Have we Indians lost our sense of humour?

24 Sep 09 Have we Indians lost our sense of humour?

politicianMr. Shashi Tharoor is the latest hapless victim of the “Indian sensibility”. A spate of newspapers delightedly reported how the Minister had been castigated by his bosses for his insensitive comments. Quoting the Indian Express …..’the party told him bluntly to “desist from any comment or action, even jokingly, that would hurt sentiments of the common man”’

Yes – the same “common man” who is invoked every time a politician wants to express his or her personal opinion!

But is the “common man” complaining? Most of us are enjoying the “tamasha”, even as Congress party hotshots are doing their best to condemn Mr. Tharoor! Do politicians think that we Indians are so brittle that we can’t handle a joke (even if it’s in bad taste)?

Or is this simply a chance to get back at Mr. Tharoor, an “outsider” whose political career so far has been nothing less than spectacular?

After all, he’s one of the most coherent speakers among politicians, and comes across as a really smart guy. (I’ve heard him speak at a conference last year, and was suitably impressed despite much initial skepticism.) He also has the background and sophistication to appeal to the unrepresented middle class, including a large chunk of India’s youth. Maybe this is why many of his fellow party members haven’t lost the opportunity to denounce him publicly?

I agree that a minister needs to be more careful about what he says (or tweets) in public. And this is a lesson that Mr. Tharoor has surely learnt. However, the hue and cry (and that too, from his own party) is a bit absurd, even surreal.

Methinks we Indians have forgotten how to laugh at ourselves. Maybe I should qualify that! Our politicians and others who claim to represent us, have assumed that we have no sense of humour. And that we are highly “sensitive” folk. Every issue can be politicised, and that’s what they’re good at – all in the name of the “common man”.

We’re now so sensitive about everything – from a word in a movie or song, to a tweet, to interpretation of history, to art, to almost anything at all – that we (read: some political thugs pretending to be voicing our opinions) react with anger and end up burning buses and endangering our neighbours. Is this sensitivity or insensivity?

As a final thought – if this continues, they will end up banning Sardarji jokes!

Arun Jethmalani
Arun Jethmalani

Arun is one of the founders of ValueNotes. Apart from trying to build a high-quality research business, he has spent the last 27 years researching, analyzing, and dissecting companies and industries. He has worked with clients of all shapes and sizes, from all parts of the world – in providing them insights that make a difference to their business.
Prior to ValueNotes, he was an equity analyst/advisor, and wrote extensively on investing – including a column titled “Value for Money” which ran for 10 years in the Sunday edition of the Economic Times. To this day, he remains an avid “value” investor.
He has also been published in several other publications, and is a regular speaker at events related to technology, investing, competitive intelligence, business process management, Internet, etc. See: Valuenotes Events
He has been instrumental in developing a community of research and intelligence professionals in India, and is the founder and current chairman of the SCIP (India) Chapter. Arun holds a B Tech from IIT, Bombay and an MS from Duke University, NC, USA. LinkedIn Profile

  • Rathin
    Posted at 15:05h, 14 December Reply

    Were they supposed to come up with an IPO in March09? Mr. Praful Patel told that markets are quite down and the IPO wont justify the airliners correct valuation.
    Can we really value a (consistent) loss making company?

  • Aditya
    Posted at 01:46h, 21 October Reply

    I believe, we always tend to ‘waste’ all our energy on such petty issues which take us nowhere…
    The Government, in a more responsible manner look forward to what it should be doing best!

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