With the first swine flu death reported in my city of Pune, I thought I’d provide some Swine Flu related information specific to India.
Swine Flu India is the central website for all information and updates.
The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has an information page for Swine Flu.
This MS Word document supplied on the above page has contact information and details of the Control Rooms and Nodal Officers/Doctors for ALL states in India. Here is the information for Pune and Mumbai:
|Control Room||Nodal Officer|
Room No.137, First Floor,
Swasthaya Bhawan, Mumbai.
Office of the Joint Director (Health Services), Central Building , Pune
Dr. Suresh Bohatre
Please do your bit to spread information, not panic. Thanks!
While Barack Obama proclaims White House support to the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities to which India is a signatory, the Indian Supreme Court has delivered a landmark judgment in a unique case of young woman in India. My apologies, but the subject necessitates a lengthy post.
Born in 1991, this woman was abandoned by her family in ‘98, when she was just seven years old. After a few years with the Missionaries of Charity, she went to her new home: the state-run Nari Niketan in Chandigarh, India. Though she is 18 years old today, she is said to have the IQ equivalent of a 9 year old. In this state-run institution, she was repeatedly raped by the staff, four of whom have been arrested. All this came to light only when she was shifted from there to another state-run institution Ashreya. The latest unsubstantiated evidence casts further doubt on where exactly she was raped, and on the entire police investigation so far.
When medical investigation revealed that the woman was pregnant, the Chandigarh Administration decided that it was in her best interests to abort the pregnancy. The girl expressed an unambiguous and unequivocal desire to keep the child. Responding to the state’s petition, the state High Court ordered an immediate termination of pregnancy.
A Delhi based lawyer Suchita Srivastava challenged the order, filing a petition in the Supreme Court. After several days of intense debate in the media as well as the public, the Supreme Court refused to allow termination of pregnancy, and stayed the High Court order.
Advocate Tanu Bedi who had earlier assisted the High Court as amicus curiae, argued for the woman, against Administration counsel Anupam Gupta. The highlights of the debate in court as reported in the press offer the gist of the arguments and the court’s judgment.
- “Consent of the victim cannot be decisive. The so-called consent of the girl is no assent either in law or fact.”
- Reacting to the statement that mild mentally challenged people have the capability to take a decision for themselves, Gupta said: “This is a myth, which is completely belied by present scientific knowledge. It is a structural edifice of myth built on a foundation of highly wishful postulates of mental retardation. The argument is underlied by sincerity and overload of commitment, yet it is mere euphoria.”
- Dismissing the emphasis that the girl’s desire to give birth was ultimate, Gupta said: “If this expression of desire is taken as consent, it will be a complete travesty of consent in moral, philosophical and legal category. How can one question her regarding termination of pregnancy when she does not even understand what pregnancy is? She is blissfully oblivious of her pregnancy and unaware of the sexual act.”
- Reacting to the argument that children of mentally challenged rape victims can be taken care by institutes like Nari Niketan and Ashreya, Gupta said: “It’s easier said than done. We seem to be living in a realm of imagination. I am not trying to run down the argument by calling it a fantasy but such change, although welcome, is yet an illusion in our society.”
- Senior counsel Colin Gonsalves, appearing for a social worker in favor of abortion, cited medical reports and said the continuation of pregnancy could result in complications, considering the girl’s age, mental status, and previous surgery. He said she was not aware that there was a child inside her, and hence could not mother a child.
- “It would be a travesty of justice if a mother has to come to the highest court of the land to seek permission to give birth to her own child”.
- Consent of the victim matters most. “She is not mentally incompetent to give consent. Despite her communication problems, she has expressed her desire to give birth to the child. She has immense strength and resilience. We don’t even know our destiny, how can we script the future of someone else?” concluded Bedi.
- Ms. Bedi argued that doctors did not form the opinion that termination of pregnancy was in the best interests of the girl, and that the medical report suggested that she required support and supervision to help her raise the child.
- Counsel argued that termination of pregnancy against the mother’s wish was against the provisions of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971, and the Rights of the Disabled.
- If her mental age is a consideration for the judiciary to think that she cannot take care of her baby, why should poor women, who are found lacking in bringing up their children, be allowed to become mothers?
- Ms. Bedi said India was a party to international conventions that uphold and preserve the rights of the disabled, which had been given the go-by in the impugned order. “We have to respect the girl’s right to life”, she said.
- Ms. Bedi argued that the victim had a right to give birth to her child. She said the National Trust constituted under the National Trust for the Welfare of Persons with Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Mental Retardation and Multiple Disabilities Act, 1999, had agreed to provide her social and financial support and take care of the child after delivery. Counsel for the Trust said it was funding several institutions and would support the girl.
- Before the judgment: “What you say is right if she is not a mentally retarded person,” Chief Justice Balakrishnan told Ms. Bedi. “We are worried about her future also because she is an orphan. No NGO is going to look after her. It is a difficult decision for us.”
- “We are not in favor of termination of pregnancy. If there are no further complications to the woman in continuation of her pregnancy, then why abort a life?”
- “We are sure that somebody will be in a position to give protection to the child. Our anxiety is the fetus is already 19 weeks. The second medical opinion says her physical condition is good to bear the child. The child is not suffering from any deformity. Nature will give her biological protection. If somebody is ready to take care of the child, should we even then order medical termination of pregnancy? Nature will take care on its own.”
- Justice Sathasivam told Gupta: “Is it not possible for the Chandigarh administration to take care of the child? Is it not your responsibility to protect her?”
- “We know as a natural mother she will not be able to take care of the child. But if somebody is ready to look after the child, then there would not be any problem.”
- After being satisfied that several national-level NGOs had come forward to take responsibility of the child, the 3-member bench was reluctant to accept any other arguments supporting her abortion.
- Acknowledging that if a baby is aborted against her wishes, it would cause further trauma to the woman, the court ordered that the baby should be born with “mother under constant care and supervision”.
I have no way of assessing general public opinion, but in my experience, the opinion regarding the court’s judgment has been largely negative. See this blog post by Aditi Ray on Sulekha. Prerna’s post has a slew of comments criticizing the judgment.
The Bioethics Discussion Blog asks readers’ opinion regarding permanent sterilization of mentally disabled women, and asks if disability rights groups should ever sacrifice the disabled individual to the group’s agenda. I also found an interesting student paper at the University of Kentucky’s Dept. of Philosophy, Health Care Ethics on mentally retarded women and forced contraceptives. Finally, the UN’s Women with Disabilities page is a gateway to much more information and links.
A few days back, I was watching a children’s reality show on TV, Zee Saregamapa Little Champs. Young children sing and compete in this show, and there are two judges, one of whom is Ms. Alka Yagnik.
After one of the kids sung a song composed by Bappi Lahiri, Ms. Yagnik said she had brought a present from Mr. Lahiri for him. Can you imagine what it was?
It was a lemon and chillies bundle made of gold. She said it will help ward off evil spirits from the boy once she waves it around him. Another couple of minutes of air time was spent in close ups and a discussion of how it was 24-carat gold. Can you imagine my utter shock and disbelief? My instantaneous reaction was take it and SIUYA.
Millions of young impressionable minds all over India are passionately watching this reality show. The ratings of the participants matter personally to them. The judges are looked up at as role models who’ve made it big in the music industry. Is this what our role models are supposed to be teaching our children?
[For those not in the know, this is the most ubiquitous charm used in India to ward off the evil eye. See here for more information.]
TV shows like these are the rage on the Indian internet scene. There are countless sites with videos of episodes, innumerable forums where teenagers as well as adults are passionately discussing these shows and the progress of the contestants. If you think educated people with broadband connections who participate in such online activity would be immune to such superstitions, see this:
Of course, our politicians are not behind. This year, the national convention of the Congress in New Delhi sported this ‘good luck charm’. I thought I had seen it all, but then I saw this on a Send Gifts to India shopping site:
What is the harm in following silly old superstitions that harm nobody? Mr. Dabholkar, of the Maharashtra Andhashraddha Nirmoolan Samiti (ANS) says “The idea that there is no harm in following some superstition as long as it is not harmful is what is worrying", in this DNA article Dare to step on lime and green chillies?
The Maharashtra Eradication of Black Magic, Evil and Aghori Practices Bill is still languishing with no support group behind it. From political parties like BJP and Shiv Sena to each and every religious organization starting with the letter ‘H’ – there is vociferous opposition, blatant misinformation, and scare tactics used to sway gullible public opinion. The ANS activists are so frustrated that they are now writing letters to the ruling politicians in their own blood.
With the apathy of educated Indians towards such beliefs, and the mainstream culture embracing such superstitions, I think a lot more people will need to give their blood to this cause if it has any chance of success.
Many folks asked me for an update on Pune’s Blog Camp, after the previous photo-post. How was the experience? Was it worth it? Who was there?
Not being diplomatic, I can say that the experience was an interesting one for me, with positives and negatives. I had never been to any blog camp, bar camp, or Tweetup before, so I did not have any expectations, and that probably helped.
There was an interesting discussion going on even before the blog camp in the comments to Navin Kabra’s PuneTech Why You Should Attend Pune Blog Camp post. At the other end of the spectrum, post-event, the insights from the camp led to Dhananjay Nene’s Why I was disappointed with Pune Blog Camp 2.
Some others have shared their experiences too. Sandeep has a largely positive thank you note at his blog The Mousetrap. Anant has a detailed write up on his blog, Rahul has an update on the Devil’s Workshop, Aniket has shared his awesome feeling about the camp at Melody in Dissonance, while Deep Ganatra raises an important concern about unintentional session-hijacking. Almost all of them have written about the various sessions that took place, so I will not repeat them. Nor will I remember the names of all the presenters! So I will just share a few of my thoughts. You can also read Pune Mirror and TOI’s coverage.
A word of thanks to the organizers is a must. Tarun Chandel led the tone of the camp beautifully, making people get comfortable with his opening presentation and stepping in to facilitate whenever he could. I think the facilitation needed more support – it seemed he was the only one intent on facilitating.
Meeting In Person
There were a few specific people I wanted to meet and that was one of my motivations for going to the camp. There were a few surprises too. I knew about sites like Wogma and Track.in, and it was good to meet online entrepreneurs Meetu Kabra and Arun Prabhudesai in person. I met fellow Twitter contacts like Amit Paranjape, an entrepreneur who shares myriad interests like me, who was busy with his Smartphone throughout the camp as I’d expected! Dhananjay Nene, a software architect, was another Twitter contact and meeting him personally was a surprise as he wasn’t as old as he looked in his avatar!
Friends in need are friends on Friendfeed. I recognized Sandeep Gautam instantly, even if we had only recently started following each other on Friendfeed. Sandeep writes on psychology and neuroscience while being into software development and poetry, at The Mousetrap. Sneha Gore has done a survey-based research into motivations of young bloggers which I found interesting, and meeting Pune Mirror’s Vishal was also good.
- Despite what the self-analysis kit says, the camp was not centered around a theme or purpose. Blogging is a wide umbrella term for any camp to succeed without having a theme – SEO, journalism, the ubiquitous ‘musings’ – some theme is needed for greater audience-presenter harmony.
- Despite all the marketing-SEO focused presentations, the Golden Rule of SEO was not emphasized at all, or I missed it altogether. Content is king. Period.
- No talk of the future of blogging. Yongfook, author of the popular open-source self-hosted Lifestreaming application SweetCron has proclaimed The Blog is Dead. Wired magazine advised not to start a new blog, and to pull the plug if you already had one. ReadWriteWeb asked if the future of blogging is lifetreaming. I thought these topics will come up in a ‘blog camp’, but either they didn’t or I missed them.
- Sometimes, I felt disenchanted with the perspective of an SEO/Marketing oriented pro-blogger that looks at readers as pure numbers and statistics on a graph. Rather than a birds-eye view of traffic flowing on a freeway, I prefer seeking the company of people actually driving those cars – those who take the time to comment and share their ideas and opinions on my posts. But that’s just me.
- Despite the monetization related talks, there was no talk about writing. I take the blame for this. As a professional writer who is making money out of writing on a blog, and not looking at promotion, marketing, or SEO, I could have talked about how you can earn money as a blog writer without being keen on SEO.
- Meeting lots and lots of bloggers! And especially meeting the few I wrote about above.
- The passion and entrepreneurship of youth that I witnessed was inspiring. Young people in their 20s have .com domains and are discussing SEO. Wow. I actually felt out of place.
- Navin and Vishal’s presentation on what newspapers can learn from blogs and vice versa.
- Sandeep’s presentation on niche science blogging.
- Regional focus – Shantanu Oak talked about Devanagri spell-checking.
- Seeing lots and lots of newbie or wannabe bloggers.
- Bloggers should be on Twitter if they want to expand visibility of their blog.
- Some folks try to make money out of blogging. The clever folks make money from bloggers.
- The ‘blogger elite’ usually doesn’t comment on each other’s blogs. They use Twitter to keep in touch with each other.
- I personally feel there should be disclaimers within the presentations on monetization, when a lot of impressionable young people are in the audience. I could sense that many such people got the feeling that one can easily make money out of blogging, if one is geeky enough and knows a few ‘secrets’.
- In a blog camp, the law of two feet is very important. I did it successfully – rather than being felt obliged to listen to sessions that I was not interested in, I preferred spending one-to-one time with people, which is what worked best for me.
- If I go to a blog camp again, I will present. In retrospect, I could have shared:
- My experience with plagiarism
- The intense debates on this blog surrounding female foeticide, right to free speech, whether poverty is the root cause of terrorism, the legal implications of blogging, and paranormal phenomena. How these thoughtful discussions with readers have enriched me is very precious to me as a blogger.
- My experiences of blogging at Mutiny.in especially when defending the Indo-US Nuclear Deal. There are distinct differences between blogging on your personal blog and doing it on a high-visibility group blog.
- As mentioned earlier, writing to earn money, which I think is a dream quite a few people might have.
Thus, all in all, an interesting experience. Will I go to another camp? If it is not centered around a specific theme, definitely not. Else, depends on the theme!
Here are some photographs I managed to click at Blog Camp Pune 2 when I could disengage myself from the talks. Snaps are hosted on Flickr, please click to get higher resolutions. My thanks to all the ‘un’-organizers of the event for making this such a flawlessly smooth event!
How do religions treat women? How do emancipated women treat religion? A sequence of events recently has made my mind unquiet over this subject. Nita asked if Hinduism was coming of age, with people performing the sacred ‘thread ceremony’ on their daughters. The BJP found itself trapped in the maze of confusion surrounding Hindutva. And Sarkozy said that women wearing burqas were not welcome in France, as it was more a sign of women’s subservience rather than religion. The Rational Fool hailed Sarkozy’s statement, while I and Etlamatey pondered about individual women’s rights in the comments.
Like I always do, I responded to my unquiet mind by thinking, scouring the net, and thinking some more. Here is a sampling of what I found:
- An American convert to Islam urges Muslims to fight against brutality of woman to preserve Islam’s image in the eyes of others
- A Hindu woman converted to Islam says Islam is not oppressive, unlike Hinduism
- A Hindu perspective explains how Abortion is Bad Karma
- Genocide of Women in Hinduism by Sita Agarwal
- Did the burqa bring about the ghunghat or the other way around? Read this.
- Did women have ‘fewer’ rights than men or ‘different’ in the context of Hinduism’s history? A heated debate ensued after Hindus started a campaign to change the content of sixth-grade school history textbooks in California.
- A Globe and Mail opinion piece discusses the reduction in church attendance among Canadian women and whether oppression of women by religious institutions is the main cause, while Tina disagrees in her blog post.
- How does Canadian society achieve gender equality rights enshrined in their Charter, which also protects the right to freedom of religion? The Star looks at the conflict of interests.
- Muslim-dominated Indonesia is a religious country where atheism is banned by law. Alarmed at the extent of oppression of women in their country, a group of Islamic and Christian leaders have released new manuscripts in an effort to use religion to achieve gender equality.
- BBC had an open debate on air on whether religion is an obstacle to gender equality. The extensive comments represent myriad opinions and differing perspectives on this issue. One example of a response to this debate is by Sally, who says that faith is an integral part of her, and suggests women work within their faiths for change.
In the above list, I have not listed any pro-atheist source, and strived to include Hinduism related articles. Referencing articles on Hinduism and gender equality or feminism is difficult for three reasons. One, the global discussion has centered on Islam, and the English-speaking Internet population is largely Christian.
Two, Hinduism is unique in its flexible and diverse interpretations. While all religions are intentionally scripted so as to offer multiple contradictory interpretations, Hinduism wins this ambiguity race by claiming to be ‘all-inclusive’. Devout religious folks from other religions do argue (as seen in the above examples) that the oppression of women is a misinterpretation and misuse of their ‘true’ religion. But Hindus can’t be surpassed in this respect: not only are there multiple contradictory interpretations of Hinduism, even these contradictions can be claimed to be embraced by it. I think it would be a safe bet to say that for every principle supposedly propounded by Hinduism, a contradictory principle can be found within Hinduism. People would not call me a mathematician if I did not follow mathematics, but they will call me a Hindu even if I did not follow it.
Third, for a religion that has existed for centuries, and is said to be flexible and evolving, it is impossible to differentiate religious practices from social customs and traditions. Do Hindu women wear the mangalsutra or bangles because of religion or tradition? Widow burning or sati is widely described in the world as a Hindu practice, but naturally, there are arguments and differing opinions about it.
For atheists like me, the issue is very simple. Religion has been used as an instrument of gender inequality, specifically, in the oppression of women. Removing religion from the picture removes religious and theological justifications for patriarchy, as Austin argues. Sally says that in the absence of religion, men will find other ways to oppress women, hence religion as such is not an obstacle. Indeed, many factors contribute to gender inequality, one of them being economic prosperity, as this chart shows.
However, there still exists a strong correlation between the extent of ‘organic atheism’ (as opposed to ‘coerced atheism’ like in communist countries) in a country and its overall gender equation. Both the 2004 and 2006 rankings of the Gender Empowerment Measure, which is part of the the UNDP’s Human Development Report, show that the top ten nations with the highest gender equality are all strongly organic atheistic nations, while the bottom ten are all highly religious countries with insignificant number of atheists. But, as Phil Zuckerman points out in the The Cambridge Companion to Atheism, the causal relationship is in reverse: overall societal health causes widespread atheism, not the other way around.
It is impossible to argue against faith and belief, so I do not venture much into such debates. I prefer not challenging other people’s beliefs as long as they do not interfere with my life. What I find perplexing is how even emancipated women prefer to remain within their religious faiths and struggle against oppression, rather than choosing to discard religion? If faith and belief are important, and hence atheism and agnosticism are rejected, why are other forms of theism not popular?
In the end, I think I differ from Sarkozy: if women choose to be subservient, let them be. It is their right. Men should not trample over that right, though they can trample over such women, if they wish.
Update 30th June: A few significant articles I found since writing this post:
- Few public figures have taken this topic head on. Cherie Booth, wife of ex-PM Tony Blair, gave a speech almost two years ago: Religion no excuse for gender inequality. Like many other ‘feminists’ I mentioned, she however suggests using religion as a weapon in the fight for women’s rights.
- God is merciful, but only if you’re a man. An excellent piece in The Observer that asks the exact same questions I did, and offers the exact same answer Rational Fool did in the comments – Stockholm Syndrome.
- Wherever religion and its patriarchs rule, women’s lives are in danger, an Opinion piece.
- Why Women Need Freedom From Religion, from the Freedom From Religion Foundation.
(All cartoons are from www.atheistcartoons.com)
Or what newspapers and media will not tell you about the 2009 Indian Parliamentary Election.
Will the new government go in for reform?
- Absolutely! Though there may be a slight difference between what everyone understands by reform and what the government means by reform. From the government’s perspective reform means re-forming the government. The party in power has to make sure that at the end of its term, it is in a position to re-form the government.
Why did the Congress win a sweeping majority?
- Because none of the other parties did. Seriously. Theories and political pundits aside, no one really knows. Anyone who pretends to, is just making money out of pretending.
What does the Congress stand for?
- The Congress stands for secularism.
What is meant by secularism?
- Secularism means securing your political future among as many religions and castes as possible. In order to achieve this, you need to appear impartial, which you accomplish by not doing anything for anyone. It also means letting right wing zealots from different religions torture, rape, and blast each other and each other’s religious structures (mosques, churches, temples), while you remain impartial and do nothing.
Why did the BJP lose?
- Apparently, there were different reasons in different states. Since the BJP is as confused after the elections as it was before, there is no clear insight into why it lost. The only definitive, plausible reason is that the BJP is a confused party, and does not own any sizeable vote bank in the electorate.
What about the urban middle class that was said to be the strongest BJP supporter?
- The urban middle class is an insignificant, almost non-existent vote bank. Contrary to popular perception, the Congress’ vote share actually increases as you move from villages to towns to cities.
Really? How did the Congress win a majority of the urban vote share?
- Urban in the western context has an entirely different meaning than it does in India. In India, urban dwellings are slums. Majority of those who live in apartments and high-rises do not go out to vote in the scorching tropical heat. Almost all the urban votes in India are from slums, which are controlled by gangsters, who are cozy with the Congress.
What does the BJP stand for?
- The BJP is a right-wing political party that stands for Hindutva.
What is meant by Hindutva?
- Hindutva is a flexible concept that can mean different things depending on the time and place. For example, before elections, it meant women should not go to pubs. After elections, it means overall economic development.
What will the BJP do now?
- The BJP is like a horse with a blind left eye. When it reaches a dead-end like it did in this election, it can only seek further ways to go right. When it can no longer do so, it does a U-Turn, meaning it sits in the opposition and opposes everything the government does.
Why did the Left parties lose?
- The Left parties controlled every civil institution in their geographical stronghold, like schools, hospitals, police, etc. After over 30 years of being abused in every imaginable way by the Left parties, the people realized that the Left’s stronghold was a stranglehold.
What will the Left do now?
What conclusions will the Left reach after introspection?
- They will conclude that the Left parties were right, and the people of India made a grave mistake. The people of India were not able to fully understand the nationalist vision of truly independent India that the Left stands for.
Was there a youth wave in this election?
- Absolutely! There are millions of unemployed youths in India who have nothing better to do than attend political rallies and vote. The employed youth, who were an insignificant minority, were desperately busy working to avoid losing their jobs.
Any newbie TV News Producer who wants to compete with the top Indian news channels will be well advised to comply with the following guidelines:
- All news is BREAKING NEWS. This also means that if there is no news, BREAK all journalism rules to get BREAKING NEWS.
- TV news channels are in the business of TRPs, not news.
- It is imperative that Red should be the principal color of your visual style.
- Headlines should be in UPPERCASE (known in India as CAPITALS).
- There should be more animation on your screen than on an animation channel.
- Within each 30 minute segment, there should be at least one story on:
- Pakistan / Terrorism / Al Qaeda
- Indian Politics
- Obama / US – India relationship
- If you’re wondering why Bollywood is not part of the above list, you should realize that Bollywood should have its own 30 minute slot.
- Within each 30 minute segment, there should be at least one SMS Poll, inviting reader participation.
- There should be repeated ‘COMING UP’ teasers via anchors and headlines on the screen. It does not matter if the content referred to actually comes up or not.
- Each news story MUST be accompanied by a video. If no video is available, repeated zoom-in and zoom-out of static photographs is the last recourse.
- The date of the video does not matter; having an outdated video is better than no video at all. Forget industry best practices guidelines of showing actual date of videos. Whether the video refers to the actual event of the story does not matter as long as it is somehow related to the story.
- The protagonist of the story should be circled red in the video. It does not matter how obviously identifiable he is, or even if he is the only person in the video.
- If the video clip is short, loop it till you milk everything possible out of the story.
- Politicians, celebrities and sportspersons never argue, disagree, criticize or blame. They always BLAST, SLAM, or ATTACK.
- Even if a politician, celebrity, or sportsperson says something of the same sort that he has been saying for the last two decades, he REVEALS ALL, BARES ALL, or EXPOSES.
- All interviews to your channel are EXCLUSIVE, irrespective of how many other microphones are visible.
- There are no talk shows, there are only DEBATES. Each 24-hour schedule should have at least one or preferably two debates with guests. The decibel level of the debate, not the content, is directly proportional to the TRPs.
- For every story shameful to India, question and discuss with the guests, ‘Are we just going to forget this two weeks from now?’. Sound moralistic and ignore the piles and rooms of archives available with you.
- Expert opinion counts, but street opinion counts as well, or even better. If you can’t get expert opinion, interview people on the street. The background of the ‘common man’ does not matter, as he is supposed to be common.
- Synchronize your ad breaks as far as possible with other news channels, so that people don’t switch and stick to other channels during your ad breaks.
Readers may provide additional guidelines to you via comments below.
“Bachelors & Foreigners As Tenants Not Allowed”
I’m sick and tired of all the politician-bashing that bloggers seem addicted to these days. Why do we have to be so critical all the time? Why not see the glass half-full? Deciding to be an optimist, I present “Virtues of Politicians”:
Politicians have great oratory skills.
Enthralling thousands of people at rallies who stand listening in rain or scorching sunshine is not easy. Not even a fraction of that many people would be reading our blogs daily!
They are extremely responsive.
Within a few minutes of one political party releasing their election manifesto, the spokespersons of the other parties are available for their expert analysis and comments on all the TV news channels. Many bloggers, like me, take hours to respond to comments on their own blog!
Politicians take care to look good at all times.
Imagine attending conferences, debating, traveling, protesting, making speeches, distributing cash – all within one day – and making it all appear so effortless, and appearing presentable for all media appearances! A famous example is of the great minister who took care to change his clothes before visiting the site of a bomb blast.
They never forget and have a great memory.
Ask any politician about the mistakes committed by their opposition party politicians and events going back several decades are at the tip of their tongue.
They forgive and forget.
Come election time, and see this virtue in full bloom. They can quickly forgive and forget lapses in communication, behavior, promises, commitments, or whatever, on their own or others’ behalf.
Politicians handle insults with the utmost grace.
Whether it is TV reporters making snide remarks, journalists throwing shoes, or whatever, observe the graciousness with which they handle the situation.
Politicians insult with the utmost grace.
Even if they may be bitter foes in real life, they always refer to their enemies as ‘my good friend, ….’ on TV and elsewhere.
They are flexible.
Electoral alliances in coalition politics has made this a must-have virtue for politicians. No ideology, principle, value, or goal can be such that it cannot be compromised if doing so can gain voters, or better still, seats in Parliament.
Politicians are punctual.
“What!” you say? No kidding. One can frequently observe them just waiting in advance to speak in televised debates. The entire mass of politicians of one party from one state in India filed their nominations exactly at 12:39 pm, since that is the auspicious time when Ram killed Ravana. Doesn’t this prove punctuality beyond a doubt?
Politicians are culturally sensitive.
When in Rome, do as the Romans do. Depending on the religious, economic, educational, cultural, and caste background of their followers, they suitably adapt their costumes, gestures, greetings, salutations, etc.
They have an extremely good vocabulary.
Oratory skills on one side, it takes much more than that to succeed at debates or interviews. You must have observed the mastery with which they twist and tweak words and their meanings to convey exactly what they wish, irrespective of the question or argument.
Political leaders are loyal and stand by their team members at all times.
Observe their loyalty and steadfastness when they support the questionable and often disgraceful behavior of their colleagues.
So are you convinced? I’m sure I must have missed many other virtues, so do please add to the list in the comments!
Note: I have not provided links to actual events for each of the above, since different readers will find different events in their own country. I’m sure my intelligent readers will find suitable incidents that provide examples of each of the above. That’s another virtue – politicians have universal virtues!