Man of Many Tongues: The very best of S.M. Krishna's speeches

by sidin in

Ever since India's venerable Foreign Minister S.M. Krishna created world history by reading out a Portuguese speech at the United Nations, I have been inundated with emails from readers all over the world. And they all want to know only one thing: Why have we not heard about this titan of verbal sleight of tongue before? Why is so little written about this Colossus of composition, Rambo of rhetoric, or even this Dara Singh of discourse?

Unfortunately it is of great contemporary sorrow that so little has been said, written, or recorded on DVDs by Richard Attenborough, about the varied, surprising and often monumental aspects of SM Krishna's many famous speeches. People are publishing books written with Sachin Tendulkar's blood! But are they publishing anything about SM Krishna's stellar history of public speaking with any of his fluids?

Não, não, mil vezes não!

This injustice must end now. I have spent the last weekend painstakingly putting together all the best speeches from SM Krishna's career. This was not an easy task. There were so many speeches, given in so many places in so many different languages. Yet, in order to save time, and point you in the right direction, I have summarized the best five. I am hoping, through this exercise, to show the whole world that India's foreign minster is not a man who is afraid of blunders, but he is a man who will walk right up to a blunder, look at it in the face and then express India's extreme disapproval in the form of a strongly worded letter in triplicate with notarization and passport copy.

Now I present you an anthology of awesome. Enjoy, my fellow patriots!

Speech 1

Time and place: November 19, 1863; Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.

Summary: At a crucial moment in the American Civil War, just after the Union armies defeated the confederates, Abraham Lincoln attended a function to dedicate a cemetery for soldiers who died at the battlefield. In the afternoon president Lincoln was scheduled to say a few closing words towards the end of the ceremony. Krishna, of course, was meant to sing a native Indian prayer song. However owing to an unforeseen technical problem due to delay in incoming flight Krishna got his schedule wrong. Just as Lincoln was about to speak, Krishna stood up and read with great passion and intensity from Lincoln's notes. This speech has been recorded as one of the most prominent in American and world history.

Fun fact: The speech includes the immortal lines: "Government of the people, by the people, for the people, based out of Bangalore".

Language of delivery: Shorthand

Speech 2

Time and place: September 3, 1939; Buckingham Palace, London

Summary: This magnificent exhibition of rhetoric, emotion and humanity came at a time when Europe stood at the brink of one of the most horrible periods in human history. Subsequent to the Nazi invasions of Europe, the United Kingdom declared war on Hitler's machine of terror and death. King George VI was then asked to speak to his people to give them strength, resolve and direction. Unfortunately the king, played by Colin Firth, had a tremendous stammer that rendered him incapable of prolonged public speech. Unable to bear the sight of the struggling king, SM Krishna grabbed the speech notes from the King's hand, raced down the halls of Buckingham Palace, and locked himself inside the BBC studio. He then proceeded to deliver a speech that galvanized the British empire and hastened the Germans to their downfall once the Americans joined and brought nuclear weapons.

Fun fact: In the critically acclaimed recent period film that retells these historic events, Yamla Paagal Deewana, the role of SM Krishna was played by Govinda. This role was later cut due to size constraints.

Language of delivery: German

Speech 3

Time and place: August 28, 1963; Washington

Summary: This 17-minute long speech is a defining moment in the history of the American Civil Rights Movement. Delivered from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial to a crowd of 200,000 civil rights supporters, the speech ranks amongst greatest ever in modern history. Martin Luther King Jr. stepped up to the microphone and then began speaking. Unknown to the crowd, however, was the fact that the microphones had been wired erroneously that day. Backstage SM Krishna had been practising his own speech on civil rights and freedom. However  the audio visual contractor--Pradeep Light And Sound, NOIDA--hooked Krishna's mic to the speakers by mistake. Tragically to this day Martin Luther King Jr still takes credit for that inspiring piece of rhetoric.

Fun fact: One of Krishna's favourite lines from this speech is: "I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: 'If you come today, its too early. If you come tomorrow, its too late. Tick tick tick tick tick tick (repeat x 2).'"

Language of delivery: Klingon

Speech 4

Time and place: 10 November 1942; London

Summary: After having well prepared the British Empire for war against the Nazi hordes with his inspirational King's Speech in 1939, SMK--or Smack Daddy as he is known in diplomatic circle--was also instrumental in crafting a great speech later in the war when the tide began to turn. While many people attribute this speech to Winston Churchill, who did actually give it, it was originally composed by Krishna during Churchill's secret state visit to Bangalore in October 1942. After Churchill disembarked at Bangalore International Airport he was received by Krishna who offered to drive Churchill to his hotel in the city. Within minutes of leaving the airport their car was stuck in traffic for two hours. Churchill asked Krishna how long the jam would last for. Krishna made history with his subsequent reply: "Oh Winsty, this is not the end of the jam. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.Unless we take this route through Hosur in which case it could be the beginning of the middle part of the end. Or in any case the middle end of the start center."

Fun fact: Churchill is currently somewhere near Electronic City.

Language of delivery: Braille

Speech 5

Time and place: 4 July 200?; Nevada

Summary:  Just thinking of this incident makes my eyes well up with tears. As you may recall aliens from an unknown planet had all but destroyed the world's armed forces. And reduced many of our cities to rubble. Massive alien spaceships, played by Govinda, hovered over the earth, while advanced alien fighter craft sought and destroyed life. World governments had all but given up hope. No one knew what to do about these aliens except the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena who beat up taxi drivers. This did not work. Then they tried again in Worli. Again it did not work. Then they went to Mahesh Lunch Home and after that they went home. Finally it was left to a bedraggled group of international jet fighter pilots to launch a last-minute desperate attack. They would attack a mothership and then infect the onboard computer system-- Finacle by Infosys--with a virus. As the representative of the world's most powerful software developer industry SM Krishna was invited to give vote of thanks. This is when he said those inspirational words that will live as long as mankind will:

"Mankind -- that word should have new meaning for all of us today. We can't be consumed by our petty differences anymore. We will be united in our common interests. Perhaps its fate that today is the 4th of July, and you will once again be fighting for our freedom, not from tyranny, oppression, or persecution -- but from Tamil Nadu."

Fun fact: Above mentioned speech was delivered on a tank with a megaphone in...

Language of delivery: Cobol


P.S. I am currently working on an online anthology of SMK's written and spoken works. Please leave contact details below to be informed when the repository is live.