Our Parliament and State Assemblies are the temples of Indian democracy. But the behaviour of some people's representatives makes us wonder which way things are going. Last month itself, MLAs in J&K Assembly came to blows while their counterparts in Telanga Assembly fought pitched battles. In Kerala Assembly, MLAs smashed computers and threw chairs and water bottles to prevent the State Fince Minister from tabling the budget. Last year an MP from Seemandhra used pepper spray in the Lok Sabha to prevent a debate on creation of Telanga. Recently a video has gone viral, showing a Delhi college lecturer thrashing his female colleague in the campus after an argument. These and many other unruly scenes shown on TV and social media raises the question — what has happened to good manners and etiquette in public life? There was a time when social graces were taught at home and school — respect to elders, common courtesies to others, sensitivity to the surroundings, taking care over one’s appearance, dealing with visitors or strangers and visiting others on different social occasions. Cynics now say that in today’s fast-paced world of technological innovation and casual lifestyles, it is difficult to give quality time even to near and dear ones. So who can afford to be polite and considerate to others in the indecent haste to somehow get ahead? But a little reflection will show that this argument does not hold true. Candidates for prestigious public service posts go through crash courses on creating a good impression on interviewers. Aspirants seeking jobs in the service sector are rigorously trained to be polite and caring to clients, because the ‘Customer is King’. So it makes professiol and business sense to have social graces. The idea is that Intelligence Quotient (IQ) may be necessary to land a job, but the candidate will need Emotiol Quotient (EQ) to hold down the job. After all, it is the ‘emotiol intelligence’ of a person which helps in getting along with superiors and colleagues in the workplace. However, we may need to look at societies like Japan, South Korea and Vietm, where youngsters are taught social graces in the overall framework of maintaining their rich traditions. In these societies, each generation learns that good manners impart discipline and sense of responsibility, while giving the confidence to handle any social situation. It is this knowledge that guarantees success in life, for man after all, is a social animal.
Food for thought