So, Pratibha Patil for President of India just because she’s a woman?

The DMK, said the headlines, feels that Pratibha Patil‘s election as the President will be the first step towards 30 percent reservations for women. Pranab Mukherjee, who was the UPA’s first choice for President, said in a statement that he hopes all parties will come together to elect India’s first woman President.
And that’s exactly what I’m against: electing someone, anyone, the President of India primarily because they’re a scientist, a dalit or a woman. The focus should be on issues, on past performance and current beliefs. The party nominating Patil for President shouldn’t be using her being a woman as a peg – but then again, it’s a sad reflection of the politics of our times.
At the same time, petitions have been doing the rounds on the Internet for the last eight months to re-elect Abdul Kalam as President. I’ve received several mails from friends to sign this petition or that. Nowhere does anyone tell me why Kalam ought to be re-elected.

I’m of the opinion that he’s been a rubber stamp, and on only one issue has he stood his ground – the office of profit bill. Even there, he eventually gave way, though not all of his recommendations were implemented. His PR people and advisors have done a great job in creating a “Chacha Nehru” type persona for Kalam, and most people seem to have bought that.
But then again – this is India, the sycophantic Congress is in power, and the media is wagging its tail. Democracy, of course, runs on alcohol.

P.s.: This is the Wikipedia page on Pratibha Patil before her candidature was announced yesterday. Look at it now. Amazes me how fast these guys got into the act and updated the Wiki.

Update: A couple of interesting posts on the same issue:

Amrita writes:

“The point wasn’t to send a woman to Raisina Hill. The point was to elect the best person for the job – caste, religion and gender no bar…
…Tell me how she’s the best person for the job, tell me why she deserves this honor, tell me why I should be proud of her for things she did rather than something decided in her mother’s womb. Tell me why she represents me and my country. Don’t try to guilt me into accepting her as the face of my country.”

Read: Pratibha Patil, President of India

However, I don’t agree with her support for Kalam, as mentioned in the post above and the comments.

From NAyk:

“So what am I trying to say? Let us see the sham that this nomination of a woman president really is. Like Kalam earlier, it’s a political move that is meant to pay divides for the party stock (even today BJP claims credit for appointing Kalam as a ‘good’ president). And in India, where politics is linked to identity of the candidate, the President is the ultimate symbol of a parties vote aspirations (trying to woo a section of people) while following it’s own agenda within closed-doors without actual desire for the upliftment of the people they are claiming to care about.”

Read: BJP etc reject woman ‘president’: the real problem

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  1. That’s an interesting perspective. A post without maturity or lack of general knowledge I presume.
    I agree to your first point that president should not be elected on the basis of “because they’re a scientist, a dalit or a woman.” but to say that “His PR people and advisors have done a great job in creating a “Chacha Nehru” type persona for Kalam, and most people seem to have bought that.” is rather immature. You don’t seem to be a person who has read vision 2020 or wings of fire or for that matter any behind the scenes info about our president. For a nation to have someone with a vision that spans development to teachers is in itself a privilege. If Dr. Kalam is not qualified then who else would you suggest? Dr. Kalam’s tenure is akin to Dr.Manmohan’s liberalization policies of the early nineties. As an IT employee I benefit from those policies and 10 years down the lane you will see leaders inspired by Kalam. To maintain a public image and show another character at home is a skill and few have mastered that act. To maintain an impeccable record without allegations in a democracy, you’ll agree with me if you have enjoyed limelight.

  2. “A post without maturity or lack of general knowledge I presume.”

    Well, I feel the same way about your comment. You’re basing your opinion of Kalam on his writings and media reports, and not on his actions (rather, in this case – lack of action). That’s immature.

    Apparently you’ve also bought into the hype of Manmohan Singh being responsible for liberalization…if anyone deserves credit for that, then it’s the World Bank. The World Bank bailed India out when they had only enough Forex reserves to pay for 2 weeks of imports, in exchange for policy changes. Manmohan Singh and Narasimha Rao had no other option. But then they did what any smart government would have done – taken credit for it. And you’re naive enough to buy that PR, just as you are naive enough to buy Kalam’s PR.

    Also, I shall not comment on Kalam’s tenure as a liason between the DRDO, the military and the Government, since that is hearsay.

  3. Hey Nikhil, thanks for linking! 🙂
    That bit about her Wiki entry is hilarious but it’s also a sign of how the netas arent as backward as I sometimes like to think.

    On the issue of Kalam, I think that’s an interesting angle to take. But as I said in my reply on my blog, the problem is that the President’s role is largely symbolic. He is rarely expected to do anything. The last guy to try and make it count was Rajendra Prasad I think and Nehru pretty much scotched that idea in the bud and subsequent Presidents have largely steered clear of exerting their rights too energetically. I can’t really think of an instance other than the Office of Profit Bill, mentioned above in your post, where he could have contributed in a significant manner and made it count.

    As for why do so many of us like him, I believe Cherian Thomas put it well – Kalam is the first person in a long time who came forward with a vision for India which is more than anybody else in the political class can claim. The others are all busy trying to serve their base (which obviously follows from their being politicians) but Kalam, with no such worries, had a chance to talk about things like the environment – things nobody wanted to “waste” their time on.

  4. In our kind of democracy theoretically the President can’t really exercise his power can he….he can’t stop a bill being passed, he can refer it back but then he has to put his signature in any case. The chair of President is a honorary position and often given to people who have excelled in a particular field like in the case of Dr Kalam (..I am not his fan). When he got elected another lady was pitched up against him Dr Lakshmi Sahgal but Pratibha Patil she’s a very poor candidate for a President. And as far as Dr Kalam is considered no matter what people say he’s going to step down…he has said it himself.


    Shrimati Indira Gandhi was the first Women Prime Minister of India, but she behaved like as if she was the Iron man of India. The victory in 1971 Pakistan war was a historic moment in her life. She had taken our country to a global level. She had also made a huge contribution in Nuclear Power, as a result of which we are also a Nuclear Power in the world.

    Shrimati Sonia Gandhi sacrificed the post of Prime Minister and set a huge example of her love towards our country. She also looks and behaves very similar to Indira Gandhi. When I see her on television I think that as if Shrimati Indira Gandhi is standing in front of me. She had made an historic decision by nominating Shrimati Pratibha Patil for the post of President of India. Although our country is Male Dominated she had set her mark by getting nominated for the post of President and this proves that Women in India are now a strong force to deal with.

    After Sixty years of Independence a Woman leader is going to become the President of our country which is a beginning of a Revolution. Since she had born in Maharashtra which is the birth place of Shivaji and she got married in Rajasthan which is the birth place of Maharanapratap. Therefore she possesses all the qualities of these leaders and she is taking their pride to Delhi.

    Shrimati Pratibha Patil had born on 19th December 1934 in Jalgaon. She is a Taurean and her Nakshatra is Rohini. From Moon to fifth house Mars is situated which shows that she is very intelligent. Since Ketu is situated in her third house she is very daring in taking decisions. This can be seen from the fact that after marriage she refused to keep the surname of her husband and kept her own surname ‘Patil’ which was a very big thing in that time. In today’s world women can inspire from Shrimati Pratibha Patil and make their own identity after marriage also.

    Saturn is situated in her tenth house which is providing her success in every walk of life. Coincidentally her Nineth and Tenth house lord is also Saturn. According to Parashar rule it is a very big Rajyog and hence she can definitely become the President of India.

    In the coming time it is very necessary for us to wake the Women Power in our country to save our country from Terrorism and other Illegal Activities.
    With God’s grace we have to get rid of all the Devil power which is stopping our country to become the most powerful nation of the world. During the Pakistan war Shrimati Indira Gandhi had made an historic moment. Since 1971 war nobody has created an impact like Indiraji as she had done in her time. Prime Minister like Atal Bihari Vajpayee was also not able to cross the border line of Pakistan at the time of Kargil War. As a result of which we had to face a very serious loss. If we would had Indira Gandhi at that time instead of Atal Bihari Vajpayee we would had cross their border and given them a beating of a life time.

    Lately, but Sonia Gandhi has awakened the Women Power in India. In the coming future 33% Women reservation bill have to be pass and this will happen in the present Loksabha till 2008. Our country is going through a revolution of Women Power and we will soon be observing an era which is totally Women Dominated. Now the time has come in which Women should be equally respected like Men, because according to my calculation Women are the future of our Country.

    Shrimati Sonia Gandhiji you should move forward towards development of our country because the whole nation is with you. Although you come from a Royal family you behave like a common woman. Looking at the stars of Pratibha Patil she is definitely going to become the President of our country Shrimati Sonia gandhiji has done a very good job by nominating her name for the post of President and it will be very beneficial for our country.

    – Pt. Shyam Sharma
    Cell: 9833847174

  6. Great to see that in someone’s estimation, ‘nari’ comes way after ‘jawan’, ‘kisan’, and ‘majdoor’! Not very far from ‘dhor’, ‘ganwar’ and ‘shudra’, is it? Is there a word for irony in Hindi?

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