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The First Citizen

April 29, 2012

What, in my view, is an unnecessary decoration to the apparatus of the state was created by the Constituent Assembly: the non executive President of India.

For a well meaning and competent person, the position is a gilded cage that has no powers nor reason for existence. The theory says s/he is the Supreme Commander of the armed forces, can supercede normal functioning of the state in an emergency, etc.That bills passed by Parliament need his / her approval.

It did not require an Indira Gandhi to amend the constitution to cut down the real powers of the Presidency. Her father and the original autocrat demonstrated wonderfully well that Rajan Babu in the Presidential Palace, the Rashtrapati Bhavan if you will, was but someone who had to sign on the dotted line.

The only situation where s/he has any discretion now would be in invting the leader of some particular political formation to form a government when there is a “hung” parliament. This discretion could have very well been assigned to the Election Commissioner. With more than one now, I think I should say the Chief Election Commissioner. It could have been even better if it were  assigned to a troika of the Election Commissioner, the Chief Justice and the Comptroller General. The Comptroller could in fact also audit the electoral process. The expense of the President’s office does not justify maintaining it for this sole purpose. The pomp of the office is an insult to an egalitarian society.

The list of successive incumbents also marks the deterioration in standards. There have been those eager to sign any old paper placed before them, after getting roused in the middle of the night, without even a simple question; those eager to sweep the backyard of the Prime Minister for the time being; those that only wanted to go on jaunts. While an early incumbent was one who donated his lands, the last one wants to grab land. While there has been an example of one who went back to his two-room professorial accommodation, most others have retired to impregnable fortresses.

The qualifications for the president identified by the leaders constituting the electoral college, are also amazing. The religion, caste, and gender of the candidate seem to be the overriding criteria. It was an insult to him to elect Prof Abdul Kalam for his religion. Or KR Narayanan for being a Dalit. Yes, they (the electors) were proud of this! It is representative of the political solution we have achieved for the inequities of the past that citizens of the secular state have always to be reminded of their societal denomination.


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  1. Induchoodan permalink

    I agree with you fully.

  2. sivasankar permalink

    yes agree with u r views

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