That’s charm­ing

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - LIVING - By AB­HAYA SRI­VAS­TAVA

In­dian politi­cians at­tend fin­ish­ing school to help boost their voter ap­peal.

AT the prompt­ing of Pria War­rick, her class of as­pir­ing politi­cians open their arms wide and press their palms to­gether over their heads – milk­ing the cheers of an imag­i­nary crowd of sup­port­ers.

“This gesture con­veys you want to em­brace the masses as one of your own,” ex­plained War­rick, who runs the Pria War­rick Fin­ish­ing School in In­dia’s cap­i­tal New Delhi.

Orig­i­nally tar­geted at new­ly­weds and the wives of busi­ness­men who are ea­ger to im­prove their so­cial and hostess­ing skills, the school has re­cently be­come a pop­u­lar re­source for politi­cians want­ing to beef up their voter ap­peal.

“We’ve been hav­ing a lot of peo­ple from var­i­ous po­lit­i­cal par­ties com­ing here,” said War­rick.

“They don’t know how much dif­fer­ence a re­cep­tive body lan­guage can make. But they are keen to change.”

Ac­cord­ing to War­rick, very few In­dian politi­cians em­ploy im­age con­sul­tants and most rely on ad­vice from civil ser­vants who are “very in­tel­li­gent but have no idea about pro­fes­sional eti­quette”.

In their class, the stu­dents role play to ex­plore how they might be­have in dif­fer­ent sit­u­a­tions on the cam­paign trail, whether vis­it­ing an in­flu­en­tial sup­porter or an im­pov­er­ished farmer.

“Some of them feel they lack the spon­tane­ity to an­swer ques­tions,” said War­rick, who learned her trade at a clas­sic Swiss fin­ish­ing school be­fore set­ting up shop in In­dia.

“We teach them how to evade an un­com­fort­able ques­tion, how to be firm in their replies and yet ap­pear friendly.”

Yawn­ing, burp­ing and scratch­ing the nose are three strict nonos in War­rick’s guide book for the po­lit­i­cal class.

“You must be ul­tra-care­ful be­cause any ac­tion will be seen as re­flect­ing your ac­tual thought process,” she said.

War­rick is pro­tec­tive of her po­lit­i­cal stu­dents, re­fus­ing to di­vulge any of their names and not al­low­ing them to be ques­tioned di­rectly.

A se­ries of state elec­tions has swollen in­take for the spe­cial­ist classes, but the main busi­ness of the school re­mains firmly based in its orig­i­nal al­most ex­clu­sively fe­male, clien­tele look­ing to pol­ish their so­cial skills.

Rapid eco­nomic ex­pan­sion, an in­creas­ingly up­wardly-mo­bile mid­dle class and the grow­ing num­ber of In­di­ans tak­ing up over­seas posts with large multi­na­tional firms, have all fu­elled a de­mand for War­rick’s ex­per­tise.

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