Wednesday, June 13, 2012

A statesman as President

It appears likely that India's next President will be Pranab Mukherjee. The prospect does not enthuse me in the least. A nation of more than 1 billion people seems to be able to do no better than to have politicians and civil servants appointed/elected to every conceivable position of power and/or  prestige. 

We do lavish a lot of attention and affection on Bollywood stars and sports persons (cricketers, to be precise) and make sure that they dot the Parliament in adequate number to lend some glamour to the House. However, their presence in the Upper House is, in terms of contribution to law making, of no significance whatsoever. They know that as well, which perhaps explains their low attendance during the proceedings of the House. 

We overlook, however, men and women who have achieved eminence in the fields of arts, sciences, public service, industry and trade, education etc etc. The one exception that was made in the recent past was APJ Abdul Kalam, but the success of that experiment seems to have only ensured that it is not repeated ----- not surprising, perhaps, given the recent and rapid decline in ethical standards in public life. 

Yes, Pranab Mukherjee is an experienced, astute and competent politician. At 77, however, he should perhaps be thinking of retirement from active politics. In India, alas, politicians and civil servants do not retire. They simply make a smooth transition from active participation/service to such positions as President/Governor/Chairman/Member etc etc and ensure that their perquisites and privileges continue to be paid for during their lifetimes by the taxpayer.

I'd like to see as President someone who has a vision for the country, a philosophy underlying that vision, the energy, zeal and competence to rally people round that vision and translate it into reality,someone who places the nation and public good over self and party ------ in brief, a statesman.  It's not likely to happen ------ if not Pranab Mukherjee, who does not satisfy these job requirements,we are confronted with  the disturbing possibility of having a former Speaker or the current Prime Minister as the President. The  very fact that these names are today doing the rounds shows how very cynical and profit driven  the whole exercise of election of the President has become.

1 comment:

  1. yes. This time the nomination of the President has become a mockery of sorts. I feel ashamed because I do not want to mock my future President. But how painful to see the current PM being proposed as a President! MMS should resign, in not for other things, then just for the complete lack of trust and respect for the position of PM.