State of Head of State

The Congress Party’s choice for President and current occupant of the Presidency, Shrimati Pratibha Patil has commenced a state visit to Spain and then Poland. This junket is supposedly set to further cement the mutually strong ties between India and Spain as well as between India and Poland. Since there was already a strong foundation, the question that remains unanswered is whether it was really necessary for the President and her entourage to visit these countries in person at the Indian taxpayers expense.

Under India’s current political system, the Indian Presidency is largely a ceremonial post although the former President Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam managed to infuse the post with additional prestige due to his distinguished background and personal charisma. Mr. NR Narayana Murthy, the founder of Infosys, would be a good candidate for the Presidency and would imbue the post with his experience and vision. The office of the Presidency should be occupied by leading figures in the public sphere representing business, science, the humanities or the arts.

Unfortunately, some of the office holders have been political appointees who did not necessarily fit the image that the public expects in a Head of State. When India is taking on a larger role on the world stage, it would also be appropriate for the Head of State to be a person, who is perceived to be above partisan politics and who also possesses the necessary background, experience, stature, personality and charisma.

The Prime Minister, as Head of Government, is already assuming more of the image and role of a Head of State on external visits. A radical approach that would save the taxpayers a sizable amount of money is by combining the roles of the President and the Prime Minister. The roles of Vice-President and Deputy Prime Minister would also be similarly combined. If this were taken a step further, there are some countries where there is a unicameral parliament and the Lok Sabha would serve the same purpose while the Rajya Sabha would become a part of India’s history like the erstwhile Raj.

Further savings for the taxpayers would result from scheduling elections at fixed intervals of every five years while limiting all politicians to two terms in office would ensure that the Indian populace would have a say in reducing the influence of dynastic families.

It is ironic that former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, who was instrumental in ending the Privy Purse for the Indian royal families in 1971, is now considered the second in a dynastic line of rulers (Prime Ministers). The fact that Rahul Gandhi can be widely touted as a future Prime Minster, just because he is the scion of the Gandhi family, speaks volumes of how little the Congress Party has progressed in the post-Independence era. If the Congress cannot wean itself from the Gandhi family, Congress can become an acronym for Children of Nehru Gandhi Rule Essential Supporting Sycophancy (CONGRESS).

Reducing the number of politicians eligible for the Special Protection Group (SPG) security detail will save some additional money as well as probably make it safer for those being protected. The terrorists attacking individual politicians would most likely want to focus on high-value targets and those not having a large SPG detail or not having a SPG detail at all would not be considered a high-value target.

Implementing the radical suggestions mentioned above for starters would ensure that the head of state was serving as a model for the rest of the nation in conserving taxpayers’ money and it would also ensure that the state was utilizing the money economically and was headed in the proper direction.


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