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The permanent power of silence
A man who lives right, and is right, has more power in his silence than another has by his words. Some Sundays back I mused silently on 'silence'. Dr. Manmohan Singh justified his silence in the Parliament. Life is a hyphen between two long silences.

MOTHER TERESA once wrote: "We need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature - trees, flowers, grass- grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence... We need silence to be able to touch souls.”

Very recently the Prime Minister said in the Parliament : “Hazaron jawabon se achchi hai meri khamoshi, na jaane kitne swaalon ki aabru rakhe (My silence is better than a thousand answers. If I start answering then, it will throw up several more questions which will beg answers). Even Che Guevera might have endorsed the comment of Dr. Manmohan Singh, as he once said, “Silence is argument carried out by other means.”

But there are some occasions when silence surprises us. Recently, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency banned cyclist Lance Armstrong, the winner of seven consecutive Tour de France races, for doping. The seven Tour de France victories came after he survived cancer, and therefore his silence, in not responding to and fighting the charges, is dumbness. Actually we make heros of some outstanding performers. But when they are found lacking in moral integrity we have no other way but to be silent.

The same thing happened when South African cricket and captain Hansie Cronje was banned from playing or coaching cricket for life after being found guilty of match fixing. Cronje's form in 1991/92 was impressive especially in the one-day format where he averaged 61.40. He earned an international call up for the 1992 World Cup making his One Day International  debut against Australia at Sydney.

After his tragic death, the biographical film ‘Hansie’ was released for portraying him in a positive light and as a victim of circumstance lured by an evil system of illegal gambling and bookmakers from India. But our long silence prevailed and the words of  Dr. Manmohan Singh echo : “Hazaro Jawabon se achchi hai meri khamoshi”.

Scandals by politicians make us silent. The Bofors scandal was a big corruption scandal in the 1980s and 1990s; allegedly initiated by Congress and several others who were accused of receiving kickbacks from Bofors for winning a bid to supply India 155 mm field howitzers. The opposition cried loud all over India : “goli goli mein shor hai, Rajiv Gandhi chor hai”. That was also a long silence and still there is a strange silence maintained by Sonia Gandhi and her family members about the kickback.

Despite the controversy the Bofors gun was used extensively as the primary field artillery during the Kargil War with Pakistan, and gave India 'an edge' against Pakistan according to battlefield commanders. But the critics are silent. We are silent because of the stunning blow to our conscience. Is it possible for a leader of Rajiv Gandhi’s stature to take this kickback, really?

We are silent when we see with the millions of people around the world seeing the naked Prince Harry. He is a disgrace like his father. The royal family is silent but furious at Harry for his birthday suit-clad shenanigans. His Las Vegas antics in nudity surprised us. Katrina Darling, the stripper who was related to the Duchess of Cambridge, supported Harry saying that his nude antics are neither wrong nor sordid. 

But silence really prevailed when I read the news that American astronaut Neil Armstrong, the first person to walk on the Moon died at the age of 82. I was at that time a school boy of 12 when I, beyond my expectation, received a large packet sent by the Voice of America radio station. The packet contained all the pictures of the moonwalkers : Neil Armstrong whose small step was a big leap for mankind, Edwin Aldrin, and Michael Collins. I was overwhelmed with joy to get those fabulous colourful  pictures. I still remember how a large number of people thronged our house in the village to see those heroes who shattered the myth of the old female weaver on the moon.

The other moonwalker was Michael Jackson who too is silent after singing the famous lines of the Moonwalk Song : “Annie, are you ok?/So, Annie are you ok/Are you ok, Annie/ Annie, are you ok?/So, Annie are you ok/Are you ok, Annie/ Annie, are you ok?” There is no answer. Michael is no more to give us that answer. Silence of death engulfed him long ago. Life is a long hyphen between two long silences.

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manmohan singh
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rajiv gandhi
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