Franklin Roosevelt’s inaugural speech

Although many have compared the current recession caused by unregulated trading of credit (and it’s many derivatives) with the Great Depression of the 1930’s it is only an insincere soul who would in fact believe it. We are in a much better position in terms of food security, healthcare, access to information and all other essential services, etc. Even during this recession most Americans are still living a luxurious life compared to the rest of the world. It’s almost impossible for anybody living outside of US to summon any pity for folks who chose to dig and delve in an ever deeper credit hole. It’s probably not fair to use the word chose in this context. After all, it was the market created by the banking industry who connived effectively under the Federal government’s eyes-only-for-homeland-security to create this economic morass. Nonetheless, the comparison of our current times to the Great Depression years seems juvenile.

A recession does not only mean a loss in earning potential, loss in opportunities or even a drastic reduction in one’s standard of living, back then it also meant a very real threat of loosing one’s life, one’s family and access to even the very essential of human necessities. Large families were forced to split and fend individually. Families migrated in hordes to different pastures, fuelled only by hope. Loosing a dear one to illness was a real and present threat. With a feeble social safety net to speak of, the falling had little hopes.

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Bal Gangadhar Tilak on nationalism and patriotism

Bal Gangadhar Tilak was perhaps the first among equals when it came to defining Indian nationalism. The concept of nationhood never existed prior to British rule in India. The challenges faced in uniting disparate regions for this cause that was alien to most commoners was expertly handled by Tilak. The effectiveness of this idea, planted using his incisive speeches is there for all to see. Modern Indian patriotism is a distinct offspring of Tilak’s efforts. Even though other greats like Swami Vivekananda, Mahatma Gandhi and Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore have all extolled the virtues of universalism it is Tilak’s idea that has taken root in popular culture.

In this particular speech, Tilak explains the change in responsibilities of the common man in adapting to altering circumstances. The unification of various regions by British for easier administration, he suggests, should be accepted as a part of changing history. The subjects of this new empire has newer responsibilities. A broader perspective must be developed by each in order to fulfill their purpose in society. He urged folks to think beyond their regions, something that was never needed before as their rulers were the ones brokering alliances and allegiances.

As is his style, the language is quite candid in places. It is also flavoured with a brand of sarcasm that is typical of a Punekari as is evident in the following section:

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Rajiv Gandhi Speaks Against Nuclear Weapons – Part II

In the second part of this speech, Rajiv Gandhi Speaks Against Nuclear Weapons, Shri. Rajiv Gandhi presses home the point of the futility of nuclear arms race. He outlines a process, which if adopted by the U.N. and the masses, would bring about complete elimination of nuclear arms from the face of this earth by 2010.

Alas, it is as much a reflection of the lack of leadership as it is about the dearth of a universal platform for masses to organize, that the race has only intensified by new entrants seeking to secure this invaluable diplomatic bargaining chip. India and Pakistan having already underlined their philosophy by the tit-for-tat tests in late 90’s it’s now the turn of Iran (to be clear Iran’s claim has always been it’s pursuit of nuclear technology for power generation) and North Korea.

Rajiv Gandhi
Shri. Rajiv Gandhi

This section of the speech is dry on emotions and full in procedural outlines. The need to hold an audience’s attention during such sections is a critical challenged faced by speechwriters, especially in speeches with such an ambitious objective. Shri. Rajiv Gandhi’s effort is satisfactory in this regard.

In this part of the speech Niels Bohr, Gandhi and Nehru’s quotes make an appearance. It ends poignantly, relying on a quote from Dhammapada.

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Rajiv Gandhi Speaks Against Nuclear Weapons

This is yet another pearl of a speech delivered by India’s Prime Minester, Shri. Rajiv Gandhi. It was addressed to the United Nations General Assembly session on June 9, 1998. This speech delivers comprehensively in setting a matter of immense gravity in the right tone before an audience of dignitaries. It is effective in painting the grim forecast of repercussions caused by our action… as well as our inaction. It succeeds in setting the stage for the crux of his speech with the imagery it creates using words like:

\"Nuclear war will not mean the death of a hundred million people. Or even a thousand million. It will mean the extinction of four thousand million: the end of life as we know it on our planet Earth”

“Astronomical sums are being invested in ways of dealing with death”

“…that everyone can be saved by ensuring that in the event of conflict, everyone will surely die."

This speech also manages to succinctly describe the state of human affairs at the time:

\"It is true that in the past four decades, parts of the world have experienced an absence of war. But a mere absence of war is not a durable peace.”

“Peace which rests on the search for a parity of power is a precarious peace.”

“Deterrence needs an enemy, even if one has to be invented."

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