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Good Spokesmanship is the Hallmark of a Progressive Civilization

I love the art of public speaking far more than I care to admit. I hate bad oratory with an equal level of passion. What I find most repulsive is oratory which flaunts an ill-mannered personality, is filled with shamelessly abusive language and possesses barbaric rudeness just to convey a series of blatant lies. Just like some people love movies, I love watching speeches by some of the great speakers in the world. Like movie buffs desire top class locally produced movies, I also like local good quality oratory. 

The significance of public speaking for Sikkimese society cannot be gainsaid. We are not a reading culture and therefore we are not a thinking culture. Even in the 21st century, we have sustained our oral tradition. The construction of public opinions, expression of experts’ views, sources of learning – all happens orally. That explains why the grandest Sikkimese ideas and opinions cannot be found in books. That explains why our seriously thoughtful Sikkimese people are marginalized by their garrulous counterparts. Even if we seriously take 50 per cent of these generalizations, we can safely conclude that the Sikkimese public IQ is determined by the quality of their oral source of knowledge.

I, therefore, understand how important it is for those who use their lips in public all the time to ponder what they say and vie for constant upgrading of themselves. Such folks include leaders, teachers and media persons. Sikkim is exposed to their oral communication all the time.

The level and the content of our social communication, to a large extent, are therefore the reflection of the quality of the above three in the state. If we have made progress, kudos to them. If we haven’t, they must reflect on the matter. 

During the lockdown, the most audible group has been the SPOKESPERSONS. They have been heard in the morning, afternoon, evening and night. They have fulfilled their duty with religious regularity and passion.

My humble suggestion to them is simply this – if you want to contribute to the foundation of building up a robust intellectual society, here is what you need to do:

Be polite and use good language. You are not only representing your political parties and party chief, you are representing the Sikkimese society. The inherently polite and civilized Sikkimese soul must be represented in a befitting manner. If politeness and civilized language are not your traits, please leave the job to somebody else who can do it in a more dignified manner. 

We are not expecting our spokespersons to talk like Shashi Tharoor and Narendra Modi. However, spokespersons, by definition, should be the best speakers in the lot. Try to raise the standard of your language in terms of grammar, vocabulary, intonation, etc. 

If the level of intellectual discourse in politics is going to rise, our debaters must work way harder than the majority of them are doing right now. Do intense hard work on facts and figures. I sincerely believe a half an hour of press conference must be preceded by at least 50 to 60 hours of serious study. 

Politics, technically, should be a battle of truth and not the art of telling lies convincingly. Refrain from telling lies at the drop of a hat. Every spokesman must remind himself of this, that if the next generation politician were to build on his/her style of presenting facts, how much more honesty or otherwise would be added to politics as value addition or deletion.

Do not insult public intelligence. The majority of young people are educated and informed. I frequently receive emails from people who are completely frustrated with some political leaders in this regard – spokespersons who are ‘dumbing’ people down all the time. Just because you are the one facing the camera does not mean that the rest of the world doesn’t know what you pretend to know. The level of public understanding in the emergent generation is ever on the rise. Gone are the days when the entire generation would blindly follow the silly opinions of a few smart bluff-masters.

Finally, concede your mistakes. That’s what we need to do as humans. What our society needs is honesty and honesty is all about admitting mistakes and making sincere attempts to resolve them.

Good spokesmanship is the hallmark of progressive civilization and the opposite of this fact is just as true.

“Be polite and use good language. You are not only representing your political parties and party chief, you are representing the Sikkimese society. The inherently polite and civilized Sikkimese soul must be represented in a befitting manner. If politeness and civilized language are not your traits, please leave the job to somebody else who can do it in a more dignified manner.”

By Jiwan Rai. The author can be contacted at jiwanr@gmail.com

Views/Opinions expressed in the article or write up is purely of the author/writer and not of The Sikkim Chronicle. For any queries or contradictions, the author can be contacted in his/her email id.

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