Does bowing down to people have a place in liberal, secular democracies?

Today, I saw the Tibetan exile Leader Lobsang Sangay walking near the Tibetan Parliament building in Dharamsala. Wearing his trademark sunglasses and chuba, I noticed how Tibetans near me leapt to their feet and bowed in a show of respect. Whereas the non-Tibetans remained seated. Not out of any disrespect, more out of a) not knowing who he was or b) coming from a culture where politicians are not bowed down to. I joked to a Tibetan next to me, if that had been David Cameron, the British Prime Minister, I doubt any British person would have got to their feet and bowed like that. That in most secular democracies, the general view is that as we have voted this person into this position of power and influence, we are their ‘boss’ and therefore, they should be bowing and scraping to us, the general public, on whom their very job and position relies!

As for the tradition of bowing to the British Queen……an archaic relic of feudalism, privilege and oligarchy. We are all born equal after all, or is it as Orwell said: ‘Some are more equal than others’?


Perhaps more politicians and businessmen should follow the example of these Korean politicians, including their Leader Park Gi-chun, who gathered in Seoul last year to apologize to voters by bowing three times. Whether or not it was genuine, it certainly brings a temporary smile (or ass) to the face…..


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