Important lessons from Modi Moment


I watched the oath-taking ceremony on Doo Darshan news. I was impressed by this simple secular ceremony. It had a couple of lessons for us and our President who had a front row seat. Perhaps some readers of the newspaper may not agree with me. Nevertheless here are my impressions which I consider worth following by Sri Lankans.

First, the ceremony began on time at six pm with the opening of the door of the Indian President’s room. There were no delays. All invitees arrived before the scheduled time. Our President arrived ten minutes before six and took his allotted seat after greeting some of the VIPs sitting next to him. This is a big lesson for us Sri Lankans where punctuality is never observed no matter the gravity of the ceremony.

The words of the oath were simple. The oath did invoke God. I suppose that Modi as well as the many ministers being, believers in a Supreme Being this was acceptable to them all. Otherwise the rest of the oath was mundane and down to earth. There was no prolonged meaningless verbiage. I am sure all the Indians understood the promises made in public by the Ministers. This gesture carries its own gravitas which the oath-taker would not easily violate. Publicly swearing in is impracticable in our case as we have nearly one hundred ministers. This is a lesson for our President to ponder over.

There were clergymen among the invitees. They did not intrude into the ceremony in any way. They remained as witnesses like the laymen to the oath taken by the ministers. Contrast this with our ceremonies most of which are almost completely imbued with religious observances utterly irrelevant and sometimes completely out-of-place for the occasion. We may need religion in our private lives and invoking the gods should be also a private affair. Where religion needs to be brought in, it should be as brief as possible without long drawn out sermons. Where ever possible secular affairs should be kept secular. Just showing off one’s religion has become a second nature to most Sri Lankans, even though most people observe their religion by default. Thus, they in fact, degrade their own religion and the clergymen who assist in these hypocritical ceremonies only become collaborators to degrade rather than promoters of their religion. Will we learn from Modi’s swearing in ceremony?

Finally, all the oath-takers were attired in sober Indian dresses. They did not wear neck-tie and jacket. This itself emphasized in its own way the dignity of the essentially an Indian ceremony. Even the well-known Salman Khan among the invitees, wore an open-neck shirt. Ostentation was positively relegated from this ceremony. We do have much to learn from this simple secular ceremony. Will we ever learn?

Durand Appuhamy


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