Being Truly Presidential

News: With the Presidential election around the corner, there is a question that who will be the ideal president for 21st-century India?

What are the different types of Presidents India witnessed?

According to the author, the past Presidents of India can be grouped into three categories.

Presidents of stature: These are individuals who had formidable personal achievements before entering the office. Such as

a) Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan – He is a magisterial scholar who served in top global universities and authored several classic books, b) Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam – He is regarded as the father of India’s nuclear weapons programme, c) KR Narayanan – He is a distinguished former diplomat.

Political presidents: These are the persons who had political backgrounds and, as former legislators. Such as

a) Rajendra Prasad: He is India’s first president. He is a veteran activist who was imprisoned several times during the Independence movement. b) Ramaswamy Venkataraman: He was a four-time Lok Sabha winner. c) Pranab Mukherjee – He was always a master politician. So, he managed to serve two diametrically opposed political regimes.

Both the first and second types of Presidents faced controversies but they understand the intricacies of politics. For example, Rajendra Prasad made his displeasure with Jawaharlal Nehru known during the passage of the Hindu Code Bill.

“Loyalist” presidents: These are the persons who are stand-ins of the governing political executive. Generally, they are hand-picked politically.  They are responsible for some disputable decisions.

Read more: Procedure and importance of President’s Address in Parliament
What type of President does India want?

India’s democratic institutional checks and balances need reinforcement. Hence, India needs a constitutionalist president. A President who can stand as a guardian of the Constitution and act as neutral umpires.

A President who can ring the warning bell in time and signal that the governments must not cross the Lakshman Rekha of democratic norms. An ideal president is someone who will stand as democracy’s conscience keeper.

Read more: The process of electing India’s President

Source: This post is based on the article “Being Truly Presidential” published in The Times of India on 18th June 22.

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