Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Stop politics over the President - Col Ripu Daman Singh

Presidential Politics - An article by Col. Ripu Daman Singh
18 July, 2012
Pictures and Videos: Amar Singh Jyani, GS Mann.
Stop politics over the President?
 The present politics over the forthcoming election of the President of India is unhealthy. It is neither good for democracy nor for the spirit of the nation. President of India is the highest office of the country, and a symbol of nation’s pride and strength. He is a father figure, a symbol of hope, and best the nation stands for. That is why when we think of Dr Rajendra Prasad, Dr  Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, Dr Neelam Samjeeva Reddy, Dr K R Narayanan etc, our heads bow in  natural respect and awe. They did proud to their office, made constructive contributions, and lived much beyond self.

 By dragging the election process or the Presidential candidate into controversy, we are reflecting ourselves in a poor light to the world, if we call ourselves as an emerging world power. The BJP has not covered itself with glory by alleging that the signature on Mr Pranab Mukherjee’s resignation letter to the Indian Statistical Institute was forged. Whether he be elected or not, we cannot doubt a man of Pranab’s standing, who has devoted over 40 years of his life to the nation.  What lesson are we giving to our children, who will be learning an essay on India’s President, tomorrow?

I am reminded of our joint family at home in a village in Haryana when I was young, and for that matter even today. Every one respects the head of the family, be it father or the grandfather. No one ridicules him or questions his authority. He is the one who cares for everyone, and keeps the family together. Such a discipline and decorum is necessary to maintain the institution of joint families, which provides security and guidance to the young. It is a rich tradition of our country to respect the elders. Today, if crimes are increasing,  young going astray, and relations falling apart, it is because of the break up the joint families. We have become too self engrossed and materialistic. And may I say, too politicised.

Let me give you another example of how politics, as pursued in a greedy manner, has vitiated  our rural life. There was a time till about 1970s/80s, when people in villages rarely went to the police or the courts to settle their domestic disputes. The buck stopped at the village elder or the Sarpanch. Both the parties were heard, and the village Panchayat, after due consideration, always gave a fair judgement. People abided by it. It saved so much of time, harassment, and money of poor farmers. Today, the same Panchayat has become party based, and politicised. People have lost faith in their impartiality. A Panchayat spends lacs, if not crores to get elected. And once elected, he makes the profit out of funds allotted for the village development. That is why only a portion of the money sanctioned by the govt for various poverty alleviation and rural development programmes (like  NREGA, Indira Vikas Yojna, National Rural Health Scheme, Rajiv Gandhi Gramin Vidyutikaran Yojna, Rural Sports Stadiums, Sarv Shiksha Abhiyan  etc.) reach the  poor. If one party has started a project in a village, and another party comes to power before it is completed, in all probability, the project will get stalled. Where you have the MLA and MP of the ruling party, it will be like a green patch in the field, and where they are of the opposition party, it will be a dry patch. It is a ground reality, a negative side of politics.
Do we want to drag the President’s office into such dirty politics?  We will do so at our own cost. Whether it is Pranab Mukherjee or P A Sangma, once elected, it is the institution of the President that would matter more than the individual. Both of them are outstanding Indians, with known credentials. So, let the system function work and we stop playing politics over their election. It is setting a bad precedence. It is also in bad taste. May the best person win and do proud to the august office.

Colonel R D Singh is a decorated soldier, and presently a  life member of  INTACH,  Blood Bank Society, Chandigarh, and writes regularly for the HT and The Tribune.  He belongs to village Pilimandori (Fatehabad), and writes regularly for news papers, and  Sirsa News.

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