HT Correspondent New Delhi, January 25, 2008
Anybody who can bring order to a mad city like Delhi deserves the highest award in the world. Delhiites are monumentally unruly on road, and famously callous with public property. They love to scribble graffiti on monuments, rip open bus seat covers, etch romantic messages (for God knows who) on trees and, worse, of it all, relieve themselves whenever it becomes unbearable.
Next time you ride the metro, look for all the familiar signs associated with Delhiites. You won’t find many. People are magically behaving themselves – it’s hard to believe but it’s true.
And making all this happen is, of course, the Metro chief E Sreedharan. And the best part is, he is known more for the other things that he has brought to the city – a good and efficient public transport. Sreedharan is changing Delhi, its geography and its attitude. He is the choice of voters and the jury of the Indian of Year award — instituted by CNN-IBN in partnership with the Hindustan Times – from the category of people in public service.
Former police officer Kiran Bedi, who has a long and eventful association with Delhi, says this for Sreedharan: “What he has done for his country and at his age (70 years) is remarkable. People think it’s time to retire and live in the past but he has given the metro concept to this country with commitment, integrity, vision and remarkable professionalism…”
The metro chief fought off competition for the slot from Bangalore surgeon Dr Sharan Patil, HIV campaigner Kousalya, Sushma Iyengar of the Kutch Nav Nirman Abhiyan, Patna teachers Abhay anand and Anand Kumar and Dr Oscar Rebello of the Goa Bachao Abhiyan.
Sreedharan now joins finance minister P Chidambaram, SBI chairman O P Bhatt, Chak de director Shimit Amin and scriptwriter Jaideep Sahni and chess champion Vishwanathan Anand as category winners in the fray for the Indian of the Year. These nominees have been elected/selected by votes sent through SMS or online and a jury comprising six eminent Indians – lawyer Soli Sorabjee (he is the chairman of the jury), HDFC chairman Deepak Parekh, actor Mohanlal Viswanathan Nair, Hindustan Times Media Limited vice-chairperson and editorial director Shobhana Bhartia, billiards champion Geet Sethi, Infosys co-chairman Nandan Nilekani and former police officer Kiran Bedi.
The Indian of the Year will be declared on January 29.