Life starts with everyone clapping

Sudhirendar SharmaThe pun in his remark got me clapping involuntarily. Wonder, how else could anyone react to famous rapper and Grammy winner Jay-Z holding former US President Bill Clinton as the ultimate rock star, “people clap in a restaurant when he finishes dinner.” And, he didn’t stop at just that and added “I don’t get that treatment. I get it when I walk onstage, but not when I have dinner.” There is not much to read into it other than the fact that anything that induces clapping should be worth a cause. And, I mean it! I say so because I find clapping doing more than what it may have been known for. You find people clapping in the park; yoga teachers induce clapping as an essential step; and acupressure technique counts on clapping to trigger a healthy body response. As old as human existence, clapping both hands is more than what we might ever consider it to be. It is clearly more than a standard civic gesture to attract attention; to celebrate success; and to express admiration – as a sign of approval.
Clapping gives an adrenaline boost to the one who gets the cheers, be it enforced at a political rally or voluntary during a public performance. Any which way, the reaction of the public plays a very important role. But it works the other way round too! Don’t you recall deliberate clapping that has been often pressed to pull down a bad speaker or woo a poor performance – as an act of disapproval, Both ways, it holds immense value as a distinct means of communication that is race and creed neutral.


It goes beyond, and my sense is that it is the musical aspect of clapping that has often been underrated. Be it classical or western music, clapping has been tried as an interesting musical interlude. While it is somewhat organic to qawali, in other genre it has emerged as a creative aspect that few music composers have been able to master with finesse. Who can forget several such compositions by noted musician O P Nayyar who had turned clapping as his signature tune for numerous film songs from the 50’s through 70’s.
Clapping is after all the most common sound that we, as humans, have been using without our voice chords. Need it be said that clapping with hands is the first act that all of us have learnt as a child, with our parents encouraging us to persist with it during our formative years. However, it is only in later years that we become conservative in the use of clapping as a social gesture. Don’t we? No wonder, we now find claquers filling the gaps in radio programs and television shows. Why clap when one could be paid to do so?
It is time clapping gets the place it deserves, as a means of self-amplification for a healthy existence. Let us learn from the eunuchs for whom their signature clapping has worked both ways. If nothing, it has helped them to stay fit. Have you ever seen a transgender with a weak eyesight, if I may ask!
Posted by Green Beacon at 3:49 AM
(Sudhirendar Sharma is a writer on development issues based in New Delhi, India)