December 16, 2007

Personally, who cares?

Reason to respect your political leaders, #2743:
  • Their willingness to support a cause
Yesterday (Dec 15th) was the one-hour Batti Bandh event. Today's DNA carries a report about how Maharashtra politicians responded to it. A few lines from it:
    CM Vilasrao Deshmukh, Home Minister RR Patil and Revenue Minister Narayan Rane's homes ... remained lit.


    RR Patil's staff ... stated that they hadn't received orders to switch off the lights. A staff member said: "We don't switch off lights during the evening, why should we do so today?"


    When asked as to why the CM was not supporting the campaign, a staffer commented, "The CM can promote the campaign on TV or in print, but personally doing it is very different. We have heard about the campaign, but have received no instructions on switching off the lights."
Yes, why should a CM "personally" do what he urges the rest of us to do?


Vivek Kumar said...

Didn't know anything about the event, and when I tried to visit their website (link in your post).. it appears to be down (not making puns about pulling the plug or shutting it down, you see!).

The three ministers that you named.. had they pledged support to the campaign? I have to ask because your post did not mention that (links?) and the website is down.

B said...

the ministers and their staff could not have been in the dark, is the point, I suppose.

Dilip D'Souza said...

Vivek: had they pledged support to the campaign?

I have no idea. But why is that relevant? The others who participated in the campaign by just switching off lights, in what sense had they "pledged support" to it?

The distinction that's been drawn between promoting the campaign and "personally doing it" is what caught my eye.

Vivek Kumar said...

I wouldn't criticize someone for not donating to a cause when they had made no such promises. That's why I raised a query in my first comment.

The distinction that you point out was not made by the personalities in question. So, once again, I see no reason for aiming criticism at them.

About Reason No. 2743 (as mentioned by you).. if a politician gets 100 calls a day to show personal support to various causes, do you expect him to personally support all such causes?

Why is celebrity endorsement (which is what this would be, I suppose) sought anyway? For their personal participation? Or for getting the word out to people? I assume it is the latter, because that is what the event's website says (it is up at this moment).

Incidentally, one of people named by you is listed on the page "support received". I am not sure what to make of it in the light of (pun unintended) your post now.

Dilip D'Souza said...

Vivek: if a politician gets 100 calls a day to show personal support to various causes, do you expect him to personally support all such causes?

Fair question. Answer: no.

But there's a difference between "gets 100 calls a day" and "promote the campaign on TV or in print."

After all, it's not likely that the politician is appearing on TV promoting all 100 causes a day he gets calls about.

I couldn't care less whether it is a celebrity or a nonentity: if someone is publicly promoting something, I reasonably expect that the person follows that something themselves.

Years ago a government servant I know got publicly congratulated by a then CM for marrying "outside" his community. When they met in private, the CM told the officer he would never allow such a thing in his own family. Officer said, "but you were so appreciative of me!" CM said words to the effect, "That's for public consumption."

Similar case to here. Was as worthy of criticism as here.

Vivek Kumar said...

I agree. That's why I raised a question in my first comment.

If a politician did not express any public support, then why should he be criticized for lack of follow-up action on the same?

In your previous comment (in reply to my first one) you said that you had no idea whether these politicians had pledged support or not. How is this a parallel to the incident you narrated about a previous CM? Then, the CM had showed a clear difference between what he preached in public and what he practiced in private. Now, you don't know whether he preached or not.

Sounds like unfair criticism to me.

Dilip D'Souza said...

Vivek: Somebody publicly promotes a campaign. Evidence: his own staffers, who say he "can promote the campaign on TV or in print."

Has he "pledged" support to the campaign? I have no idea, because I have not heard what this person says on TV or read him in print; and while his name appears on the campaign website, I don't know if that constitutes a "pledge". To me, this "pledge" is irrelevant anyway.

After this, the same person does not do what the campaign that he promoted urged people to do. In other words, he does not do what he urged people to do.

To me, this seems like a contradiction. If I did it, or a friend did it, it would seem like a contradiction.

In the case of the government servant and the CM, I have no idea if the CM "pledged" his support to the "cause" of marrying outside the community. It's irrelevant to me. What he did do is praise someone for doing it, but then explained that that was only for public consumption, not for his own family. In precisely the same way, it seems like a contradiction.

If that's unfair criticism, I'll live with it.

Mayuresh Gaikwad said...


It is mentioned on the homepage of the event that this event was upported by the Mayor, Shiv-sena WP Uddhav Thakarey and the Essar group.
It would be interesting to know if the lights in the Mayor's bungalow and in the Sena Bhavan in Dadar were switched off. If no, that's double standards.
The website does not mention of the CM/DCM/RM anyone else supporting the campaign.

You said: ""
Vivek: Somebody publicly promotes a campaign. Evidence: his own staffers, who say he "can promote the campaign on TV or in print."
I think the staffer meant that he did not know whether the CM supported the campaign publicly or not, however, he is not bound to follow it on his own. Just this statement from the staffer does not imply that the CM supported the campaign.

Vivek Kumar said...


How does "The CM can promote the campaign on TV or in print ... " translate to "The CM supported (or promoted) the campaign on TV or in print ... "

I suppose you could make this translation if the CM himself had said it. But he didn't. It was said by a staffer who had merely "heard about the campaign". I am much more inclined to go with Mayuresh's interpretation (he is wrong about the CM's name not being listed though - he is listed by name, not by designation).

To be clear, it is not about the meaning of "pledge". When I asked you whether he had pledged support, I would've accepted "yes" as an answer if you had said that he promoted it on TV etc. Your word would have been enough. Now, it is not. Not after seeing that the campaign website listed his name under "support received". As I said before, I am not sure what to make of it in the light of conflicting information.

I hope you understand my problem with your post now.

Incidentally, quite a few personalities and organizations are listed under "support received". I would be interested in looking at a full audit report of this support.

PS: Please don't say "If that's unfair criticism, I'll live with it" when you are the one making the criticism! You might as well. But what about the person receiving the flak?

Dilip D'Souza said...

Vivek: I suspect we're going in circles. Therefore, one last comment from me on this. (Though you should feel free to add more).

Your first question on this page was, "had they pledged support to the campaign?".

First, since I think a "pledge" is essentially irrelevant (because you don't have to make a pledge to actually support the campaign, or participate in it), I said so.

Nevertheless, since you think it is important (I didn't, which is why I haven't mentioned it), the Mumbai Unplug site itself says here: "The city's top bosses including the Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh and many others praise the initiative and assure their support."

I don't know if you think "assure" is the same as "pledge", but that's what the site says.

(Note that the CM's name and designation are mentioned -- i.e. both you and Mayuresh are mistaken).

Second, now you say your problem is "not about the meaning of 'pledge'". I don't know what the problem is then, because that was your original question, about a pledge.

You seem to agree with me about the previous incident (about marrying "outside"). It seems precisely analogous to me: that CM, in a sense, publicly supported the idea of marrying outside, just as this CM supported the idea of Batti Bandh. That CM made no pledge of personally supporting the idea of marrying outside; and I have no idea if this CM made a pledge of personally supporting the idea of Batti Bandh (and in any case I think such pledges are irrelevant). That CM then privately rejected the idea of marrying outside, just as this CM privately didn't do anything about Batti Bandh.

Why do you think one CM deserves criticism, whereas the other doesn't?

Of course I'll live with the criticism. This is not the first time I've been told I'm criticising someone unfairly, nor, I am sure, will it be the last. In some cases, I've agreed that it was unfair (and made amends). In others, I have not. Whatever the case, I live with it.

As I said, that's that last from me on this.

Mayuresh, I passed the Mayor's bungalow a few minutes before 730, and the lights were on. So I don't know if Her Excellency participated. I did not pass Shiv Sena Bhavan.

Nobody is "bound to follow" a campaign. The whole point of this post was what I said in my first comment here: the distinction drawn between promoting the campaign and "personally doing it".

Vivek Kumar said...


If you are going to criticize someone for NOT donating to the cause, a pledge (or assurance of support in some other form) is not irrelevant at all. If no such support was expressed, they don't become hypocrites by not donating.

If you had stated, right in the beginning (preferably in your post itself), that the CM had indeed expressed support for the campaign, and yet not switched off the lights, then we would not be having this discussion. You did no such thing till your latest comment. Before this, the best I got from you was your interpretation of a staffer's comment (hinged upon the meaning of "can" in a statement, which, in all likelihood, is an English translation of a statement made in Marathi).

In my previous comment, I have already clarified that the meaning of "pledge" is not what my query was about. Pledge, assurance of support, statement of support, praise for the campaign.. it is all the same in this case, because after doing any of these, if the person did not switch off the lights, you can rightly criticize him for being a hypocrite.

If it was an issue about my use of the word "pledge", you could have simply told me that they did not pledge, but they said they would support the campaign.

About their website.. to repeat myself, the CM's name is listed (minus the designation) on the "support received" page (that was all I claimed):

So now, one page on the website mentions him as having assured them of his support and another page on the same website mentions his name on the "support received" list. I hope you understand the confusion I now have between their website and your post.

BTW.. I haven't said that the CM does not deserve criticism. I was asking you to mention that a pledge (or a promise, expression, statement) of support was made, but not kept. That does not translate to defending him. If it wasn't clear, let it be clear now.

My last words on this too (more than anything else, the word verification tires me out by making me type twice for every comment, three times for this comment).

Dilip D'Souza said...

Vivek: point noted. Word verification is history.

Anonymous said...

i dont follow what the argument in these comments is about. the cm promoted the bati bandh thing, clearly. asked us all to take part. then he does not do it himself!!

what is unfair in thinking this is hypo-critical? i think it is.

Vivek Kumar said...


Thanks! This is really quite a relief!

Jai_Choorakkot said...

1. I'm not sure switching off power in the *offices* of such people as the CM and the HM is a good idea.

I rather expect them to be available and responsive beyond "office hours" so they should have home offices, and these should be powered, functional and ready to use 24x7. time spent switching on and booting up systems in an emergency is time wasted.

They can show their involvement by switching off in the residential portions of their homes. I wish they did.

2. Batti bandh itself: good, demonstrative but more useful IMHO to avoid one hour of TV everyday and spend that time talking with family -extend the dinner time. And just switch off every unnecessary item every time.

Swatting mosquitoes for one hour of voluntary powerlessness in the dark is no fun esp. when I already get to do it fairly regularly on an involuntary basis.