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The New President of India

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The President of the Indian Economic Trade Organization offers a primer on India’s new President. 

The life of Ram Nath Kovind, the new President of India, is a classic story of Dalit (lower caste) empowerment, one that is closely linked to the identity politics of the Hindi heartland in a time of rising caste-violence.  Mr. Kovind was always a low profile person with impeccable qualifications. Without a doubt, he will prove to be a competent man for India’s highest job.

Mr. Kovind was an uncontroversial pick for the position, and he has received wide-ranging support. The Indian people have embraced his election with open arms.

The BJP’s (India’s ruling party) choice of Kovind came at a time when Dalit groups in Uttar Pradesh are protesting the newly elected Yogi Adityanath administration, also a member of the BJP, because of the increasing number of atrocities committed against Dalits by upper castes vigilantes. Kovind was a strategic choice to help consolidate its Dalit support base in the run up to the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.

Ram Nath Kovind became the second Dalit President of India, after KR Narayanan, who served as President from 1997 to 2002.

But he should not be seen as a Dalit face anymore.

Zakir Hussian or Zail Singh were never remembered as Muslim and Sikh presidents, so why should Mr. Kovind be remembered as a Dalit president?

The new administration’s principle challenge would be to safeguard the Constitution without locking horns with the elected regime.

One of his most notable achievements as a local governor was establishing a judicial commission to probe irregularities in the promotion of undeserving teachers, mismanagement of funds, and appointment of undeserving candidates in universities.

Mr. Kovind served as the central government’s advocate in the Delhi High Court between 1977 and 1979. He was also standing counsel in the Supreme Court between 1980 and 1993. He was made Advocate-on-Record at the apex court in 1978 and continued his legal practice at the Delhi High Court and the Supreme Court till 1993.’

His humble beginnings show how his father, Maikulal Kori, eked out a living for his family of nine children by running a small grocery store. He learned his first lessons under the ancient Pipal tree.

Ram Nath Kovind developed Paraunkh into a “model village” using MP funds — paved roads, created a high school for girls, a State Bank of India branch, and ensured there were electricity meters in every house. He even donated his ancestral home to the village.

Mr. Kovind should bring the Rashtrapati Bhavan, the president’s residence, close to people, though he should keep himself away from appeasing any community like his predecessor, who used the Presidential residence to host parties. The President’s office is sacrosanct and must be kept so by upholding all rules of the Constitution.

Asif Iqbal is the president of the Indian Economic Trade Organization.

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