Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Swiss Democracy

The swiss are good at many things such as cheese, chocolates, watches, tourism and Roger Federer (pictured for tennis fans out there!). As I spend time in Switzerland on a business trip -well more like 'away from business' trip!– one oversighted aspect struck me which is Swiss democracy. Can you think of the name of the Swiss president (if there is one) or prime minister or any politician for that matter? Probably not. Neither can the Swiss. This is true democracy; power to the people while politicians remain nameless.

Take this story: a fellow arrives at the airport and asks the Swiss taxi driver to take him to the hotel. On the way he tries to make conversation with the driver. He asks about politics, the economy, and other issues. The driver did not know much and remained focused on the road. So the fellow having failed at the attempt to start a conversation started admiring the cleanliness of the car and driver until he arrived to his destination on time. Then it struck him: just few days ago he was on a trip to an Arab country. He remembered the bad shape the taxi he took there was in and the driver who was smoking endlessly. The driver talked endlessly too: from politics to economy to you name it.. he knew it all. While the Arab driver was busy smoking and talking he lost his way and our fellow arrived late to his destination! This is the difference between them and us: we know it all except where it matters which is knowing what we do and being good at it.  


Grey said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Grey said...

Edit : I hate Kuwait cabbies ! Specially if they are from Hindi subcontinent ! They know even the top secret of white house !it's a torture to sit in a cab and not be able to shut the cabby up !

Bu Ziyad said...

wolf: i can imagine!

eshda3wa said...

knowing wat we do and being good at it..

we fail at that cz its never the right person for the right job

its the son of this or uncle of that

never ur brain always ur name

Bu Ziyad said...

eshda3wa: sadly true..

rubicon said...

one of the better posts around i say. i had actually known that the swiss dont know their president/PM/etc for quite a while but it helps to bring this to attention as a reminder to people of how some political systems can function quite seamlessly.

i wonder, though, why its just the swiss that have this blissful setup given that they are a group of cantons with different ethnic origins (german, italian, french).

they must have another shared identity and that would probably be their calvinist tradition.

do you know why the swiss are good at making timepieces? its because john calvin (16th century protestant) called for them to do something useful with their time - so they made timepieces of exquisite quality and accuracy to keep that time and not squander it.

they are _indeed_ a very interesting society.