Politics and humour

Shiban Khaibri
Perhaps it could be said, by many of us, that in the prevailing political scenario in the country, politics has somewhat become more humorous and the two could not, in most of the cases, be segregated. That being a debatable proposition, however, the role of humour in the human behaviour has been that of an inseparable nature as it is a means to distinguish between the good and the bad , the genuine and the counterfeit , the mature and the immature, the honest and the dishonest. It has been in use since ages and adequately employed to convey areas of disagreement, critical appreciation, non or under performance, vice and crime in the society, besides taking on political and dogmatically prevalent changeable practices and propositions. The fact of the matter is, however, that it should be creative and not offensive or demeaning. It could also turn into buffoonery even inanity, if not delivered in the requisite disciplined way and with considerations of others’ sensibilities. It is gaining more importance and calls for exercising utmost caution when a politician is thinking to do a bit of humour amidst of stereo typed political rhetoric, indulged in most of the time for different reasons, mainly nowadays, to get through escape routes from various omissions and commissions , may be a few committed innocently.
Citing an instance of the sorts, Union minister Sriprakash Jaiswal was invited as the chief guest in a symposium, a kavi sammalen at a girls’ college in Kanpur on Sept30. Now, in an environ of a literary gathering of young poetesses reciting their poems and other literary pieces and Jaiswal wishing to go in for a small de- stressing exercise, wanted to be literary in that in his speech, he aspired to get applause from the audience for dishing out a piece of humour. He, therefore, took up the “project” in his stride. What, however, lacked was the seemingly absence of a small home work done as what to speak and how to speak, little knowing that humour was a part of the philosopher’s armament with which he or she seeks wisdom. Humour was intended to teach and preach in the opinion of Mark Twain who held,” Humour must not professedly teach and it must not professedly preach but it must do both if it would live for ever.” Instead of getting accolades of the sorts, Jaiswal Ji got himself in the marsh of a huge controversy as he, instead of sharing a pleasant and a literary humour, unwittingly and of course unintentionally, put his foot in the mouth by passing on a repulsive sexiest comment. Indulging in a humour of virtual insolence , he said that women were prone to lose their charm with their age. Not only this, he added an oxymoron or two by saying that “new victory and new marriage respectively had their special charm and importance and as time passed away, the memories of victory faded away just like a wife got older, there was no enjoyment.” Jaiswal wanted to compare India’s win in T-20 cricket match with Pakistan to a marriage.
The Minister’s remarks drew instantaneous attention of the audience and his remarks were objected to, making him beat a hasty retreat. The news was flashed on most of the TV channels with the pungently humourous remarks being played and replayed and people especially women, registering their protest and resentment. The minister curiously enough, like every time, parked the blame on the media as having quoted the remarks out of context as “it was very easy to delete words from a recording and suspected a conspiracy” and that “my remarks have been misconstrued”. He had no alternative but to tender an apology calling the comment just a light hearted one. He, however, went on a damage building exercise by saying,” I will never hurt the sentiments of women and I am a member of the Congress party that respects women, mothers and sisters.” Mamta Sharma, the Head of the National Commission for women, while criticizing the remarks said, “You cannot compare a woman to a victory. In a marriage as years go by, relations become stronger, we shall be writing to the PM and the Congress President.”
Did he want to lighten his heart that was already heavily over laden with the coalgate scam or he wanted to lighten others’ hearts in which unfortunately he did not succeed either, as very often, the government he is in, does with the “Aam Aadmi” keeping only promising never to be fulfilled. It is said that people are not fully capable of knowing exactly what it is they find amusing, again in the Aristotlian thinking, because of the complexities of the nature of their minds and consciousness about things around. Jokes or humourous remarks are passed rather crafted by those employing humour that have experience with how to cause laughter. One must have a sense of humour as well as a sense of seriousness to distinguish what is supposed to be taken literally and what not. A lot of discretion is needed especially by people holding high offices in governance of the country, when they choose to speak humour to make a serious point.
We fairly know about the legendary Laxman’s cartoons of humour as well as pun, revealing a lot in just a small remark and that too in a highest stature of standard , both in the literary as well as in the prudential sense. Humour, after all is a very healthy behaviour and strangely has a peculiar phenomenon in that, humour is appreciated by the ones who have interest in humour , others cannot underline the beauty of it. It is imperative that our politicians must think aptly before passing remarks laced with humour especially when people are sickened with the plummeting standards of our politics as recent reports suggest that those charged of offences like financial scams, irregularities, having been to jails etc; are reported to be inducted in important committees of the government and more importantly, when people are on the brink of losing faith in the type of governance where the Aam Aadmi has to struggle every day for his or her sustenance. That, however, does not mean that there should be no room for humour in our lives, “the gods too are fond of jokes”, asserts Aristotle and we are only human beings.


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