28 Oct 2011

The Better Story Wins.

In writing, for us mere mortals, the quality of our stories and characters is key.

The following TED video made me wonder for how many other aspects of life this might be true.

In his 2009 talk, novelist and politician Shashi Tharoor (himself a fascinating character) looks at India's success and emerging popularity from a cultural point of view. He discusses the 'soft power' with which Indian culture, food, technology and music influences people's hearts and minds.

There's a lot of food for thought in this video. It made me wonder about the notion of world leadership, about the effect technological revolutions can have on people in different kinds and layers of society, and once again about the power of stories in our lives.

A few of my favourite passages:

'But, with this increasing awareness of India, with you and with I, and so on, with tales like Afghanistan, comes something vital in the information era, the sense that in today's world it's not the side of the bigger army that wins, it's the country that tells a better story that prevails.'
'Governments aren't very good at telling stories. But, people see a society for what it is, and that, it seems to me, is what ultimately will make a difference in today's information era'
'But, the whole point is that India is the nationalism of an idea. It's the idea of an ever-ever-land, emerging from an ancient civilization, united by a shared history, but sustained, above all, by pluralist democracy. That is a 21st-century story as well as an ancient one. And it's the nationalism of an idea that essentially says you can endure differences of caste, creed, color, culture, cuisine, custom and costume, consonant, for that matter,and still rally around a consensus. And the consensus is of a very simple principle, that in a diverse plural democracy like India you don't really have to agree on everything all the time, so long as you agree on the ground rules of how you will disagree.'
 - Shashi Tharoor, TEDIndia, Nov 2009
♥ Bookmark or share this post ♥


  1. I love what he said about soft power. I think he's very right about that. And India's story is incredible.

  2. The man is incredible. And he does speak the truth.

  3. L.G.: me too. It's a great term as well, and he's a wonderful storyteller, which helps to drive the point home. :-)

    Marsha: his life story is amazing. I've never read anything by him but I'm definitely going to. :-)

  4. 'you don't really have to agree on everything all the time, so long as you agree on the ground rules of how you will disagree.'

    Talk to me more about what you think of this, if you're so inclined..

  5. Munk: I agree. Content as well as presentation - I found him a pleasure to listen to.

    Suze: I think it's a fundamental insight in constructive conflict, be it in politics, families as well as in partner relationships. You don't need to agree all the time, but it's important that you can disagree in a way in which all parties involved give respect and feel respected themselves.

  6. Wow - I sat enthralled through his whole speech, thank you for this, K.C. If only more people stood up and spoke words of wisdom like this man. My favourite bit has to be "...you don't really have to agree on everything all the time, so long as you agree on the ground rules of how you will disagree." Oh, how I wish all world leaders would listen, learn and pratcise this philosophy!

  7. Rosemary: he's a clever man. :-)


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...