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Jayalalithaa named AIADMK eternal general secretary: Here are some similarly impressive titles given to leaders

On Tuesday, the AIADMK announced that J Jayalalithaa would be granted title of the party's "eternal general secretary".

The announcement came during the general council and executive committee meeting called by the E Palaniswamy-led faction after the Madras High Court on Monday dismissed a plea by an MLA owing allegiance to sidelined AIADMK deputy chief TTV Dhinakaran.

File image of J Jayalalithaa. PTI

File image of J Jayalalithaa. PTI

While J Jayalalithaa, who has been dead for 10 months, being bestowed this honour by the AIADMK seems to be a first in the history of Indian politics, those familiar with world history will recognise this as nothing new. Politicians have, from time immemorial, been attempting to bestow glory upon themselves.

By popular acclaim

In North Korea, a cult of personality has been carefully weaved around Kim Jong-un's family for decades.

Kim's grandfather, Kim Il-Sung, who passed away in 1994, is known as the 'Eternal President of the Republic'. Talk about tenure!

His father Kim Jong-Il, who clearly didn't want to be left behind, held the following impressive sounding titles: Dear Leader, Supreme Leader, Our Father, The General, Generalissimo, Hero of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and Marshal of the DPRK. We're exhausted just listing them!

Self-proclaimed greatness

When Oscar Wilde was visiting America, he reportedly told customs officials, "I have nothing to declare but my genius."

Leaders, especially dictators in third world nations, have been proudly proclaiming their genius to the heavens for years.

Kim Jong-un, perhaps the world's youngest head of State, took power in 2011 after the death of his father.

Undoubtedly wanting to continue the family tradition, he assigned the following titles to himself: Dear Respected Comrade Kim Jong-un, Chairman of the Workers’ Party of Korea, Chairman of the State Affairs Commission of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and Supreme Commander of the Korean People's Army. Guess the apple doesn't fall far from the crazy tree.

While boxer Floyd Mayweather may have only recently declared himself TBE (The Best Ever), Ugandan military dictator Idi Amin was way ahead of him. According to a report in The Guardian, Amin, perhaps a man not easily given to humility, declared himself 'CBE: Conquerer of the British Empire' (yes, really!) And that's not all; Amin also gave himself the following titles: His Excellency, President for Life, Field Marshal Al Hadji Doctor Idi Amin Dada, VC, DSO, MC, Lord of All the Beasts of the Earth and Fishes of the Seas (whew).

The VC, by the way, is not the famed British Victoria Cross but the rather less regarded 'Victorious Cross'. And yes, you guessed it, he awarded it to himself.  And while he famously offered to be the king of Scotland, the truth is that his advances were probably rebuffed by a nation of bewildered Scotsmen. Your countrymen might not miss you Idi, but... neither do we.

According to a report in The New York Times, Romanian president  Nicolae Ceausescu — who some called the ''Idi Amin of Communism' (uh-oh) — declared himself The Great Conductor, The Genius of the Carpathians and The Danube of Thought on his 71st birthday even as his countrymen starved. It truly doesn't get better than the Danube of Thought.

Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo was one of many dictators who fancied himself as God. At first, Trujillo was content to call himself 'El Jefe' (the Chief), but his ambitions seemed to get the better of him.

According to a report, Trujillo renamed his country's capital, roads, buildings, bridges and even mountains after himself. He required every license plate to say 'Viva Trujillo' and every church to feature the phrase Dios en cielo, Trujillo en tierra or God in Heaven, Trujillo on Earth. Seems like a nice, down to earth chap.

According to a BBC report, Zimbabwean dictator Robert Mugabe is referred to as thus: His Excellency, The President, Robert Gabriel Mugabe and Commander-in-Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces. However, the following list of titles is added to his prolific list at social events:  Patron of War Veterans, First Secretary of the Party and Chancellor of State Universities, Supreme Leader, First Citizen of the Nation, Professor of Diplomacy, and Honorary Black Belt. But he knows karate, so we probably shouldn't mock him.

When in Rome...

Like many other things — running water, newspapers, social welfare, bound books, roads and highways and the calendar — we probably have ancient Rome to thank (or curse) for our politicians' obsessions with grandiosity.

According to a BBC report, the imperial cult loomed large in the Roman State religion where emperors and members of their families were regarded as gods. Julius Caesar was famously declared as divine upon his death and Caesar's son allowed temples to be set up to worship him.

As they say, when in Rome...

With inputs from agencies

Updated Date: Sep 14, 2017 11:52 AM

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