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Gautam Mukundan
Wednesday, January 22, 2014 at 18 : 20

Not 'My way or the highway', let's all board a common freeway


In the world there is no clear black or white. Humans too exist in this gray zone. In fact research shows that even our belief that sexes are distinct has been shown to be untrue at some levels, male and female have some characteristics of each other (anima-animis).

It is in this spirit that AAP supporters are sticking by their party despite endless controversies. The AAP is no reincarnation of Jesus but they are not Satan either. The supporters wish to see the good amidst the bad. Support is not fanatical and the indefensible cannot be defended. Support however is broad based -in the gray-you like something, you dislike something and the net arithmetic works.

Sadly while the supporters want to see the white in this black, the AAP party itself is talking in absolutes. All are bad; the entire police force is corrupt and so on. This language is highly regrettable.

The episode of Somnath Bharti is a perfect example of their "All or None thinking". Maybe the Delhi Police was wrong, maybe there was a racket the police ignored, but did their confrontation lead to anything useful?

A popular TV series 'Ji Mantriji'(immortalized by the great Farooq Sheikh) captured the power of words and the skill of the bureaucracy. With just two words "Ji Mantriji" the bureaucrat would smile, cajole and nearly always get his way, at times even when the minister might disagree. And despite this the minister would be left confused and at times even happy as he simply wouldn't know what hit him!

A bureaucrat recently told me that what the law minister couldn't do, a simple clerk could have done using humility and simple persuasion. If the matter escalated, the Chief Secretary could have been contacted and for sure the police would have acted!

The Delhi Police commissioner is a highly decorated, efficient and respected officer. Confrontation with him instead of a dialogue won't get you anywhere. Kejriwal's line-"Dande se hi maaanenge" misses a key point of governance. The policy shouldn't be Stick and Stick but rather Carrot and Stick. The carrot part will dawn only if you are humble and see that there are good guys among the bad. Flexibility and compromise are not always bad.

Novelty catches the people's imagination. Lage Raho Munnabhai showed how Gandhian ways can be used to get the job done leaving the opponent dumfounded. AAP has innocence and an image going for them. Innovative ways will work like a charm, but the dharna was one method invented about 80 years ago. Surely new and better ways can be found today!

I still remember the words of an old woman who when asked why she voted for AAP said that though the volunteers from all party pitched their case , the AAP volunteers were young kids who had humility and innocence in their eyes. This is the humility that created them.

Today people attack vociferously. And in response some aggression is warranted, but then again neither pure aggression nor simple humility will work. What is needed is a judicious mix. The Bhagwad Gita says "ati sartvatra varjayet"- excess should always be avoided.

The AAP supporters want to be distinct and different. They don't want to defend something that is blatantly wrong; they just hope that the good they see will overweigh the bad they are seeing. It is here that at times they criticize. AAP needs to see that this is honest criticism. And they should use defense mechanisms but do so judiciously. Defend in public, introspect in private. Also celebrate the dissent and humbly respond.

I wish to conclude with Voltaire's famous words that capture the need for dissent/criticism- "I may disagree with your views, but I will defend to death your right to say it".


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