Monday, July 23, 2007

Idiotic Comments On India's New President

The Pakistan Observer has derided India's election of its first woman president as an act of tokenism since the post is mostly cermonial. Yes, the election of a woman president is indeed symbolic, but it's a powerful one; and it resonates loudly to the world that India is a democracy, no matter how flawed it is.

It's not suprising that The Pakistan Observer is saying this. It is one of the mostly stridently nationalistic and jingoistic newspapers in Pakistan. And spares no chance to malign India. It has carried water for every regime, democratic or non-democratic. And like many papers of its ilk, it mistastes facts and makes sweeping generalizations.

The office of the President is, therefore, rotated amongst deprived segments of the society in an effort to remove their sense of alienation. That is why India has both Sikh and Muslim presidents. But their election could not bring about any change in pitiable conditions of Muslims and Sikhs, who are considered as second rate citizens. The outgoing President Abdul Kalam is also a Muslim, elected to the top slot also in recognition of his contribution to the Indian nuclear and missile programme, but his bid to get second term was rebuffed by the ruling Congress party that wanted one of its loyalist as president.

Sikhs are doing well, economically and politically. In fact, the prime minister, Manmohan Singh, is a Sikh. I'm sure this fact didn't escape The Pakistan Observer's notics. As for Abdul Kalam, he is leaving on his own volition. And given the fact that he is extremely popular and a Muslim (and thus "a second rate citizen,"), it is only natural that Congress would've liked him to stay on; if anything, to pamper its communal credentials.

There is one question I would like to pose to The Pakistan Observer, though: can a non-Muslim ever be a president in Pakistan? According to its constitution-- no!