Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Indictment of the political leadership by Dr. Abdul Kalam

The political parties no longer care about him, and some of them will even condemn him, now that he has just a few days left in office. But, try as you can, you cannot dismiss the impact that Dr. P J Abdul Kalam has brought into the largely ceremonial role of President. Now, by statute, the Indian President is mostly powerless, with basically 2 independent powers.
- To select the Prime Minister in the case of a hung parliament. However, this is no longer a case where discretion can be used. With a vigilant media, and with the Supreme Court ready to take cases related to the appointment and dismissal powers of the President, the President can only take a logical decision.
- To return a bill that the President does not consider as right. This is also not an absolute power, since the legislature is capable of discussing the Bill and sending it right back to the President in the same form as it was received. As was seen in the Office for Profits case, when the President sent back a bill, many MP's reacted with fury, and essentially the same bill was sent back to him. In addition, the Congress leadership decided that this was an indication that the President is not a compliant President and has made a direct attack on Mrs. Sonia Gandhi (since she was the chief beneficiary of the Bill).
So, anyhow back to the topic. In mind of the fact that the President of India is a glorified figurehead, our current President has enthused a lot of people. He has done many tours around the country, tried to inspire children towards the future of the nation, and so on. He has done much better than the last several Presidents, who were mostly sinecures for the position, political people who could be trusted on to do the right thing and not make any waves.
Well, this President has given a speech that should be seen as an indicator of what a person in his position thinks. In a speech at the launch of the e-court system in New Delhi, the President actually spoke of the judiciary being a model of excellence, specially when compared to the other arm of the state, which is the executive / legislature.

“Our society is going through unique dynamics due to the shortage of leadership with nobility. The only hope the nation cherishes and looks to is the judiciary with its excellence and impeccable integrity... This casts a very heavy responsibility on the entire judicial system to live up to the expectations reposed in it and to maintain the sacred aura attached to it unsullied. Qualities of honesty and integrity are synonymous with each member of the judicial system,” he said.
Describing the country’s judicial system as “dynamic” and “throbbing with life”, Kalam said “as the ultimate protector of human rights and the final resort for dispensation of justice, the citizens of India look up to this institution with hope.”

Even though this is something difficult to accept, it is true. Our political system is rotten to the core, with corruption being stained throughout the system. It takes a person no less than the President to make such a point, and yet I don't think that anything can change so easily. We continue to elect people on the basis of caste, creed, religion, or political affiliation, and this is not going to change.
And the other thing which he said, about people looking to the judiciary with hope, totally true. Even though the judiciary has also been linked with corrupt practices, it is still a better institution than other state institutions. It has tried to reverse the trend of corruption, to put a break on laws that were implemented for crass political reasons, and numerous other activities of a similar nature. Eventually, if we continue to see our political system as unresponsive, people are going to go the courts more and more for salvation.

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posted by Ashish Agarwal @ 11:42 PM