Every five years, when it’s time to elect the new President of the India, there is needless muscle flexing and show of strength that eventually fizzles out and amounts to nothing. This time seems to be no different. The UPA has settled on Pranab Mukherjee, while the opposition is still in the hunt for a candidate of its own. Thankfully, former President Abdul Kalam refused to take the bait and seems to have survived with his reputation intact. He knew better than to fall prey to a losing cause when he had already served a creditable stint as the President.
The President of India is largely a ceremonial post and nobody refutes that. Most people can barely name our past Presidents (barring probably APJ Abdul Kalam) because in the last few decades, none of them have really had a lasting impact on the country. Sadly, the post of President is generally considered a retirement appointment. Someone who is a safe bet, should it ever come to a crisis of any sort, is often the choice, Pratibha Patil, being a prime example. Plucked from virtual obscurity, she was rewarded with the Presidency for her blind loyalty to the Gandhi family. After several foreign tours with friends and family, she is now headed towards a safe and comfortable retirement. In short, her stint has been a complete waste of taxpayer resources with absolutely nothing to show for it except for a controversy surrounding her post-retirement home. Despite being the first woman President, she has far from proven to be an inspirational figure or a role model of any sort. The irony is that she is hardly to blame because her landing the post is a reflection of the state of our democracy and politics more than anything else.