Deconstructing Narendra Modi’s first message to the nation as PM

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My dear fellow Indians and citizens of the world,

(His expansive body language has percolated into his writing as well- all through campaigning he had his arms stretched out, occupying maximum physical space, the body language clearly indicative of an aggressive personality. The Honourable PM is making his intentions clear- India is not his only playground- he wants a say in shaping the world’s decisions as well)

Namaste!

A very warm welcome to the official website of the Prime Minister of India.

(Finally!  Narendra Modi gets to say this. This is a massive triumph of his vision. He wants to savour and record this moment for posterity- also a lot like pinching himself- it has happened and it is for real- also sending out a strong signal to those who may have doubted his capacity to become PM)

On 16th May 2014 the people of India gave their verdict. (not mandate, not support, but verdict. He likes to use terms that symbolize finality- the PM has little taste for ambiguity).

They delivered a mandate for development, good governance and stability. As we devote ourselves to take India’s development journey to newer heights, we seek your support, blessings and active participation. (this has been the most admirable part of his campaign- he has focused on good governance and not on caste or religion.)

Together we will script a glorious future for India. Let us together dream of a strong, developed and inclusive India that actively engages with the global community to strengthen the cause of world peace and development. (The presence of neighbouring heads of state, the repeated reference to a global role in a small 186 word message to the country, is very telling- the full scope of his ambition, as he sees it, is not realized yet.)

I envision this website as a very important medium of direct communication between us. (When it comes to vision and responsibility, he uses the collective pronoun ‘we’. When it comes to action and communication he uses the personal pronoun ‘I’. Marshall Goldsmith’s bestseller ‘what got you here, won’t even get you there’ comes to mind. Inclusiveness has to flow more naturally in his communication. )

 I am a firm believer in the power of technology and social media to communicate with people across the world. I hope this platform creates opportunities to listen, learn and share one’s views. (This could be interpreted as seeking direct feedback- not relying on people to relay feedback to him- but wanting a channel that will automatically put checks and balances in place- he gives away that hes a sworn soloist in many ways)

Through this website you will also get all the latest information about my speeches, schedules, foreign visits and lot more. (No mention of policy, legislation and reform. Totally out of sync with the implementer image that he has worked so hard to build! Speeches, schedules and foreign visits is very uni-directional, superficial coming from him. I will tell you what Im doing, as opposed to let us work together in the earlier part of the speech)

I will also keep informing you about innovative initiatives undertaken by the Government of India. (Here, he should have said, either “my office” or “my team”. Again a reluctance to project team when needed. The soloist performs and enthralls!)

Yours, 

Narendra Modi 
(Very simple sign off. No symbolism. No affected humility or deliberate ritualism. And finally acceptance that the chair is indeed his!)

 

 

Of what use would speech be, without the anatomy to hear?

SPEECH-HEARING

I’ve already shared this as a response to a comment on my blog.  However, some more thoughts came my way in person, notably Mr.Vithal Nadkarni, a mentor, whose vast breadth of reading I someday hope to match at least by half.

There’s very little of original thought on this blog. Maybe less than 10%. It’s a tribute to the work of many greats, who persevered to discover the beauty of how human beings started to speak. It’s also a simpler place for students to make sense of the evolutionary miracle that we are.

Speech could not have existed without hearing. I think this is very basic.

Equally basic is the assumption, that in all evolution form precedes function eg- birds had feathers for millions of years before they realized that they were meant for flight.

It is therefore safe to assume that by the time the cultural setting for language began to be expressed, the structures that permit speech had already been in place for a long time – at least since the emergence prior to 150,000 years ago of Homo sapiens as an anatomical entity.

By logic, the faculty of hearing had to be developed before this- some scholars have suggested that the development of the human ear enabled it to pick up human speech better than the chimpanzee ear. This appears to have happened by 350,000 years ago, according to fossils of human remains found in northern Spain.

Interestingly, after the emergence of homo sapiens, they drove all other ‘homo’ species to extinction. This was about 50000 years ago. The most evolved species before us, the Neanderthals who flourished between 300,000 – 28,000 had relatively advanced communication abilities, but evidence suggests that they may have had a limited vocal range compared to modern humans. They are credited with fine stone art and invention of burials.
Homo sapiens first emerged 150000 yrs  ago, and by 50000 years ago, were the only surviving species. Something drastic happened. One big documented change is climate- but  responding to adversity as group demanded coordination. Language is one of the biggest tools to enable coordination. Home sapiens surely developed the ability for language, which was their biggest competitive advantage in survival.

By then the FOXP2 gene, and the other physical features associated with spoken language, such as the vocal tract, the structure of the brain and the size of the spinal cord, were already in place. It is difficult to put a date to the appearance of the human larynx (paleontologists say thus, because there are no bones just muscle and cartilage associated with the larynx- also called voice box). The vocal cords themselves are no more than infoldings of the larynx. They vibrate, like the strings of a violin, to produce a huge range of sounds in modern humans)

The above, placed in context with the 90,000 year-old double burial from Jebel Qafzeh, Israel (one of the earliest that shows careful placement of the deceased)indicating complex constructs around the ritual of burial that were communicated within a community in some way- suggest that modern speech (as opposed to sound)  is young- and emerged between 90000 and 40000 years ago.

Are Public Relations Professionals extra organisational ethicists?

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Public relations today has evolved from a “monologic process” to a into a “dialogic process”

What this means is that as a public relations professional, neither are you the only source of information, nor are you the only source of opinion. Both information and opinion are formed independently, based on multifarious inputs.

Your duty is to be available, whether the media request is pro-active or reactive. Prolonged association can convert this spokesperson into an extra-organizational ethicist, who puts in perspective the activities of the organization, in the context of the society that we live in;

Dialogic process implies a willingness to “continue the conversation”— whether the subject being discussed is risky or not. The idea is not to sway the other with the strength of one’s erudition, but as a means of understanding the journalists position and reaching a consensus position.