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An award to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday, Jan 14, made him as much a butt of jibes as of congratulatory messages he received from his juniors and faithful followers.

This was the “first ever”, and hence unheard of, Philip Kotler Presidential Award by the World Marketing Summit (WMS) India, whose event here in December was co-sponsored by a public sector company, GAIL India, and partnered, among others, by Baba Ramdev’s Patanjali group and Republic TV (co-owned by BJP MP Rajeev Chandrashekhar), pointed out a report by The Wire.

The WMS has previously only given awards to recognise achievements in advertising and marketing. The awards are named after a celebrated marketing and management guru, who is also the founder of the World Marketing Summit (WMS) Group.

There is no mention of the brand-new Kotler Presidential Award on the websites of either WMS18 – the Delhi ‘summit’ – or its parent body, the WMS Group, or anywhere else prior to Indian news articles published today, The Wire reported.

Moreover, the government’s press release makes no mention of jury members, nor the organisation behind the new award.

While the other five honours were bestowed by individual countries (Saudi Arabia, Palestine, South Korea and Afghanistan) and the UN, little information has been shared about the origin of the latest award, or the organisation presenting it.

As for the award to Modi, neither Philip Kotler or Professor Jagdish Seth, who presented the award to the PM at 7 Lok Kalyan Marg, have tweeted or shared information on their websites about participating in the jury, The Wire reported.

However, the certificate presented to Modi bears Kotler’s signature, presumably as part of the 2018 agreement to use his name for awards.

Dr Pramod Pathak, IIT (ISM) Dhanbad – named on the WMS website as a supervisor of the award committee – told The Wire he had nothing to do with the award for Modi, and added that Tauseef Zia Siddiqui was the point person for it.

He said the Kotler Marketing Excellence Awards are decided and presented by a separate process from the Kotler Presidential Award given to Modi.

The person he referred The Wire to, Siddiqui, is reportedly founder of Suslence Research International Institute Pvt Ltd, and described himself as a representative of Philip Kotler based in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.

Siddiqui was on the award committee for WMS18’s Marketing Excellence Awards, but declined to share any details about the judging process behind the Presidential Award bestowed on Modi. “It’s a very confidential award,” he told The Wire.

Senior BJP leaders and ministers, including Piyush Goyal and Smriti Irani, chief minister of Manipur N Biren Singh, and former chief ministers Raman Singh and Vasundhara Raje, rushed to congratulate PM Modi over social media for his achievement in winning the new award especially instituted this year.

Even the publicity wing of the government, the PIB, was brought into the social media campaign to drive home a point about Modi’s recognition abroad.

A tweet from twitter handle of Prime Minister’s Office, PMO India said: “PM @narendramodi received the first-ever Philip Kotler Presidential award. The Award focuses on the triple bottom-line of People, Profit and Planet. It will be offered annually to the leader of a Nation.”

In a series of tweets, Goyal listed out six “prestigious accolades” Modi has accumulated from the international community since becoming prime minister. He said: “The Philip Kotler Presidential Award adds to a long list of prestigious accolades received by PM @NarendraModi from the International community, reflecting the effectiveness of his style of governance and the far-reaching impact he has made throughout the globe”

Smriti Z Irani said: “Congratulations to PM @narendramodi ji for receiving first-ever Philip Kotler Presidential award. It is a matter of great pride for India that the award focusing on triple bottom-line of People, Profit & Planet is conferred to our PM for outstanding leadership & selfless service.”

Minister of state for information and broadcasting Rajyavardhan Rathore called it “a momentous achievement, and a proud day for all Indians.”

PIB India, under Rathore, tweeted: “PM @narendramodi receiving the first-ever Philip Kotler Presidential award in New Delhi today.  Details▶️ http://www.pib.nic.in/PressReleseDetail.aspx?PRID=1559823 …”

Its press release said:

First-ever Philip Kotler Presidential award presented to PM

The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi, today received the first-ever Philip Kotler Presidential award, at 7 Lok Kalyan Marg, in New Delhi.

The Award focuses on the triple bottom-line of People, Profit and Planet. It will be offered annually to the leader of a Nation.

The Award Citation says:

“Shri Narendra Modi is selected for his outstanding leadership for the nation. His selfless service towards India, combined with his tireless energy has resulted in extraordinary economic, social and technological advances in the country.”

The Citation adds: “Under his leadership, India is now identified as the Centre for Innovation and Value Added Manufacturing (Make in India), as well as a global hub for professional services such as Information Technology, Accounting and Finance.”

The Citation also mentions: “His visionary leadership has also resulted in the Digital Revolution (Digital India), including the Unique Identification Number, Aadhaar, for social benefits and financial inclusion. It is enabling entrepreneurship, ease of doing business, and creating a 21st century infrastructure for India.”

The Citation mentions initiatives such as Make in India, Startup India, Digital India, and Swachh Bharat, “which have positioned India as one of the most lucrative manufacturing and business destinations in the world.”

Prof. Philip Kotler is a world renowned Professor of Marketing at Northwestern University, Kellogg School of Management. Owing to his ill-health, he deputed Dr. Jagdish Sheth of EMORY University, Georgia, USA, to confer the award.

But if there were bouquets, there were brickbats galore, too.

Congress president Rahul Gandhi took a swipe at Modi, tweeting: “‏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 :)”

CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury said: “‏My personal congratulations to Narendra Modi for winning the world’s ‘first-ever’ ‘very confidential award’. No one else could have won this award.”

RJD leader and former deputy chief minister of Bihar, Tejashwi Yadav, tweeted, “Plenty of congratulations to our honourable Prime Minister for winning an unprecedented, unique and remarkable award.”

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