Top 12 PR disasters of 2011, in India

The ISRO allocation scam in February, 2011

The year saw its first incident on the notorious scam list when a Comptroller Auditor General (CAG) report on the ISRO spectrum deal shook the nation and turned a few more heads towards the mismanagement of the government. The report unleashed one of the best kept secrets of the ISRO officials who attempted to allocate two customer-oriented satellites and sell off 70MHz of high value S-band to a private company for commercial tampering in an unbelievably low bid. A number of political and bureaucratic big-wigs were involved, putting yet another dent into ‘Government image’.

The Cricket World Cup’s shortage of tickets in March 2011

A disappointing image of police officials beating innocent cricket lovers, looking to buy tickets to one of the World Cup’s most high profile matches, enraged the nation. While the authorities attempted to save their collar by merely tagging the incidents as a product of mismanagement, no official actually stepped out of their way, to end the chaos. Despite colossal investments by the ICC, fans were still seen sitting dejected outside the stadium due to misallocation of tickets.

The CWG gaffe in April, 2011

The much awaited arrest of the former OC chairman, Suresh Kalmadi, took place for his alleged financial graft and large scale mismanagement during the biggest international sporting event that the country hosted. Intensifying the already dented image of India as a host-country to international biggies, the incident marked a turning point in the history of graft arrests in the world.

The anti-graft issue in April 2011

The anti-corruption movement stirred by Anna Hazare and his followers rocked the very mismanaged foundation of the UPA government, and saw many politicians run for cover in the wake of an uprising that rapidly spread over the entire subcontinent. The incompetent nature of the Lokpal Bill drafted by the government did not go down well with disgruntled protesters. The dubious intent and wavering approach adopted by the leaders in power led to their inability to cope with the mass unrest.

MV Suez saga in June 2011

Another key event to add to the chain of mis-communications, was the mis-initiative on the part of the government to negotiate the release of the Indian sailors that were taken hostage and their inability to protect them once they got free from the clutches of Somali pirates. India allowed for a full 24 hour window before rebuking Pakistani allegations of aggression by the INS Godavari. The silent stand taken by the government and ultimate failure of the navy to retract invited much criticism from the masses.

The Digvijay era of politics

Digvijay Singh was a favourite for many a journalist, to fill their pages with sensational salt and pepper, i.e news. Be it the eye-brow raising remarks towards opposition leaders, tagging a peaceful protesters like Anna as violent and linking his roots and those of Ramdev and Sri Sri Ravi Shankar to that of RSS or calling the most wanted terrorist as ‘Osamaji’; ‘Diggi Raja’ got it all wrong. With a recent statement on his reincarnation as the 8 millionth baby of the world, the minister has left behind some serious ‘not to use’ PR quotes for other politicians to observe in the future. 

The Noida Real Estate crisis in July 2011

The ban on land acquisition in greater Noida came out of the blue. for real estate agents and the industry as a whole. The issue was elevated as the farmers from Patwari and Dewala –nearby villages, toppled the courts’ decisions by demanding more opportunities to raise objections and demanding adequate compensation. The widespread disarray amongst the builders was evident as their mounting investments were at stake. The miscalculated verdict ultimately led to a loss of appetite for the real estate business and consequent loss of trust amongst buyers as a whole.

The Blackberry service outage in October 2011

The smartphone manufacturer suffered a huge setback due to failure to cope with their disruption in service for few days, in India and many countries across the globe. The messaging and browsing glitches experienced by its users were due to a core switch failure within the RIM structure No matter how hard the company tried to cover up their faulty services through a series of vague communications, their tarnished image could just not be brought back to its original shine.

Rahul Gandhi’s summersaults in October 2011

A brilliant example of blunder in the form of miscommunication was witnessed when the Congress Gen-Sec failed to turn up at the Anna Hazare village for his cordial meeting with the Sarpanch and was seen dancing at the wedding ceremony of the King of Bhutan, instead. The lack of communication however actually occurred on the part of the mediator MP, PT Thomas who supposedly fixed the appointment on Gen-Sec’s behalf and had to suffer the brunt of blame from both sides.

Metallica’s no-show in October 2011

Cancelling one of the greatest metal band concerts of all times – Metallica was all set to perform in the Capital for the first time, turned into an event of national shame for the country. A wave of disappointment swept across the city, angering not only local Delhi-ites but all those people who had come in from different corners of the country or for that matter, the globe. Be it technical glitches, overcapacity at the venue, dismal arrangement by the organisers, NOC issues or rowdy crowds, the event had all the ingredients to make it an issue of national embarrassment.

Telengana Issue November 2011

The government failed intermittently to cope up with the Telengana crisis, making hollow commitments to grant statehood, while the persistent procrastination on the part of the authorities attracted whole bunch of criticisms from the opposition. Despite the claims being made for final resolution of the issue by November this year, the pressure kept mounting on the centre with the resignations coming in from rivals, Telengana Rashtra Samithi and Telegu Desam Party. The bitterness over the issue still hangs in the air despite a number of sessions and meetings as people feel the issue won’t be resolved before 2013.

Paid fans welcome Tom Cruise in December 2011

Did anyone think India would get so insecure about hosting a movie celebrity that they would actually bequeath the mob to welcome an ‘international star who is constantly chased by the paparazzi in most parts the world’. According to reports, during the recent visit of the Hollywood actor to India to promote his upcoming flick Mission Impossible 4, professional extras were paid to cheer and get enthralled by the actors’ arrival. People were heard claiming that they were paid some close to Rs. 150-300 and offered a complementary buffet lunch, just to create the desired hype.

Written by Sana Baig for Image Management.


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