Every five years, we have a circus played out for appointing someone as the President of India. A President who will live in the largest palace of the world to preside over nothing! Most of his time would be spent on touring places, providing lip service and cutting ribbons. Any assurance or promise he will ever offer will simply be a request to the elected government. Even the speeches he gives in the parliament or his addresses to the nation are not his own, they are written by the elected government. He just reads them! I do not intend to demean the office (or any of its honourable inhabitants) since it exists, but I really question this insistent waste of tax payers’ money to serve something largely useless.
What’s the history here? King George VI, the king of British India, was represented by his Governor General to govern India. There were constituent assemblies much like our current day parliament then too. But their purpose was to serve British interests and not Indian interests. Anyways, India got its independence on 15th August 1947 and under the leadership of Dr. B. R. Ambedkar, the constitution of India was re-drafted.
Largely adopted and adapted from the British administrative system. That administrative system had a King whereas, we fought over 200 years to get rid of one! Well! So we cannot have a King, but can certainly have his constitution. Now instead of cleaning up the whole muck and re-drafting the constitution, we simply replace the King as an administrative head of the government to what we now know as the President! While the King was tyrannical but the President (post) is useless. I won’t go into a full budget of such a position, but I am told the telephone bill of his palace alone is 60 lacs a year.
In reality all powers vested with the President are only customary. There are no real powers. He can veto a few laws for a while and pocket-veto (remain undecided and hold decisions) a few more, but can change nothing permanently. Whatever he accepts including ordinances require to be duly passed and accepted by the elected representatives of the people in specific time lines. And by the way he can propose nothing, it must come to him for consideration from the Government of the day!
Carrying over the then unlimited Veto powers of the British Monarchy under a alternate term of “President” and without any such powers was a thoughtless proposition. Was it done so as to quickly get a constitution in place without having to tamper with the tenants of British Administrative law or worst still think about newer or better ones? I don’t know really.
This also gets me to the subject of Rajya Sabha and its members. Why do we need a bicameral assembly? Why cannot the democratically elected Lok Sabha make the laws instead of a full additional layer of members in the Rajya Sabha who add nothing but delayed implementation of much needed laws. And not to forget while we already have a President to pay for, now we also need a vice president to preside over the Rajya Sabha!
Should I even talk about the Governors for each of the state and their palaces and entourage and the costs thereof? My opinions are strong, but show me some sense in this. To me this is the best retirement home one can have. Look at the list of its residents, and tell me if anyone did anything else after that. And while this has nothing to do with any of the residents in person, for some of the most respected sons of India held that office in the past and continue to hold it. It is merely talking about governance as a means to an end.