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HindustanTimes Fri,22 Aug 2014

The minister who knows his onions

Neela Sood, Hindustan Times   October 28, 2013
First Published: 09:37 IST(28/10/2013) | Last Updated: 09:39 IST(28/10/2013)

On Saturday morning, as a matter of routine, we were taking a look at Hindustan Times, when the report "Onion prices to fall in 10 days" angered my husband over the claims of food minister KV Thomas.

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"These funny ministers," he said, "for the past four months, they are saying the onion prices will drop but instead these have moved further up." "No use condemning them," I said. "If you are in their place, you would do the same. Have you not read in our scriptures that the truth that hurts others should not be spoken?"

I had put my perspective. "It is difficult to argue with women, and especially with wife," my husband said, and left the argument. I know for sure it's not the intent of the PM or the food minister to fool people. Are they wrong in assessment? I don't think they are so naive either. Rather, they have the worldly wisdom to keep the masses hopeful instead of filling them with despair.

American poet Emily Dickinson wrote that: "Hope is the thing with feathers/ That perches in the soul/ And sings the tune without the words/ And never stops/ at all..." Napoleon once remarked that even if you lost everything but not hope, you could change defeat into victory.

I read a small story about a Brahmin who was implicated falsely by his foes and awarded capital punishment. He was the one to not lose hope even in the worst of situations. On the appointed day, when the sentence was to be executed, he was asked about his last wish. He looked towards the king and said: "I wish I could teach his excellency's horse to fly before leaving this world." It did the trick. The king, keen to see his horse acquiring an unheard of skill, gave the Brahmin a year's reprieve.

Relieved, when he reached home and narrated the story to his wife, she had mixed feelings. "My dear," she said, "I am very happy that you got the reprieve but am worried how you'll accomplish what seems to be impossible." Amused, the Brahmin replied: "You are right sweetheart, but anything that generates hope for the future should be done. A year is a long period, in which much can happen. The king might change or die, and even who knows, the horse might start flying."

My experience tells me the onion price is not going to fall drastically soon, but still if statements such as the one from the food minister generate hope in people, nothing wrong in it. Good leaders are those who keep people hopeful.

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