Friday, November 11, 2005

The President

The Daily Times published in Pakistan today revealed growing differences between Dr. Abdul Kalam, India's President, and the Congress Party. While I can not vouch for the accuracy of the report, it suggests that the President was unhappy at the dissolution of the Bihar legislature in light of the subsequent order of the Supreme Court that had described the move as "unconstitutional". The President had been uncomfortable with the Congress-appointed Governor of Bihar's advice to dissolve the assembly. The news item added that the Prime Minister's office had stopped forwarding minutes of the Cabinet Committee on Political Affairs and the Cabinet Committee on Security to the President. The Congress Party feared the rumored close links of the President with the opposition BJP. The Daily Times quoted Mrs. Ambika Soni, the Congress General Secretary and Sonia Gandhi loyalist, who is alleged to have stated that her party "would be happy if Kalam resigns" as "he was an appointee of the previous regime".

The editorial of the Indian Express today refers to the President's call for internal controls in the executive in line with the existing checks and balances in the Indian judiciary and the legislature. There is a larger issue at stake here. The Presidency can not be politicized and trivialized by partisan considerations. This institution represents the Indian Republic and transcends party politics. The President is the Head of State and the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces. He symbolizes the Indian nation in its entirety. India's Chief Executive should not be subjected to narrow and short-term partisan pressures.

I have high regard for the President, who lived part of his boyhood years in Sri Lanka. Dr. Kalam's contributions to the Indian Defence Research and Development Organization and the Indian Space Research Organization were extensive. He helped design India's nuclear program, its missile program and space program. He played a key role in the development of the satellite launch vehicle, and the Agni and Prithvi missiles. Dr. Radhakrishnan and he have been two of India's most accomplished Presidents to date. Ambika Soni's alleged comments were uncalled for. She is unable to think beyond the confines of her narrow political interest and grasp the broader institutional issues at stake.


doubtinggaurav said...


I do not know about it.
This is too dumb even for the Big Tent Party....
Or I may be under-estimating their dumbness.


indianpatriot said...

The main issue is what was the mandate in last loksabha elections.
I donot think it was against BJP or for BJP. Whenever BJP was in direct competition with congress(MP, Rajasthan, Karnataka, Chittasgarh, Orissa(Allied with BJD), Gujarath,Maharashtra(with Shivsena) BJP truimphed. Success was lesser in Gujarath, Maharashtra. I exclude Haryana, Delhi where congress truimphed. It was vote for alliance in Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar and Jharkhand.It was partly overconfidence of young turks like Pramod Mahajan, Arun Jaitley spurning of alliances in Assam, Haryana and Tamil Nadu which cost NDA around 50-60 seats which made the difference between being 5 more years or sitting in opposition. It was neither a vote for India shining or India not shining. Urban voters rejected BJP in Delhi and Mumbai but BJP won in Bangalore. The message of 2004 was somewhat similar to 1996. Congress inspite of several claiming revival did worse than in 1977(when it lost power for the first time) or even in 1996 or 1998. India did not face any external threat in 2004 unlike in 1999. It did not have a single national issue like 1971 (Indira's truimph against Grand opposition coalition),1977(against emergency), 1980(against Janata Parivar and return of Indira Gandhi), 1984 (Indira Assasination) or 1989 (vote against Rajeev). Probably it would be a good suggestion to introduce runoff elections if a coalition or party comes close to majority. It is currently happenning in Bihar which either way may lead to a clear cut mandate probably leading to a midterm election sometimes next year.

Jaffna said...

Gaurav, Indian Patriot,

The news report in the Pakistani newspaper yesterday concerned me. I hope that the President does not resign. Manmohan Singh had dissuaded him from doing so. India is in safe hands with Abdul Kalam and Manmohan Singh. I was relieved that Singh had earlier insisted that Natwar step down.

The coterie around Sonia Gandhi somehow lacks the broader and long term national vision as evidenced by Ambika Soni's reported comments on the President. The Congress party, unfortunately, has had a habit of weakening Indian institutions. It had manipulated the institution of the presidency for its own narrow political interests. Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed and K.R. Narayanan come to mind. The latter hurriedly rushed to offer Sonia Gandhi the primiership in 1998 although she subsequently failed to muster the requisite numbers to form a Government and elections were inevitable, one that the BJP had convincingly won.

Narayanan was a Congress bureaucrat. While he quite rightly condemned the attacks on proselytizing Christian missionaries, he failed to highlight the deteriorating law and order situation in caste-endemic Bihar and Uttar Pradesh where Dalits were often at the receiving end of backward caste violence.

Dr. Abdul Kalam is important for several reasons i.e. (i) his non-partisan professional integrity (like the Prime Minister); (ii) his contribution to Indian science and technology; (iii) his role as a role model for India's younger generation; (iv) his thoughtful interventions (like his recent speech on the separation of powers) that auger well for the continuity of India's institutions; and (v) his personal value system as a deeply devout and practicing Muslim who contributed so much to India's defence.

This last point merits attention. India has a Muslim President and a Sikh Prime Minister. The country's ideals embody an enlightened liberalism and multi-culturalism (despite the unfortunate street riots) unmatched by the United States, Britain and France.

While the rabidly Marxist N. Ram of the now left-wing "Hindu" newspaper had earlier attacked Abdul Kalam, I remain of the view that Dr. Sarvapalli Radhakrishnan and Dr. Abdul Kalam are perhaps the best chief executives India has had. While Radhakrishnan contributed extensively to the study of Indian philosophy, Abdul Kalam contributed to applied science and the defence of India. This makes him more relevant to the challenge of today.

doubtinggaurav said...


My apologies for off topic rant which follows

"India is in safe hands with Abdul Kalam and Manmohan Singh."

"But.... look he is decent, polite, humble , sincere etc. etc."

It is difficult for me to fathom middle class fascination with Manmohan Singh.
The claim that Manmohan is honest politician is farcical, because Old doctor is not a Politician, he is a career bureaucrat and/or acamedician, and average one at that, which in my opinion, is hardly sufficient to lead my country.

There are many people who are decent and polite (even in politics), that is not a qualification to be PM.

To give an example,I will want my surgeon to actually know surgery, in addtion to be honest.
Politeness, I can live without.

In the same way, I want my Prime Minister to lead me and my people, and not take permission like a grade V student from stupid gandhis.

Anyone, who has to act as a doormat to a family full of dunces 24X7 all his life, has to be humble.

I dont expect PM of India, who is, in effect my leader to bow to blackmail and bear witness to murder of democratic spirit, which happened in Goa, JharKhand, Bihar.

Frankly speaking it amazes me to see how people will gladly accept spineless leaders for some fictitious decency.

"But he is the architect of liberalization".

No, he is not, the steps that were taken by him were hardly eureka worthy.

Many individuals and political entities had suggested/advocated similar reforms in past.
Swatantra Party was pro-reform, but, was rejected by vox populi , seduced by socialist rambling of another sincere and photogenic leader.

Nani Palkhiwaala kept shouting in wilderness over the need to reform.
In exhange, he got scorn of intellectual class.

If the reform could start in 1990, it was because of impending crisis and because Narsimha Rao, backed Manmohan Singh to the hilt.

In my opinion credit should go to Narsimha Rao to have the guts to go against popular opinion.

The popular myth that Manmohan singh is a good PM because he is decent,honest, or Oxonian is as maddening to me as Sonia Gandhi's "Renunciation".


libertarian said...

DG, you're being very harsh on Manmohan. He is not a politician and that is a good thing - exactly the kind of separation of executive and legislature that Kalam was probably headed towards. To your point on his mediocrity, he'd easily qualify as well above average among heads of government (Kalam is head of state - he's pretty far up as well). It constantly amazes me that the likes of Laloo and Devi Lal have/have had executive positions purely on the basis of clout in the legislature. We need more Praful Patels and Murasoli Marans in the executive who may not win an election, but who certainly know how to run efficient productive organizations.

Jaffna, completely agree that Kalam's resignation would be a mini-Kalamity. He's a great guy - certainly meets the integrity and intellect bars for this high office. I wish I could play back for interested folks what Ray Lane (ex-Oracle COO) had to say about Dr Kalam. Would gladden every Indian's heart.

doubtinggaurav said...


I think you are going too much into technicalities.

Prime minister is not only head of executive, he is also leader of legislature and leader of the nation.

If I can use a analogy, President/CEO/Directors should have confidence of his
stock-holders, not to have so will be dishonest.

Responsiblity & accountablity of leaders to citizens is central to concept of democracy.

Sepration of executive and legislature doesnt mean executive is not accountable to legislature abd legislatre to people.

By divesting executive of its political nature, you will make it essentially unaccountable and end up with bureaucracy or technocracy.

Murasoli Maran IS not Prime Minister, and Don't tell me that Prime minister is "Just first among equals".
Actually now I come to think of it Murasoli Maran was more political that our doctor.

No, I don't think Manmohan Singh is bad(that was the reason I self qualified my post as rant).

But, I am highly allergic to middle class sophistry.

I remember, my relatives supporting emergency, because "At least train were on the time".

May I remind you gentlemen that democracy demands unceasing vigilance by "us the people".


I don't think Presidents matter, they are merely glorified rubber stamps.

Docs Dope said...

chill dude..dont think of politics all the time..chill


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