Thursday, October 26, 2006

Pull the right levers in other people’s psyches

Second helpings Richard Morrison Seventy years after it first appeared, Dale Carnegie’s classic self-help manual How to Win Friends and Influence People is being republished in a new edition. Is it still relevant? The Times August 08, 2006
So what was his recipe for success in 1936, and would it still work in 2006? Rather as Jean-Paul Sartre was to do a few years later in Being and Nothingness (but in less pretentious prose), Carnegie put forward the thesis that we can all choose to control our lives if we wish, rather than being buffeted around by the blustery winds of fortune. He believed that most of us utilise only a tenth of our potential, and that the key to unlocking the rest is to develop our skill at dealing with other people.
How do we do that? Well, Carnegie had a brutally mechanistic view of human nature. He believed that words and deeds are largely shaped by genes, upbringing and circumstance. “You deserve very little credit for being what you are,” he tells the reader. “And remember, the people who come to you irritated, bigoted, unreasoning, deserve very little discredit for being what they are.”
This apparent denial of free will may seem chilling. But Carnegie thought it could be turned to advantage. If you know the right levers to pull in other people’s psyches, he argues, you can make them respond in an entirely predictable way, like puppets. Which, of course, is the fundamental principle upon which all cunning salesmen base their techniques — whether they are marketing soap powder to housewives or (at the time when Carnegie was writing) the concept of Aryan supremacy to Germans.
So how do you know which levers to pull? First, says Carnegie, by working out what makes your clients or customers tick. “Think always in terms of the other person’s point of view,” he advises. Rather than talking about yourself, listen patiently to them talking about themselves. Butter them up by lavishing appreciation on their work. Ferret out every personal detail you can about them, then drop this knowledge casually into the conversation; it will show them that you care. (Carnegie commends the American politician who could recall the first names of 50,000 people.)

Glass of whisky, chicken drumsticks and gobi pakoras

Happy Birthday Lord Macaulay, thank you for ‘Dalit empowerment’ Vrinda Gopinath Indian Express Home > Front Page > Story Posted online: Thursday, October 26, 2006
New Delhi, October 25: He’s the Big Mac for the Dalit intelligentsia — reviled as the ugly face of English imperialism by detractors, exalted by intellectual renegades. Lord Macaulay, denounced for trying to dare promote English among Indians, to make them “intellectual slaves’’ of the British Empire, celebrated his 206th birthday today with merriment, joviality and jesting, in the heart of the city.
It was a birthday party organized by Chandrabhan Prasad, Dalit intellectual and activist, who hails Macaulay as the Father of Indian Modernity, for it was after the introduction of his English system of education in 1854, that Dalits got the right to education, he says.
As sodas popped and the whisky poured (aptly called, Teacher’s Scotch) Prasad led his guests - a motley mix of Dalit poets, singers, academia, a sprinkling of the international media, social scientists Ashish Nandy, Gail Omvedt - to the centrepiece of the party’s action. The unveiling of a portrait, English, the Mother Goddess, painted by Dalit artist Shant Swaroop Baudh.
Said Bhan, “Today, English-speaking Dalits and Adivasis are less disrespected, therefore, empowered by Goddess English, Dalits can take their place in the new globalised world.’’ Bhan has three reasons for revering Macaulay - his insistence to teach the “natives” English broke the stranglehold of Sanskrit, Persian and Arabic teaching, a privilege of only the elite castes and, he argued,for the European kind of modern education, with focus on modern sciences. “Imagine, if we had only followed indigenous study,’’ said Bhan, “we would be like Afghanistan or Nepal today.’’ “I certainly do not agree with some of Bhan’s thesis,’’ said an aghast Nandy, “but I certainly support every oppressed community or individual’s right to pick up any weapon, be it political, academic or intellectual incorrectness, to fight the establishment. It’s the sheer audacity of it that makes it so forceful.’’
Dalit poet Parak sang a couplet to the portrait - a refashioned Statue of Liberty, wearing a hippie hat, holding a massive pink pen, standing on a computer, with a blazing map of India in the background - Oh, Devi Ma/ Please Let us Learn English/ Even the dogs understand English, to cheers and laughter, even as Lord Macaulay’s portrait, looking the perfect English buccaneer, gazed below. Bhan then declared his new intention - the painting will be printed on calendars and distributed at all Dalit conclaves and community meetings. “Hereafter, the first sounds all newborn Dalit and Adivasi babies will hear from their parents is - abcd. Immediately after birth, parents or a nearest relative will walk up to the child and whisper in the ear - abcd,’’ he said mirthfully.
“I welcome the fact that English gives access to the world,’’ said Omvedt, “but remember, some of the best English has come from oppressed quarters, like the Blacks in America. Their language, known as rap, their music, poetry, literature, has a dynamism. It’s important to reclaim your regional languages from Brahminism and Sanskritisation,’’ she says. It set the theme for other speakers, and as heaving plates of chicken drumsticks and gobi pakoras were passed around.
“Dalits must no longer see themselves as oppressed and repressed,’’ said Nandy, waving his glass of whisky, “they have their own traditions and knowledge systems which must be preserved. There’s a very powerful tradition of history, music, life, which the younger generation must be proud of.’’ Bhan nodded agreeably - he had certainly hosted an evening of Dalit empowerment and pride. There was no hard luck story here.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

To spread the faith majority at the Centre is a pre-requisite

Mayawati to embrace Buddhism Special Correspondent The Hindu Tuesday, Oct 17, 2006 ePaper PHOTO: SHANKER CHAKRAVARTY BLESSINGS: Bahujan Samaj Party supremo Mayawati seeking blessings from a Buddhist monk after paying homage to Kanshi Ram in New Delhi on Monday.
New Delhi: Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati and her followers will embrace Buddhism after the BSP gains an absolute majority at the Centre. Ms. Mayawati announced this on Monday at the conclusion of the seventh day rites of party founder Kanshi Ram which were conducted according to Buddhist tradtions at her New Delhi residence.
Addressing the press, she said that although Kanshi Ram did not convert to Buddhism, he was Buddhist by belief. It was exactly 50 years ago, on October 14, 1956, that Babasaheb Ambedkar converted to Buddhism. "It was Manyavar's dream to see the BSP in power at the Centre, and in the States, before the 50th anniversary of Babasaheb's conversion. Unfortunately, that did not happen," she said.
What was the connection between political power and religious conversion? The BSP chief said power was essential to spread any faith. "It is not about me becoming a Buddhist. I could do it today but it would be just me. We have to spread the faith for which absolute majority at the Centre is a pre-requisite."
Ms. Mayawati said she lit the funeral pyre of Kanshi Ram because both she and her mentor strongly believed in gender equality. "It was his view, and also mine, [that] boys and girls are equal in all respects. If a girl can discharge other responsibilities, there is no reason why she cannot perform the last rites of her near and dear. I believe that my gesture is an example for other women; by lighting the funeral pyre of my guru I have laid the foundation of future social transformation."