America has just emerged from a gruelling election, and once again, Barack Obama has come out on top. As Americans celebrated, Mitt Romney congratulated his rival, even as he spoke of having fought hard, and of working together with the president to take America ahead. When Obama appeared, the applause echoed around as people cheered for the man who was president again. Then the magic began, as Obama addressed his countrymen, in accents simple and moving, the beauty of his words competing with his sincerity. He spoke as if his speech could have no ending, about gratitude, progress and togetherness, every word clearly measured. His silver-tongued oratory left goose-bumps and teardrops in their wake.
We Indians watched in envy. Where were the master politicians back home? History had Gandhiji, Jawaharlal Nehru, Patel, Rajendra Prasad, Tilak and Gokhale. Nehru’s ‘Tryst with Destiny’ speech equalled all great speeches made before. His daughter, Indira, rose above the epithet of ‘goongi gudiya’ to turn effective leader.
Why is there this vacuum in politics today, a rarefied field where mediocrity is the catchword? Where being a parliamentarian is no honour, as khadi-clad politicians sit apart, and aim salvos at one another. The language used is crude, the noise levels deafening and rickety chairs unlikely missiles. The well of the house is not ‘well’ at all, as every dissenter rushes in where angels fear to tread, creating a ruckus paralleling Satan’s pandemonium. Most likely, Bigg Boss was inspired by someone who watched Lok Sabha TV, where every action, speech and behaviour in Parliament is unparliamentary.
Compare the discussions in Parliament with the discussions between Obama and Romney, where they debated issues, controversial or otherwise, with perfect decorum. They were dead serious, and their language acceptable. Even dirty linen was washed in public with dignity.
That is the word that shines through — dignity. Dignity is there in the clothes worn, in the words spoken and in how they carry themselves; dignity in the public eye and in the privacy of their chambers, and; dignity even when caught in a sting operation, as they resign from public gaze with the least fuss.
Unlike fossils here who get stuck in paternity suits well in their dotage, dodging the ‘issue’ till they get caught, or stick-in-the-mud leaders who stymie the government’s working, jailing so-called offenders for drawing cartoons.
President Obama can easily be termed Orator of the Millennium. He appreciated the dedication of Romney and his family, and vowed to work hand-in-hand with him. He openly lauded the First Lady Michelle, for having made him the man he was now. Have our politicians ever given credit to their wives for their own growth?
The eloquent words flowed, his spellbound followers applauded with their hearts in their eyes. When will a leader be able to sway our nation likewise? The time has come to telecast these speeches and discussions in our Parliament, at meetings where our leaders congregate, to prove that the word ‘dignity’ is synonymous with leadership. We might just stop cracking jokes about collective nouns and baboons, for instance!