Batting for more humour and satire in daily life, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday termed humour as the “best healer” and said the power of a smile or laughter is more powerful than abuse or any other weapon.
Addressing the 47th anniversary of Tamil magazine Thuglaq, founded by the late Cho S Ramaswamy, Modi particularly referred to the noted journalist’s ability for satire and humour and called for more of this in daily life. “I think we need more satire and humour. Humour brings happiness in our lives. Humour is the best healer. The power of a smile or the power of laughter is more than the power of abuse or any other weapon,” he said.
“Humour builds bridges instead of breaking them… And this is exactly what we require today. Building bridges, bridges between people, bridges between communities, bridges between societies,” the Prime Minister said through video conferencing from New Delhi. Heaping encomiums on his “friend” Ramaswamy, Modi said the actor-journalist had mastered the art of satire and humour and he was adept at communicating through a sentence or a cartoon.
He recalled a particular cartoon Ramaswamy had done of him and said it was “apt” to the current situation. “This reminds me a cartoon of Cho wherein people are targeting me with their guns and the common people are standing in front of me. Cho asks who is the real target, me or the common people? How apt is the cartoon in today’s context,” he said without referring to any incident.
Modi also did not elaborate.
The Prime Minister has, however, been receiving flak from opposition parties, including Congress and TMC, besides the Left, over his demonetisation move, saying it had affected the common man though it was rolled out with the objectives of addressing black money, fake notes and terror funding issues. The Prime Minister said humour brings out “human creativity”.
“We are living in an age where one speech or one event can create multiple memes,” he said.
The Prime Minister paid rich tributes to Ramaswamy,considered close to Modi since his early days as the Gujarat Chief Minister. Modi, who greeted the audience in Tamil at the start of his address, besides extending his Pongal wishes in the same language, said Ramaswamy was one of the best multi-faceted personalities he had ever come across and hailed his role as a journalist, an actor, a lawyer and a political commentator, among others. Though he donned many hats, Ramaswamy’s role as the Editor of Thuglaq was the “jewel in his crown,” he said.
It was not very easy to understand Ramaswamy and to do this, one had to understand his courage, conviction and sense of nationalism, “which went beyond parochial wisdom, linguistic and other divisions,” the Prime Minister said. He said even bitter critics of Ramaswamy found equal prominence in Thuglaq magazine even as he made the magazine “a weapon against all divisive forces.”
“He was fighting for a clean and non-corrupt political system and in that struggle he never spared anyone. He was critical of those people with whom he had acted for decades, critical of those people who were friends with him for decades and critical of those who considered him a mentor. None was spared. He did not look at the personalities, but at the issues,” Modi said.
Ramaswamy’s satire made him lovable even to those whom he criticised and that was not a cultivated or cultivable virtue, but a “gift from the divine” which Ramaswamy used only to promote public interest, the Prime Minister said. “Even those who criticised him were given the same prominence like that of Cho in Thuglaq. This is the truest democratic spirit in media and in public life. His thoughts and contributions are not limited to Tamil milieu and Tamil people.
He inspired many generations of aspiring journalists and politicians spanning many cities in India. Thuglaq was not a mere political commentary but ears and eyes of millions of Tamil people,” he said.He also said Ramaswamy had once asked someone throwing eggs at him why he was hurling raw eggs and that he could instead make him an omelet.He termed Ramaswamy’s passing away last month as a “personal loss” and said he knew the veteran political analyst for many years. He also recalled that he had participated in a past Thuglaq anniversary function here.
Modi said festivals such as Pongal, Makar Sankranti, Lohri and Bihu were being celebrated in different parts of the country and hailed the harmony such festivals bring.