Rhetoric sells - GulfToday

Rhetoric sells

Shaadaab S. Bakht

@ShaadaabSBakht

Shaadaab S. Bakht, who worked for famous Indian dailies The Telegraph, The Pioneer, The Sentinel and wrote political commentaries for Tehelka.com, is Gulf Today’s Executive Editor.

Shaadaab S. Bakht, who worked for famous Indian dailies The Telegraph, The Pioneer, The Sentinel and wrote political commentaries for Tehelka.com, is Gulf Today’s Executive Editor.

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Photo used for illustrative purpose.

Most politicians are like some beautiful women. The exterior does the trick. Qualities really don’t matter. Such politicians are free from the extraordinary burden of seeking education, free from worrying about truth, free from the responsibility of keeping promises, free from maintaining a daily routine and, of course, free from bothering about retirement.

For them truth is what they believe in and has several sides, promise is what favours them, daily routine is what suits them and retirement is when they want to.

I am almost certain that I am on the right track because I grew up among career politicians. I found them fascinating. I wanted to become one because I was convinced that it was the only career that gave more importance to words than action. If one could talk well everything else would follow.

Words neither satiate hunger nor quench thirst, but they work.

Permit me to discuss some cases.

A leading politician almost lost his post in India after he said people could eat bananas and apples if they couldn’t find rice in the market. He said this when his state was facing a severe shortage of rice. His asinine suggestion cost the state dearly after angry demonstrators set public buses and property on fire. This happened decades ago.

In contrast, the right choice of words by another politician around the same time had such an appeal that they went on to become a part of the native folklore. We are talking about British Prime Minister Winston Churchill. He famously told British lawmakers: “I have nothing to offer, but blood, toil, tears and sweat.”

A good deal of politics is all about converting a crisis into an advantage, which he did smartly with words. A suffering people found comfort in sheer rhetoric. Words neither satiate hunger nor quench thirst, but they work.

In pre-partition India, a poor leader won an election by delivering passionate speeches during the course of which he would break down, drawing the sympathy of the poor voters in villages.

He later admitted that was the only weapon he had against his rival, who was spending thousands of rupees by way of electioneering.

Again, the ability to talk paid off.

This discussion would remain incomplete without mentioning that days ago an Asian politician left a large number of people angry by recommending that they should drink less tea because its import was adding to the country’s financial burden. It is like saying eat less, a resident hit back.  

Therefore, we can safely conclude that in the exciting and free-flowing business of politics the rhetorician is king.


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