We have a new President. Will we remember him ten years from now?

Congratulations to the new Hon’ble President of India Shri Ramanath Kovind. 65% of votes is a lot and shows the approval of our elected representatives. However, the question is do people see you as their president? 

Till a month ago, we hardly knew the name Ramanath Kovind, a career politician hailing from Bihar affiliated to BJP and RSS. He is now the second Dalit president of India which is quite remarkable for a community that’s ill treated to this day. His election may or may not help the community, directly or indirectly. Something to be seen in the coming future. Has K.R.Narayanan’s tenure helped the community in anyway? Don’t think so.

Mr. Kovind is a B.Com LLB graduate and has a decent track record as an advocate and as the Governor of Bihar. His time in politics is dotted with electoral losses although he was elected to the Rajya Sabha, the upper house, twice. A simple wikipedia search says he used his MPLAD to build schools in a few places. Nice to hear. He has also represented India in the UN once in 2002. Beyond that there’s nothing impressive about him.

It’s not like we always had charismatic personalities as the nation’s president. We hardly knew who Ms. Pratibha Patil was when she was elected as the president. These are the presidents I have seen in my lifetime, not sure about the ones before I was born.

When we look at the other presidents India had, most of them seem to have been influential in public life. Some were academicians, many were Bharat Ratna awardees – India’s highest civilian honour. Most have an impressive track record, except Ms. Pratibha Patil and Mr. Ramanath Kovind. 

Question: Is it necessary for a president to have an impressive track record?

Answer: Yes. At least in the 21st century.

A president, according to my opinion, should be a person of very high stature. A president should either be an academician, a scientist or a social worker or a person who has done something that has touched most of our lives in one way or the other. Someone whose presence would demand respect not because she’s holding a constitutional position, but because she deserves that respect.

In my active life, I’ve seen one such person. Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam. He was known as the missile man, thanks to his contributions to India’s indigenous missile program. When he took office as the President of India, he spoke vocally about the India he wants to see. He laid down Vision 2020 and publicized it across the nation. He didn’t waste our public money on vacations, instead took his Vision 2020 message to every nook and corner of the nation. He shared his vision with the media, the politicians, the businessmen, college students and school students alike. He ensured everyone understood their duties towards the nation to see a better Indian by 2020. Ask the students who got the chance to interact with him, how inspired they were.

I too had the chance to meet the missile man, also known as People’s President, after he finished his term. I was doing my bachelor’s degree in engineering when he had visited the city I was studying in. Select students from my college were sent to attend the conference. We probably spent a minute in direct conversation and shook hands with him, but it was inspiring. The man’s approachability, his simplicity, his down to earth personality and his love towards students, being an academician himself, was memorable.

Times are changing. This is the era of technology, but also that of the mob, of mediocrity. It’s open truth why Mr. Kovind was nominated to the post in the first place. Caste is woven into our social fabric, caste-based politics is woven into our political fabric.

Will Mr. Kovind leave behind his RSS-BJP affiliation and rise above mediocrity or will he be another president who’ll use public funds to enjoy all the material facilities and perks that the post brings? Time will tell.

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