Random Thoughts

Safety Valve for Good Governance

A nation is very much like a human body or a machine. Let us think of a small home appliance like pressure cooker. Its efficiency increases considerably because it works under high pressure and temperature. However, to keep it safe there is a ‘safety valve’ that releases extra vapour pressure. Likewise, when man, very much like a machine, works under pressure and over longer hours, he is gripped by fatigue, tension and anxiety.

What is the ‘safety valve’ for an overworked man?

More than rest, sleep and nutrition, it is humour that plays wonders! A hearty laugh can release all the pressure and renew his energies to start the work afresh.

The same thing applies to a nation, too. Scientific research, development, growth in infrastructure, booming market, import and export, rise and fall in share market and voluminous statistics in support of these achievements are comparable to fat accumulation in human body. These add, at times, unnecessary weight. These are essential though, the essence of success lies somewhere else.

What is required for the body is not the bulk or weight loss, but peace at heart that counts most for creativity, progress, happiness, success and prosperity. The nutrition for the heart is humour. It is, in fact, the ‘safety valve’ for healthy growth. A case in study is the strong sense of humour in Punjab that not only helps Bhangra going, but makes it one of the most prosperous states in India. Jokes abound, the Jews in the world are considered to be the most enterprising in the fields of education, science, technology, industry and business.

This rare commodity is fast dwindling from our society. There was a time when India took inspiration from Shankar’s Weekly, daily cartoons of R K Laxman, Sudhir Dhar, Abu Abraham and many others.

There was a time when our Parliament House was abuzz with laughter. Late Piloo Mody can be singled out as one such MP to provide both life and fun. Heated discussions, disagreements and even anger could be cooled down by a few drops humour at the right moment and the House will pave the way for good relationship among the MPs cutting across party affiliations. Is this not a great victory for democracy?

Mutual respect, good will, admiration and even affection are the corner stones for good governance.

In order to prove my points, I shall draw a few anecdotes.

In a discussion on Marriage Bill, Mrs Tarkeshwari Sinha, the then hon’ble Minister, was arguing from the Treasury Bench, when vociferous late Ram Manohar Lohia got up to intervene. Wearing a smile on a bewitchingly beautiful face, Mrs Sinha told, ‘Hon’ble member is a bachelor. What can he talk on the Marriage Bill? The House – both Treasury Bench and the opposition, burst into laughter, when witty Lohia shot back, ‘Madam, aap ne mujhe kab mauka diya: madam, when did you give me an opportunity?’ Along with all the MPs, Mrs Sinha too could not control herself!

This is good democracy.

In another instance, late Sri Jag Jeevan Ram, then a very successful Railways Minister, was proposing a Bill to allow the spouses of Hon’ble Ministers and  MPs to accompany them. Atal Behari Bajpai, then a young and handsome MP, who remained bachelor even to this day, got up and asked if the Hon’ble Minister would permit the friends to accompany. There were echoes of chuckles in the House.

After the noise died down, with the usual cool and amiable smile Babu Jag Jeevan Ram snapped, ‘The Bill is for the souse, not for spice.’

The House once again went mad with hilarious laughter.

Before I end my essay I shall describe another. During the emergency in 1975-76, the concerned Hon’ble Minister claimed at a Press Conference that press censorship has been imposed to ‘stop the spread of rumour’, to which Abu Abraham, a noted cartoonist and then a Rajya Sabha member jumped up to snap, 'But why stop the spread of Humour?’ Every body, including the Hon’ble Minister, had a hearty laugh, and Abu was let off. 

I consider these to be good signs of democracy. Besides other ingredients, mutual respect and human values play a big role to keep a nation together and progress faster.


More by :  Dr. Kumarendra Mallick

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