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Saturday, July 4, 2015

Power Means Never Having to say you are Sorry







When  the  Ryan O'Neal, Ali MacGraw  starrer Love Story was released in the 1970’s it went on to gain  cult status, not only for the gorgeous O’Neal and leggy MacGraw  but also for its preppy dialogues. A dialogue which became an anthem for the flower children of that period was Love means never having to say you are sorry. So, it was used in all the tear jerker, angst driven moments of youth: while making up with the best friend or showing noble forgiveness to the ass hole dumping you.

Love Story and its dialogues may have become passé for a generation swooning over vampires and idolizing boy heroes vanquishing those who shall not be named but clearly not for our politicians. From Kashmir to Kanyakumari political families have bequeathed not only petis of hard cash to the next in line but also a paraphrased version of the iconic last liner. Obviously the grand dads and moms who had sneaked in a peek at the movie while studying at Yale (why Yale? couldn’t resist that one Ms Irani !) smelled a good thing and after themselves latching on to it like a limpet gave a clarion call to the sons, bahus and grand children about never letting go of it. They knew even back then, helped I am sure by prescient family purohits, that a time would come when media would cease to mean a few power loyal retainers but instead would resemble a pack of hungry hounds baying for the truth, led by an earnest bespectacled figure waving sheaves of white paper .

That the paraphrased line, power means never having to say you are sorry, has been the leitmotif of political life is amply visible to all. Mrs Indira Gandhi talked about everything under the sun, gave interviews by the dozen to Indian and foreign media but did she ever say sorry for the imposition of, and excesses during, emergency? Or for unleashing her younger son, Sanjay Gandhi, on the people and giving him a free hand to pursue projects close to his heart such as forcible sterilisation?  Did her elder son, after publicly humiliating a serving officer and forcing him to put in his papers, ever tender an equally public apology? Did Rahul Gandhi agree on hindsight that he should not have termed the ordinance, cleared by the Cabinet led by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, on convicted politicians as "nonsense" that "should be torn up and thrown away”?


It would be wrong to single out the members of the dynasty alone. Manmohan Singh has remained ever and anon mum on the coal block allocation; Shiela Dixit on CWG; Mamata Banerjee on her infamous remark on a sensitive issue such as rape- she said rape is on the rise because men and  women interact with each other more freely. Gulam Nabi Azad as health minister called homosexuality a disease; an optimistic Sushil Shinde as home minister said,’ The public forgot Bofors, soon they will forget this(Coal Scandal) as well’ and Mulayam Singh Yadav ,excusing rape, said ‘boys will be boys’.
 

What is surprising is that the Bhartiya Janta Party has, in a marked departure from bhartiya values, also cottoned on to the fact that it is manlier to strut a 56” chest than to show contrition. In 2013 Narendra Modi tendered an apology for the Gujarat riots of 1969 and 1985 which took place under Congress governments but not for the riots of 2002. The BJP’s sadhvis and other sorority have spent much of 2014 and 2015 mouthing utterly startling statements. Sushma Swaraj and Vasundhara Raje have till date not admitted to any impropriety; Smriti Irani has not apologized for submitting an affidavit with a ‘typo’ error; Pankaja Munde is clear that she did no wrong; Shivraj Singh Chouhan is insouciantly going about his daily chores in a state where corpses are tumbling out almost daily …..

Even more surprising is the fact that the Aam Aadmi Party has also joined the power play party. Surprising because Arvind Kejriwal should know the power of saying sorry since it was his repentance and remorse that got him a clear mandate in the 2015 Delhi assembly elections. Post the results, an obviously quick learner; Arvind kept shielding his law minister, Tomar, till the absolute last moment of truth. Even after that what emerged was not an apology but the shifting of blame to Tomar who ‘kept him in the dark’. It is early days but the AAP shows tremendous promise for following the script.


In Love Story Ryan O'Neal’s father is the villain of the piece in the moistened eyes of the viewer for much of the movie. He redeems himself   in the climatic scene by saying ‘sorry’. The son hugs him and says,’ Love means….’.
Will our politicians ever realize that a lot will be forgiven if we get to hear that one word?

14 comments:

  1. I couldn't agree more with you. A very convenient interpretation of power.

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  2. This needs to go to Kejriwal!! Amazing thoughts

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    1. Thanks:)

      Agree about the Kejriwal bit!

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  3. I was attracted to your post because of the headline. Amazingly it applies not only to political life but to all power equations, even those between individuals. Somehow, sincerity, being genuine and really wanting to mend fences are secondary to 'being right'. Very sad.

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    1. Kalpanaa, you are absolutely right. The piece is about people in politics but yes, cutting across all spectrums and stratas the 'powerful' are arrogant and shy of saying sorry for any wrong.

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  4. True, genuine sorry can do miracles. At the same time look at Hema Malini saying sorry from hospital, after her speeding car killed a kid. She instead of helping the victims left the spot. Does this kind of sadness and apology mean anything?

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    1. True, Abhijit- a sorry that has been issued after media and public attention certainly loses its meaning but is still better than saying nothing at all.

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  5. You have rounded it up nicely Anju.It is a very strange situation because saying sorry would have only added to their stature.But they can never admit they did wrong.

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    1. Thanks, Indu. Very well put - about 'them' not realising that an apology will only add to their stature.
      :)

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  6. अंजू जी, बिलकुल सही कहा है आपने! बड़े लोग गलती करने पर भी अपनी गलती जल्दी से मानते नहीं है और सॉरी शब्द तो जैसे उनके शब्दकोष में रहता ही नहीं है .

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  7. Great post. Sad, isn't it? They not only don't feel sorry, but aren't even ready to mouth the word. Sorry is a difficult word to pronounce with ego held high.

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    1. Thank you, Kiran. You are totally right about the ego bit:)

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