Friday, April 24, 2009

Pen is Mightier than the sword *...

..* and SHOE IS MIGHTIER THAN THE PEN. The next time you step out of the house, have a closer look at your shoes. Apparently innocuous accessories for our feet have transformed into a new weapon in the hands of the media to deal with love-to-hate politicians.

This unusual trend, acting as the harbinger of dirty shoes in dirty politics, started when an angry Iraqi journalist became the pioneer of this novel mode of freedom of expression by throwing a shoe at U.S. President George Bush at a press conference in Baghdad. People who think that it was just a strange and maybe unacceptable way of expressing one's anger should take a chill pill and continue reading this piece by the end of which I will try to convince the cynics of the power of this new revolution. Besides giving some good practice to both Mr. Bush and Iraqi Prime minister Nouri Maliki in 'grenade-catching' (yes, he threw the second shoe too - of course it would have been useless anyways without its partner whose chances of recovery slim!!), it also inspired some restless minds in search of a breakthrough in communication revolution -- at last they found their calling! The importance of the former advantage can not be undermined though, esp. given the usual games two countries have indulged in the past few years but that deserves to be a topic for a separate article. Let us concentrate on the mini-revolution of shoe hurling here.

As always, Indians are fast on catching up with the western trends, or at least in this case what happens to people out there. And for all his dropping popularity ratings, President Bush remains a westerner, that too reasonably well known. So fast forward to April 2009. The venue is again a press conference, though summoned by Indian Finance Minister P. Chidambram..and whalloa! Whoever said history repeats itself, forgot to add, very often!! A shoe again flew through the air and missed the target. The launchpad was again a journo, aggrieved by the pronouncements of a politician. Funny ..?? Outrageous... maybe!

But let us not forget the strategic issues which the above two incidents bring to light, in our haste to condemn them or be bemused. First and foremost, being a politician is no longer as safe as it used to be. The recent overhaul of military equipment for our security forces in the wake of Mumbai terror attacks is urgently required to cater to our politicians too. They should be provided with ballistic helmets and headgear before attending any press conference or public event. The helmets should, of course, be proven resistant to bullets, grenades and SHOES. Also all that paunchy fat won't do sir... remember that it was the agility of the target after all (at least in Baghdad case) which saved it from the surface-to-surface shoe missile. So any elected Member of Parliament should be elected on interim basis. The interns should then be required to run at least a mile every morning to keep in shape. In fact, they can use this opportunity to manage a look into their respective constituencies, a rare feat which they otherwise undertake only during elections. This may be followed by a training where the security personnel can throw shoes on them for 30 minutes to test their proficiency on dodging them. Only those who are able to maintain a high 'duck-rate', averaged over a period of month or so can qualify to take up the dangerous job of being a parliamentarian. (Have I given myself way - yes I am an experimentalist! 8-).

Besides this, to ensure the safety of our shoo-able political bosses, some measures are recommended at other end of spectrum too. All the public visitors should be profiled, at least their shoes most definitely, and anyone sporting footwear hevaier than a kilogram should be booked under S-POTA = Shoes on Politician Obstruction and Termination Act. As an added precaution, sale of such footwear can be banned altogether. Of course, this would halve the business of brands like Woodland.. but nothing is more important than national security! And ladies, heels are an absolute no-no. Try to find less hazardous and head-splitting avenues to display the woman-power.

Also, a legislation may be considered which requires that in rallies which are attended by a large number of people, all the attendees should come bare-footed (else imagine a single slip in the speech and what a zoo of shoes can end up being on the stage..... scary man). On second thoughts, it might have been sheer farsightedness on part of our leaders, to ensure that most of their humble subjects remain humble... deprived of food, shelter and shoes!

So while our media schools are busy including a shoe-hurling class in their curriculum and the scribes are honing their skills at shooting and targeting (I would keep a tab on all the shoe sales to journos if I was a M.P., seriously), let us continue to keep a watch on this amazing new trend in our politics. And all you budding journalists out there, stop blogging and go buy yourself a pair of shoes.... shoo shoo!