Saturday, September 25, 2010

Missile Man of India v/s The Defused Bomb of Maharashtra

I rarely write about such stuff because it includes politics and I consider myself to be as dumb as Joey about it. But, here goes nothing.

Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam

Our favourite president.
Or is he our most famous president? I personally can't name more than 4 and I will never forget the name of two of them. APJ and Pratibha Patil. Lets say this post is devoted to the two of probably the most famous presidents of our time, for very different reasons.

Everbody loves APJAK. No one has a reason to hate him. He's super-intelligent, super-nice and talks about including youth in the movement for the nation's growth. Why wouldn't you love him? There are videos of his speech's standing ovation in the UN.
His 10 books sell like hot cakes. 6 people have written his biography. He's the first Asian to get the Hoover Medal, which has been awarded to the likes of Alfred Sloan Jr., Dwight Eisenhower as well a couple of other US Presidents.
But, really what all this brings to light is how many years it took the Government to include a scientist in office. And only 2 presidents have gotten the Bharat Ratna before him. Aren't presidents supposed to have it by default?
So, there is a wonderful sentiment in the air about our APJ. He always laughs. He always impresses. He got us into space and gave us the power to kick Pakistan's ass. But then, suddenly, just like a hot shower suddenly spewes cold water on you, his tenure gets over. Is he going to be there for the next 5 years?

Along comes Pratibha Patil, from godknowswhere, reeking of univocal support for Congress. The late Bhairon Singh Shekhawat had no chance whatsoever and she won with almost double the number of votes. So, did APJ not contest? Well, he was advised to do so by AIADMK, SP and TDP combined. He needed assurance to win, which he couldn't get. So, he never tried.
So, Pratibha Devisingh Patil becomes the 12th and the first woman to do so. She claims to have spoken to the spirit of a deceased leader in Mount Abu. But, that's ok. She apparently forgot speeches. But that's ok. She is embroiled in countless controversies regarding banks, sugar and purdah, dating back to 1975. But that's ok.
A self-confessed hippie and an associate of Bob Dylan (So writes Wiki) is now our President.

I am not against woman becoming Presidents. Lets get this fact straight first. Phew...

Now, what image comes into your mind when you hear Patil's name?
An old lady in a silk saree, slow to move. Slow to talk. Figure of enough prominence to represent us in front of 190 countries? I think not. Rather, I expect Her/His excellency The President Of India to look, talk and walk like the name sounds - The Supreme Commander. Honorary, heavy and capable of sweeping the meeting off its heels in one go with sheer intelligence and humility, with so much as a smile on the face. That was APJ for me. I failed to be ignited by Pratibha. I failed to feel proud when she delivers the message to the nation on 15th August. I failed to listen to that message anyway. :P

Personally, APJ being President again would have been a response to the popular demand and the assertion of the national sentiment and pluralism on the face of the UPA. Did UPA want Pratibha to be President or did it need her to be? We'll never know.
What we do know, for a FACT, is that the highest office has been devalued, robbed of its sincerity and austerity. Sha!


  1. There are two things here, as I see.

    1. Background: APJAK was a scientist; PP is a lawyer. There is nothing wrong about being a hippie or an associate of Bob Dylan (I was confused if you meant that as a negative attribute). Being embroiled in controversies is not necessarily wrong too (I see you have said "that's ok"). She has a "countercultural" image. She is opposing purdah, which is...

    She definitely has been a part of several other controversies. But, then, we live in a country where 25% of our MLAs have had a criminal charge. This is not to justify that we should sit back and accept. But, there is a logic to all this - Presidential appointments are invariably politically motivated.

    2. Does she come across as the supreme commander?

    I never, not once, felt that APJAK looked like the supreme commander of the Indian forces! The Indian president is also never the face of the country.
    He/she is purely a figurehead. In fact, the president has literally no powers, unless you say that our constitution gives him x power and y power.

    But, if you say, "just close your eyes and tell me which one is a better representative - just based on what a common man knows about them - then, of course, the answer is clear"

    I'd be more interested to see if you have something like this about Prime Ministers! But, even that might be tough. It is always very hard to do such comparisons, I believe...

  2. If she's a hippie, I have no problems. If she is a lawyer and not a scientist, I have no problems. I dont understand the political involvement in the selection of the President if the seat has no actual power in hand. Why then did Sonia Gandhi publicise her with Women Upliftment while "sacrificing" the post of PM herself, I will not understand. As I said, I hardly know about politics. I am naive in this field. True APJ doesnt represent Supreme Commander, but Pratibha for me somehow signifies weakness and submission. And, ofcourse, scientific figures need to have a better role in the government, than past cabinet ministers and governers.