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MPS RAMANI (Scientist/Engineer)     26 May 2012

Is not perpetuity against democracy?

George Washington was the first president of the United States of America. He was also known as Father of the American Nation, just as Mahatma Gandhi was known as the Father of the Indian Nation, though there was a lot of difference.


George Washington was first sworn in as President in the year 1789. When his term ended in 1793 he wanted to retire. But he was held in so much esteem and regard that many wanted him to be president for a second term. He agreed on the condition that he would definitely retire in 1797. John Adams was elected the second President in 1797. He stood for a second term in 1800 (for 1801), but lost to Thomas Jefferson, who served two terms till 1809. He did not contest election again though there was no bar on his contesting any number of times. Presidents that followed Thomas Jefferson stuck to the convention until 1940. In November, 1940, President Roosevelt had already served two terms from 1933. But he contested again for a third term breaking the convention followed till then, stating World War II as the reason. He won the election. Again in 1944 he stood for election for a fourth term from 1945 and won stating the same reason. In April, 1945 the war in Europe ended. As though it was destiny Roosevelt also died in April, 1945.


Afterwards in 1952 the American Constitution was amended limiting the terms of a person for Presidency to two. It was the twenty-second amendment. Later Eisenhower lamented that,  by limiting the number of terms a person can contest to two, the  second term of a President became a lame duck term. Is that so? Does a person aspire to become President to enjoy the position or to serve the people?    Limiting the number of terms is intended to encourage persons who really wanted to serve the people and to eliminate power seekers.


Some exceptions have been provided to equality under Articles 15 and 16 of the Constitution of India, with respect to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. Such exceptions were extended to other backward castes also later. The justification for such discrimination was that those lower castes were oppressed for such a long time, that now they needed special consideration so that they could come up and equal the upper castes. Assuming that this premise is correct, with such support they would no more need reservations after some time. In other words, all reservations should be close ended with an expiry date. Before the expiry date there should be a review and a purposeful decision based on the findings whether to continue the reservations or not and the Parliament should vote on it. This exercise should be repeated every, say, 15 or 20 years until it was found that reservations were no more necessary. Permanent discriminations are against the principle of equality enshrined in the Constitution.


Similarly for MP’s, MLA’s, Chief Ministers, Prime Minister and cabinet ministers, the number of terms a person can serve, should also be limited. In the USA, thereto unknown persons become President every 4 or 8 years. In India potential leaders permanently remain in the oblivion. Those in power remain permanently in power until death and develop a vested interest.


An environment in which new persons can aspire to come to high positions should be created.

 2 Replies

Prasun Chandra Das (Banker)     29 May 2012

I do not agree. What is wrong with perpetuity in a democratic setup? After all, the existing politician only gets a perpetual chance to stand for election - it does not guarantee his election by the electorate. Perpetuity will seem wrong if we only look into the bad cases (I agree the bad cases far outweigh the good ones). Think of E.Sreedharan - the man behind the Delhi Metro. If you ask Delhites, I think all would say that let Mr Sreedharan perpetually be In-Charge of Delhi Metro. Similar examples could be Dr APJ Abdul Kalam in missile systems, and Dr.Verghese Kuiren of Amul for his contribution in Milk revolution. Think of an honest politician, who has all the right intentions, and has already done terrific work in his constituency as an elected representative. By limiting the no.of times he can seek election in a public service/politics role, we would be limiting his ability and desire to contribute to the cause of his constituency. After his term ends and he cannot stand for election again, the people in his constituency may not find any man worthy enough to fill in his shoes.


As for quota, it has become a tool for vote bank politics. I watched the Times Channel debate with Arnab Goswami at 9 PM on 28.5.12, and it was very interesting to hear the different viewpoints. I think that quotas are necessary, and as and when the conditions of underprivileged improve, it should be done away with. But realistically, to measure this in a practical, complex, diverse India is a virually impossible task. The villains will ensure that money/schemes for the improvement of the downtrodden are siphoned off, and so after 100 years also, studies will show that people are still downtrodden and so should be coming under quota system. This is a vicious cycle and it is very unlikely that quota systems will ever be dispensed with. 


MPS RAMANI (Scientist/Engineer)     29 May 2012

See persons like Mr. Karunanidhi and Ms. Jayalalitha. Both are corrupt to the core. But they alternate between themselves as though there is a secret  understanding. Having been elected once or more than once the masses know only them  as leaders. There will be many other honest persons. But they do not get a chance. The same is with dynasty rule. If a person becomes famous once, he or his discendents only continue. The masses get mesmerised. They do not want to try a chance with a new person.

E. Shreedharan, Dr. Verghese Kurien, Dr. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam etc were not elected representatives. They were appointed based on peer evaluation. For these three good persons, there are at least 30 pretenders, who come to high positions not because of their achievements or merit, but for "other reasons". I knew many of them personally. Dr. Kurien was said to be responsible for the white revolution in India. But don't tell me Dr. M. S. Swaminathan was the father of the green revolution. In any case I am not talking of appointed persons, but elected politicians.

To say that reservations are products of vote bank politics is to simplify things. There was so much propaganda before and after independence that it has created a mindset.  Such mindsets are there the world over. For instance supporting blacks in countries where white population is in majority.

Late Viswanath Pratap Singh did not have much love for the Other Backward Classes. The Mandal Report was gathering dust. Then in a political move to protect his chair he implemented the Mandal report. Still that did not save him. But once having publicly committed himself he could not go backwards. Thus he became a champion of the OBC's.

All these so called balancing laws should be subject to periodic review. Let vote bank politics work. Still the MP's must be forced to do periodic review. If the Constitution makes exceptions to the concept of equality, there should have been also a rider to treat them as temporary measures.

People all over the world have suffered under invincible tyrants. But death of the tyrant saved them ultimately.

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