Wednesday, June 20, 2007

President Drama in India

We are poised to get a new President. UPA (led by Congress Party) has proposed Pratibha Patil, NDA (led by BJP) has proposed Bhairon Singh Shekawat, while the rest (comprising many regional parties, which formed a new front called UNPA) proposed Kalam once again.

The newspapers and media are having a field day, the blogs and forums are filled with many opinions. What is my take on this?

First, I don't think we need a President. We have had so many presidents. Of what use were they to us? Other than the fact that we remember their names for the sake of answering exam questions and quiz tests, we don’t really associate them with anything remarkable. What did KR Narayanan do? Can we name a single worthwhile act? What did illustrious Kalam do?

The worst punishment you can give to a very dynamic and effective individual in India is to make him/her a President. Once he or she becomes a President all action stops. That is the worst thing that can happen to someone who believes in action. He becomes a rubber stamp, a ‘face’, a mannequin in a window of a big shop. He smiles, shakes hands and throws some clich├ęs in speeches. Whatever Kalam did, he did before he became the President of India. Once he became the President, his actions stopped. These five years were such a waste of time for him.

Why do we need this figurehead anyway? It’s such a waste of time and resources, time and money. I believe strongly that we don't need a President of India. Instead, the Prime Minister post can be combined with this post, and he/she could be elected directly by the people (instead of intermediaries who seem to hijack the will of the people).

Merit and President of India

On one of the forums that I was discussing, one commenter suggested that the contest between Kalam and Pratibha Patil will be a contest of merit and quota politics.

Now if Kalam accepts, then this will be a contest between merit and quota politics.

I don't know what is so meritorious about Kalam? Is being an engineer and heading a missile program a necessary qualification to become a President of India? Or being a bachelor or Muslim a qualification to become a President of India? What is merit got to do with becoming President?

If ever there is any qualification, I would assume that it would be some experience in politics of India- its administration, its elections, being accountable to a democratic institution- which Kalam fails on all counts. On the other hand, this lady - Pratibha Patil - is actually 'meritorious' compared to Kalam on all counts. She was a lawyer, an administrator, a politician, an elected people's representative, and a governor (acting as caretaker of constitution).

Indians grow up NOT knowing what merit is all about. They want to associate it with everything including elected leaders of India. Since they are used to writing exams, getting ranks, they think that Indian leaders should also go through the same process. The yuppie urban Indians who get educated in protected environs would rather select their MPs/MLAs through an entrance test. That way they can attend some tutorial schools, mug up for the exam to become the legislators of this country.

Come to think of it, Indians CANNOT have Bill Gates or Steve Jobs EVER because we will always measure a person by his degree, which school he went to in kindergarten, which college he attended, how many certifications he passed, what was his rank in IAS, etc.


  1. your post on the president of india is very logical.The president doesn't have many powers.But kalam was able to inspire whole generation of indians.ashok

  2. I agree. Everyone talks about President Kalam being someone who loves children, blah, blah. But in the last 5 years I've lived in Bangalore, there has been nothing done to rehabilitate child beggars on the streets or curb child labour. So it is pretty clear that the President's views make no material difference whatsoever to the condition of the people. Then, one may ask, why bother with this figurehead? Does it matter if it is Tom, Dick or Harry?

  3. Hi,

    I have tagged you as the thinking blogger. see here:

  4. Sujai, you are the best Indian blogger I've seen. This post was simply superb. It really tells how rhetoric sweeps so many people of their feet completely dislodging them from their logical and rational perception.

  5. True - why so many fights over who is the next president....damn, the president, people, in India, has no power.....!!

  6. Just read your blog on president, I don't agree to what you say. You're telling us, that Pratibha Patil has all qualifications to become a president because she's in Politics. Well in common sense this means, you need to be corrupt to become president. For sure President is a rubber stamp, but atleast you need someone from whom you can get inspired. What inspiration does Patil gives you or me? At least Kalam gave an inspiration to become like him, and serve this country.
    But well you can have your own opinion and I can have mine {after all its democracy :)}

  7. Dear Tongue of Steel:
    For sure President is a rubber stamp, but atleast you need someone from whom you can get inspired.
    Is that requirement or an expectation – that we need someone who can inspire us.

    Of the presidents that we have had before, please identify the people who really inspire you – KR Narayanan, whom nobody heard speak? SD Sharma, who would keep sleeping in all meetings? R Venkatraman? Or Giani Zail Singh?

    Is ‘being able to inspire you’ a qualification? And if so, when did it become one? When Abdul Kalam became the President?

    I didn’t say that Pratibha Patil has all the qualifications to become a President, but compared to Abdul Kalam, she has definitely served more time as a politician.

    I don’t know what you mean by:
    Well in common sense this means, you need to be corrupt to become president.

    Are you saying that you ‘to be in Politics’ is same as ‘being corrupt’?

    Then I guess we should hold exam to elect our leaders! A test on Morals and Ethics would be good too! What do you say? Then we can all go to tutorials and mug up the answers and become the leaders of this nation!

  8. Dear sujai I agree with you but what do you say about president prathiba patil she spent nearly 205 crores for so called foreign trips if leaders like her elected to president post then they are openly spending public money. what is your comment on this.

  9. You are saying that prime minister should be merged with president then what if in the span of 5 years if PM is brought down by losing his supporters then who will do his role all of a sudden


Dear Commenters:
Please identify yourself. At least use a pseudonym. Otherwise there will be too many *Anonymous*; making it confusing.

Do NOT write personal information or whereabouts about the author or other commenters. You are free to write about yourself. Please do not use abusive language. Do not indulge in personal attacks and insults.

Write comments which are relevant and make sense so that the debate remains healthy.