Sunday, June 10, 2012

Have you heard Charlie Chaplin?

             An appeal for silent talking

The answer to this title is a unanimous “No”. Isn’t he one of the greatest entertainers of all time? The answer is an equally resounding”Yes!”
Does this not strike you as absurd? If you have not heard someone, how do you know what he stands for, what his achievements are or his ideals? In an age of obsessive Facebooking and Twittering, silence is foolish. Silence, for the lack of a better word, is bad.
And yet, actions do speak louder than words. After flirting with bankruptcy in ’90-’91, India opened up to trade, overseas investments and basically got off the backs of people. The subsequent lifting of millions from the tragedy of poverty is an unsurpassed feat.  Years ago, most references to China would end with a funny intonation in Chinese, or some such similar cliché. The Chinaman is now no laughing matter. The singular focus of the Chinese masses has made them a force to reckon with.
In each of these instances people stopped talking and did something. I put a thesis here that doing is not any different from talking-it is another form of expression. A far more potent expression because it displays intent, sets an example and seizes the initiative, hence forcing a reactive response.
Doing is silent talking.
India is the Saudi Arabia of armchair analysts. The argumentative Indian has moved on from being an expression of exasperation into becoming a book title. Everyone agrees that we love talking. MBA lore is filled with references to it – “global gas”,”gyaan”,”CP”, “arbit CP” and what have you. Perhaps we owe it to a rich tradition of oral education – our gurukulas. Or the fact that we are a nation of many, many beautiful languages each with its own treasures of grammar, poetry, prose and history. In this age of rambling (and loud) conference calls, copious meeting minutes and ping-pong e-mail, Indians perhaps actually play a critical role in the global forum with all our talking?
The doers don’t mind. They are busy building the future and content to let others spend their lives talking about it. They are the Caesars, while we remain the baying masses in the Coliseum of Life.
Unless we understand the art of silent talking. And then, nobody can stop us.