As parties out-Dalit each other, time to ask if we need a prez at all

By Shobhaa De – What the hell are these netas doing? What horrible games are they playing?

What will they tell the young of the nation when confronted?

That the next President of India will be appointed based solely on that dreaded ‘C-word’ — caste — forget any other qualification?

Caste has been India’s curse for centuries. Yes, of course we can’t wish it away. But surely we don’t have to brazenly endorse it and shamelessly manipulate caste issues in order to score political victories? As Indians, we desperately crave the watching world’s respect. We want India to be seated at the high table.

We talk about being a superpower. We send rockets into space and launch hundreds of satellites. We expect the world to gasp and applaud.

At the same time, we indulge in caste machinations of the lowest kind when it comes to the appointment of a person to the highest office in the land. We don’t feel embarrassed to openly discuss the ‘advantages’ of having a Dalit President. Without the slightest self-consciousness, we interject a ‘but’ into the dialogue (“Ram Nath Kovind is a Dalit, but…”). What does that significant ‘but’ even mean? Why is it there?

Both individuals come with impressive educational and professional credentials. Why not focus on those? Why harp on their Dalit identity? As if there is nothing more to them than being born Dalit.

The time has come to seek a pan-India opinion poll on the vexing issue of continuing with this outdated and archaic ceremonial job.

Do we need a President at all? more>

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