An attempt to know, understand (and ultimately, transform) that which occurs on the fields of play - India (her politics, media, music) and beyond ...

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Leading Questions: An illustration from R. Krithika of The Hindu

First, let us see what is meant by "leading questions". ChangingMinds.org has an excellent description of "leading questions" and provides several examples.

One way of influencing a person is to ask them questions that are deliberately designed to make them think in a certain way. Leading questions either include the answer, point the listener in the right direction or include some form or carrot or stick to send them to the 'right' answer.

Ask for agreement
A very direct leading question is where they are closed questions that clearly ask for agreement, making it easier for the other person to say 'yes' than 'no'.
"Do you agree that we need to save the whales?"
"Is it true that you are happier now?"

Let us now see this how these were put to use by R. Krithika in a perfectly asinine "e-mail interview" published in The Hindu Sunday supplement on Dec. 25 (An unusual epic).

Sample questions from the interview:

  • Your introduction says you chose the Mahabharata because it was "evil". What is your definition of evil?
  • Despite Draupadi's fearlessness in voicing her opinion, would you agree that she was actually oppressed ...
  • Krishna is, as you have said, a very complex character. Would you agree that he is perhaps the most open character in the entire epic; that he does what he has to?
  • Do you agree that the Mahabharata was an internal family feud and that the epic's current form was not the work of one man?

Please read the interview. Although faced with such pathetic questions, Samhita Arni doesn't fall into the trap but provides quite reasoned and mature responses overall. An example follows:

There are no hard and fast classifications of good and bad in the Mahabharata. Comment.

That's what makes the epic come alive for me. It resembles reality in the murkiness of the decisions and choices that the characters have to make, and the complexity of cause and effect.


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