Not bad, can do better

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By The Telegraph Online
  • Published 31.01.14
Mamata Banerjee on Thursday led a mass tribute to martyrs, saluting for a minute at the Brigade rally that coincided with Mahatma Gandhi’s death anniversary that is observed as the national Martyrs’ Day. The chief minister asked those on the dais, who included a fair line-up of Tollywood stars, to stand up and salute along with her, and the lakhs seated on the ground to fold their hands in a namaskar. The salute was marked by a rendition of Tagore’s “Banglar mati, Banglar jol, Banglar bayu, Banglar phol, punyo houk, punyo houk, punyo houk, hey Bhagaban (May the earth, water, air and fruits of Bengal be blessed, O Lord)” by Nachiketa, Indranil Sen and Shantanu Roychowdhury. Picture by Amit Datta


Since this is the season of salutes — the Republic Day is less than a week old — perhaps a closer look at the universal gesture is called for.

First, the ground rule. It is the thought that counts, not the style. There is no uniform
style for a salute. An army soldier will salute with the palm outwards while a navy sailor will do so with the palm turned inwards to hide the grease and scars caused by handling ropes and other maritime materials.

But dreaded parade martinets recommend general guidelines that help maintain the
gravity of the moment.

Posture: Be ramrod straight. Mamata scores high on this count. The left hand
tauter and closer to the body would have made it perfect.


Palm: The fingers, the fingers, fingers — the soul of the salute lies there. Clasp them tight and don’t ease up. Mamata’s little finger looks a bit out of place but the tight thumb saves the day. Not bad for a civilian.


Arm: A tricky part that lends elegance if you get it right. The arm — from the shoulder to
the elbow — should be parallel to the ground. Mamata’s arm is raised at an angle —
sufficient to make the drill sergeant demand a few push-ups on the parade ground but
passable on a civilian platform.


Head: Where you place the palm makes a big difference. Don’t take it too far beyond the temple. Certainly not to the centre of the forehead — as the chief minister did.




Those from Tollywood and elsewhere who want to perfect the salute can emulate Lt Gen. H.S. Panag, now retired. Those from show business will recognise the smart officer as actress Gul Panag’s father.





Communists, including former chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, usually opt for the clenched-fist salute, capturing revolutionary fury and the intent to smash to smithereens imaginary and real enemies.





The salute does not make a leader. Remember Pervez Musharraf, the general once known for his snappy salute and later for a salute-cum-aadab gesture? Accused of treason, Musharraf was in the news on Thursday: for seeking permission to travel outside Pakistan for medical treatment.




It must come — appropriately — from a former IPS officer. After paying tribute to Mahatma Gandhi at Gandhi Ghat in Barrackpore, governor M.K. Narayanan said in response to a question:“I am sad that no state minister is present at this programme.” Most ministers were at the Brigade in the morning but the chief secretary was at Gandhi Ghat.