Vitiligo is a non-painful and non-harmful skin condition which is not infectious in nature. In short, neither is hurts the affected person, nor the people around. It just affects the physical appearance and hence, should not be taken as a big deal. But, the lack of a concrete treatment, coupled with numerous social myths and misconceptions, portrays a somewhat negative image of vitiligo whose implications can be seen on almost every aspect of the affected person.
However, things have improved considerably in recent years; thanks to the improved level of literacy, social awareness and ease of access to the right kind of knowledge. For example, anyone can use google to confirm that vitiligo is not contagious and it doesn’t spread by shaking hands, sharing food, or living together.
Today, we have got N Chandrababu Naidu, the current chief minister of the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh.
A self-made, seasoned politician, won his first election at the age of 28 to become a member of the Andhra Pradesh state assembly and the youngest cabinet minister. Later on, became one of the longest serving chief ministers of his native state. (1)
I couldn’t find any personal statement of Mr Naidu or his family acknowledging his skin condition. However, news articles do give reference of vitiligo when discussing his health, his dressing style of always wearing full sleeve shirts and some of those articles hinted at a vitiligo patch on his chin the reason behind his goatee.
During his tenure from 1994 to 2004, Hyderabad saw phenomenal rise as a prominent IT hub in India. His role in convincing global IT giants, including Microsoft, Google, IBM, Oracle and Dell, to open their units in Hyderabad has been instrumental. In terms of software exports in India, Hyderabad is now second only to Bangalore. In December 1999, the prestigious TIME magazine named him the South Asian of the year. (4) In those years, he was also known as the CEO of Andhra Pradesh for his entrepreneurship skills. In 2017, he was awarded the ‘Transformative Chief Minister’ by the US-India business council. (5)
Vitiligo doesn’t stop N Chandrababu Naidu from shining in the political arena
Politics need massive people contact; meeting new people and giving them hope and confidence with your leadership qualities. The politicians always remain in the public eye. Any person crippled with vitiligo stigma just can’t survive in this walk of life. Definitely, Mr Naidu doesn’t take vitiligo as a ‘weakness’. He seems to overlook it for his life goals of serving people and making a name for himself.
Also, the political opponents sometimes try to exploit your personal life challenges for their benefits. They would make ‘below the belt’ remarks to shatter your confidence. When Mr Naidu announced that he wouldn’t wear costly watches and jewelries and would live a simple life to serve the people, few of his political opponents took a dig on him by saying that he couldn’t wear wristwatches or finger rings because of his skin condition. (6) You see, professional rivalry can be very nasty sometimes, and we all have witnessed it. But, the real deal is not to lose confidence due to such negative, destructive criticism because the more success you achieve, the more criticism you are going to face.
Having said that, we would like to clarify here that vitiligo is an autoimmune health challenge, just like diabetes. In case of diabetes, the faulty, confused immune system attacks the insulin producing cells in the pancreas, whereas, in vitiligo, it attacks the pigment (natural skin color) producing cells in your skin. Hence, it is more of an internal body challenge than a skin challenge and it doesn’t stop a person from wearing favorite clothing or jewellery if he (or she) is confident enough to show the vitiligo spots in public with grace.