Politicians rank just slightly above or below lawyers on the believability index. So does advertising. Products are glorified, exaggerated claims are made - everything from deodrants setting desirable women on fire to  creams that delay the process of aging.

But advertising is like flattery. People need lies to enhance their self-confidence. They need to see the  glowing skin of the model in the advertising or the strands of hair that cascade silkily, blown by the breeze. Do people really believe they can get hair as nice as that just by using the shampoo? No way. But they are shooting for an ideal - if the shampoo can make that model's hair look so good, may be it can make my hair a trifle better than it does now.  I can't be as popular as the boy in the toothpaste ad, but I can at least fantasize.

Advertising is the only realm in which fantasies come true. The most outrageous ones where children come home after bathing in dirt and are met by an indulgent happy mother. Or a boyish cricketer getting to watch an adult film simply by sharing his biscuits

It's never true. And that's precisely why we need fantasy. If only to escape the humdrum. This is a world in which nothing goes wrong. Or if it does, it can be set right, by using the right mouthwash. The pimple ads show a girl with just one pimple, not an acne- scarred, Martian crater cheek. Families sing and dance, they don't sit morosely around a dinner table. An appointment letter is reason enough to break the world's high jump record. It's as if emotions are turned on to max. Smiles are siesmic. Words are perfectly intoned, thoughts come in a logical sequence. Shy guys impress gorgeous girls. Not having bad breath is enough to have the prettiest girl in class swoon over you.

So what does all this have to do with politicians? Simply this. Politicians sell you dreams as well. They charge you nothing. But the price they extract is heavy.  They promise the entire country that life will be better. That they can expect social justice. And jobs. And a great future for their children.  Comparing advertising to politicians is like comparing the pick pocket to the mafia.

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