Artful speakers

Artful speakers

Some people’s capacity for public speaking is phenomenal. They speak for all and sundry occasions. There is no subject on which they cannot speak; topics may range from Bharatnatyam to Kalaripayattu, Ghalib to Ramayana. You choose the topic, they are ready with a speech. There is no inadequacy in them. They are the special breed of public speakers, ubiquitously present on every public platform.

They have honed public speaking into a fine art. The ‘art’ they pursue is ‘artful’. They direct their art to impress large gatherings and to draw applause. In this they succeed admirably. They speak with ease at gatherings of rationalists on the virtues of sceptical attitude. Next you would find them speaking for religious gatherings with equal vehemence upon the necessity of unconditional acceptance of its teachings, the teaching depending upon the religion on which they are speaking for the moment. Unmindful of the contradictions they keep going with great gusto.

To a person, who has heard them on different occasions, having doubts in their honesty is natural enough. A friend who belongs to this category of public speakers was questioned once. But undeterred he pursues his art in a most brazen manner. You scratch him only to know his knowledge is at best superficial but yet his ability to put his art into use has remained undiminished.

To appreciate the point, all one needs to do is to follow any such speaker in any media over a period of time. There is no dearth of them. Politicians and religious gurus take the lead. One would realise that while the politician’s gluttony for eating his own words is insatiable, the latter’s public uttering is often sanctimonious humbuggery.

What keeps these people ticking in public life? Is it the credulity of the people who come to hear them or is it that they have no means to test the veracity of the speaker or are they indifferent? The truth may lie in any of these. These are our present day leaders. Their means of attaining the leadership may be anything, but their tenacity to remain there entirely depends on their public speaking and image building.

But the irony is that these leaders, instead of leading are invariably led by the mass. The consequence is obfuscation of social issues and a loss of direction. There is hardly a leader who can speak out his conscience and guide the people. They have become redundant in a society where there is constant erosion of values. Instead the society is churning out pygmies. Paradoxically these are the leaders perhaps the society deserves too.

Comparisons may be odious. But one cannot help reminiscing an illiterate priest from Dakshineshwar, galvanising a small band of men, setting a world mission in motion or a loin clad Gandhi stirring millions of his countrymen to bring down a mighty empire! They spoke plain and simple. Yet they always spoke truth.

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