundation Award. Businessman Raghu, alias Madathil Raghu, the prime accused in the attack on security officials at the Thiruvananthapuram Airport, and cine actor Baiju are also seen.

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