Inside story of the 'Person of the Year'
By Rajpal Abeynayake
TIME magazine named US President George W. Bush 'Person of the year'. Editors have now let it out that his closest competitor was an earthquake. An earthquake? The earthquake registered six points on the Richter, and was responsible for some 600 human fatalities. George W. Bush was responsible for more. Bush had the advantage that he was not inanimate like an earthquake - - but that was never a problem really. In 1990 TIME magazine named a 'Machine of the year' instead of 'Person of the year': the computer.

So as far as George W. Bush and 'Person of the year' were concerned, an earthquake was good competition. Especially for George W. Bush. Yet in terms of acting very fast without thinking - - the US President beat the earthquake hollow.

But we have it that TIME also considered some other candidates this year. Some ran so close you could say they lost by a whisker. And you wouldn't guess how close some of these candidates were: Here then are some names that the news-magazine's venerable editors considered:

Velupillai Prabhakaran: Some TIME Editors argued that he should be given the award -- - simply for the fact that he didn't do anything at all this year.

In all other years, he made such a nuisance of himself, that when he doesn't, surely the world should recognise him for just that reason? They meant that there was solid rationale for making him Person of the Year. TIME magazine has criteria that is out of the ordinary. For instance they say the 'Person of the Year' is for the individual who influences global events most profoundly - - for good or for ill. This 'good or for ill' tag has been appended to 'Person of the Year' since TIME began. For instance, when they chose Ayatollah Khomeni many years back they said they chose him because he influenced events not necessarily for the good, but for 'ill''.

In a similar rationale, TIME was about to name Prabhakakran not for what he did but for what he did not do - - except that what he did not do became so significant in light of what he in fact did in previous years. He did not kill any world leaders this year for instance. He did not declare a messy war this year, and spoil the pickings of US and British expatriates living in Colombo. Of course some say that he bumped off some political opponents - - but only Sri Lankans know that, no? If the donor-nations didn't care about that - - TIME magazine Editors did not see absolutely any reason why they should...

Tyronne Fernando: He was almost to be picked for being the greatest Secretary General of the United Nations who was not to be. What a mean achievement, which rather speaks for itself?

The American soldier at Abu Ghareb: This particular species of American soldier was to be picked because last year TIME picked, guess who, "the American soldier'' as person of the Year. The Abu Ghareb American soldier was the refined form of the last year's American soldier - - the improvement. Not only was he able to fight -- he was also able to do all these other unmentionable things - - how cool?

Sonia Gandhi: When she refused to accept the Premiership, she was acclaimed as a modern day heroine. But TIME now discloses that this was not the real reason they thought of picking her as 'Person of the Year.' It was because she actually inspired a neighbouring country's President who has served for ten years, to think about retiring. Apparently after Sonia Gandhi did what she did, this neighbouring President thought of retiring --- for about ten minutes or so. Then she decided she wants to rule for another ten years.

Apparently she had said that only because she wants to disqualify Gandhi from being named 'Person of the Year'- - - because she told TIME Editors, ten days later than the deadline of course, that she too was interested in becoming TIME's Person of the Year....

Mel Gibson -- In terms of spilling blood without a blush, he almost beat the eventual winner -- George W. Bush. Well, almost.

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