A well known proverb in Kannada, with its equivalents in most other Indian languages says ‘there is no quarrel for one who knows how to talk and no health problems for one who knows how to eat’.
‘The Vedas may err, but not proverbs’ goes another’. Going by the utterances of public figures and prominent personalities, one cannot but agree with this. Highly placed, accomplished and veteran politicos they are, but this foot-in-mouth disease has not exempted them from its vicious clutches. This affliction seems to be acquiring epidemic proportions of late.
Characterised by acute verbal diarrhoea, it makes the sufferer utter things he would not even dream of in his wildest dreams. Take the case of BJP leader Nitin Gadkari. Why else would he attempt to compare the intelligences of Swami Vivekananda and gangster Dawood Ibrahim? No doubt, he clarified that he only meant to say that using one’s intelligence in the right manner was more important than just being endowed generously in the upper regions.
But by then the damage had been done. Remember Beni Prasad Verma’s statement during the recent controversy over Khurshid Alam Khan’s NGO matters? He was only trying to say that Khurshid would not stoop to misappropriating public funds, but poor thing, he blurted out saying “I don’t think Khurshid would do anything for just 71 lakhs” thereby giving the affair a mysterious and ominous air. Poor Sriprakash Jaiswal only meant to say that objects tend to lose their attractiveness due to the vagaries of time, but ended up comparing this to wives who lose their ‘enjoyability’ with age. Gosh! Sushilkumar Shinde said it right when he said that public memory is short and the coal block allocation scam would be forgotten soon.
Narendra Modi was expressing his concern over malnutrition when he spoke about women concentrating on their figures. An SP leader touchingly said that bureaucrats should not steal in large amounts. Mulayam Singh Yadav strongly supports the Women’s Reservation Bill. In 2010 he had said that the bill would fill parliament with women who would attract catcalls and whistles. And now he says rural women being not as attractive as urban women, the bill will not benefit them.
Let’s move on the United States of America. The just concluded presidential election campaign saw Obama saying “I want to see us export more jobs...”, but realising the blunder, said he was only criticising Mitt Romney. Who can forget blabbering Bush and his ‘Bushisms’ who said “Our enemies are innovative and resourceful and so are we. They never stop thinking of new ways to harm our country and our people and neither do we”.
Psychoanalysis calls this as ‘Freudian slip’ or ‘parapraxis’, a wiring glitch in the brain which makes us say something when we actually mean something else, an indicator of suppressed desires and thoughts. Revealing slips? (pun unintended!). They may just be banana peels in the path of a sentence but don’t forget, ‘Better the foot slip than the tongue’.