A great read – The rhetoric of change

This is one great article by Pritish Nandy, the rhetoric of change. He accurately summarizes the drama that we continue to witness between SRK and SS.

There are many Indias today, all of them struggling to be heard at the same time. Some argue. Others shout, scream, rant. Some play the game of power with astuteness and cunning. Others use faith, history, culture and tradition to stay bonded. Some mope and complain, see themselves as tragic victims of a brutal, oppressive regime that refuses to listen to the softer voices. In this mighty Babel, there are millions also who go about quietly and bravely, living out their desperate lives in the belief that things will get better one day. That is how this great nation lives out its destiny, day after amazing day.
Each of these many Indias seeks out its own rhetoric. The rest of us may argue over the merits and demerits of their politics, often not even fully comprehending why they do what they do or say what they say. That is why we see every ideological confrontation as a do or die battle, with no hostages taken. Last week we saw the Thackerays confront Shah Rukh Khan and Rahul Gandhi on two entirely separate ideological premises that somehow got all mixed up in the public eye. So much so that the Sena itself, for once, got so confused that they backed off and gave away the match point to their opponents. The winners were gracious in their victory and, for the time being, it looks as if Mumbai belongs not to its many claimants but to the larger vision of modern India emerging by popular consensus.

But what were the real issues? The SRK one was simple. Shah Rukh had lamented that the Pakistani cricketers were unfairly sidelined by the IPL. The media picked it up, made headlines out of it. Many of us had said the same thing on twitter and got away with it. He couldn’t. The knives were out before he could even explain himself. The real question dying to be asked was: If SRK was so concerned about the Pakistani cricketers, why didn’t he bid for them? Instead of asking the obvious, the Sena lost the plot and told SRK to stop pleading for the Pakistan players or go and live in Pakistan. It was political rhetoric, badly phrased. To mock SRK’s tears over Pakistani cricketers is one thing. To question his patriotism is another. The actual issue remains unaddressed: Should we continue sporting ties with Pakistan when shells are fired on our borders every day and 26/11 remains unpunished?

The Rahul Gandhi issue was more of the same. The real question is: Who does Mumbai belong to? There are two ways of looking at it and both are perfectly reasonable, valid, patriotic. You can say Mumbai belongs to those who have lived here for years, speak its language, respect its culture, and are committed to maintaining the continuity of its traditions and values. Perfect. No one questions that. No one questions the fact that Mumbai is slowly losing everything it once had because carpetbaggers and soldiers of fortune have taken over the city. But that’s not the same as saying only Marathi speaking people will be allowed to stay and work here. It’s not the same as saying let’s beat the North Indians and throw them out. Again, a perfectly good case wrecked by faulty political rhetoric. It’s no longer a battle for the preservation of Marathi culture and pride. The issue is now: Can Mumbai be out of bounds for others? Why Rahul? Anyone could have won this debate. It was a no-brainer.

That’s why the art of political articulation is so important. Every time an issue comes up for debate in the public domain, you must frame the questions right or run the risk of your rivals walking away with the public support that could have easily been yours. You can’t take on Sachin Tendulkar, Mukesh Ambani, Shah Rukh and Rahul Gandhi unless you have got your rhetoric right. Every ten years or so a new generation of Indians come up and question the premises earlier generations took for granted. Every few years a new road map for the future is drawn and the India we speak of takes on another shape, another imagery.

My father’s heroes were Gandhi, Subhash Bose, Rabindranath Tagore, Albert Schweitzer. I grew up admiring Che Guevara, reading Albert Camus and Pablo Neruda, being friends with Mother Teresa, Satyajit Ray and the Dalai Lama. My children have different role models. I may not agree with them but I respect their point of view. And that’s as it should be. Every generation must make its own choices. It must speak up for its own heroes, its values, its vision of the India it wants to live in. Our past can no longer shape or determine our future. The India my father fought so hard for may not be the India my son and daughters want to inherit. A nation evolves as it goes along. So does its political rhetoric.


11 Responses to “A great read – The rhetoric of change”

  1. Thank you for sharing this insightful article. Mr. Nandy has hit the nail on the head. The real issues always get sidelined.

  2. Have a nice time in Paris. With Valentines’s Day round the corner, love is bound to be in the air.

  3. Sharmila,

    Since this one is on rhetoric, I will comment in typical Sudhir’s rhetoric: 🙂

    Season’s greetings to the bears and bulls.

    Done deal.

    Make a volcano.

    This magma chills in 72.

    Spare the tephra. Don’t let the gas morph.

    It’s hot in the caldera. No plasma in pahoehoe.

    Synodic release.

    Impact basins a-twitter.

    The mirror just broke.

    Grass hoppers love caramel.

    Voluntary bankruptcy. Clean-up.

    Toxic panicles.

    Genesis 4:21, Jubal – father of harp and pipe.

    Krumping. Geo-centric stellar remnants.


    Season’s greetings to the bears and bulls.

    Cheers 🙂

    • One hell of a rhetoric Sudhir..if I could only understand it though sadly~!,,except MNIK

      • Oh Oh…

        Thats the difficulty with rhetoric especially when styled on an autistic character played by SRK in MNIK.

        Its not important.

        I was just mapping the marketing strategy of MNIK. One political outfit (Shiv Sena), two TV channels (NDTV & Zoom), several local newspapers and a devious mafia of spin doctors. All of them pulled off one of the smartest marketing campaigns for a movie.

        Considering that the Mumbai market is worth about Rs 25 Cr (~USD 5 million)in the first 72 hours of the release of the film, the entire exercise is worth it for the distributors and exhibitors.

        My rhetoric was only to show how it worked for MNIK.

        My personal opinion is, for some strange reason, the Khans (Saif, Salman, Amir and Shahrukh) along with Eros International are choosing themes based on the mindsets of terrorists. But I guess its okay if its sells.

        My equation on money and its worth are a bit rationalized.

        The value of my earning is inversely related to the number of people it benefits. The more people benefit from my earnings less is its value.

        On the other hand, the value of the work I deliver is directly related to the number of people who benefit. Meaning, more the people my work reaches, more its value.

        So, the value of my earning is inversely related to the value of my work. More the value of my work less is my earning…

        That’s one of the reasons I prefer to use secondary skills for earning my livelihood.

        Primary skills like Love, sharing, metaphysical views, philanthropy are reserved for private life – not for public consumption. I suppose all but celebrities are able to do this.

        (In the rhetoric above, Ptolemy was a researcher who imagined that the universe revolves around the earth! Reference to him was pointing to the twister created by the marketing spin that draws everything on its perimiter to the central theme of the subject – My Name is Khan!)


  4. Oops.

    Forgot the punch line…

    My Name is Khan.


  5. ‘Aall iz well’ is past. MNIK!

  6. Sudhir – I agree that the Khans have been under the terrorist garb for long. I also agree that this is one clever marketing ploy. In a way we have been continually held to ransom, our thoughts have been taken over by the real terrorists.

  7. Salman Shahid Alvi Says:

    Well,I dont think it was a marketing strategy disguised as a controversy.SRK himself has spoken of it in the interviews……And who is unaware of SN’s unjust policies and demands.We all know the extent of their corruptness………

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: