Saturday, July 21, 2007

Tough Act to Follow

In about a week's time, India will have its first woman President and Mrs. Prathiba Patil woiuld have been sworned in. She will have a tough act to follow the footsteps of President Kalam. Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam will leave for Chennai with just suit cases from Delhi, but would have a left a very large void at Raisina Hill. He is by far the best and most apolitical figure to occupy the highest seat of India.

Some people dismiss Dr. Kalam's popularity as just a middle class phenomenon and isn't there where it matters most. The political view is that, middle class don't vote and hence the popularity amongst them don't count.

By ignoring Dr. Kalam 's popularity, the politicians are ignoring some fundamental shift that happened during his presidency. Dr. Kalam fundamentally changed they way people look at a Presidency from a mere ceremonial post to action and responsibility oriented post. From flying Sukois to submarine expedition to visiting Siachen he identified well with the common man. Dr. Kalam also effectively used his bully pulpit to interact with hundreds and thousands of students all over. I have seen him once amongst the young crowd and was amazed at the way in which he literally floored the crowd.

This is the kind of act that people have come to expect of their President and Mrs. Patil will be expected to perform. The little we have seen and heard of her doesn't give the confidence that she will be a peoples' President, but then who knows, she might surprise us all. Let's wait for that surprise.. Welcome Madam President.. looking forward to your great act.