Sunday, 9 December 2007

Madam President, please set a precedent!

Pratibha Patil needs to visit her hometown at least five times a year. And so the till-now sleepy town will get a whopping Rs 400 crore airport soon. The place I’m talking about is Amravati in Maharashtra, some three hours from Nagpur which already has an airport.

There is nothing new in this. We all knew that Patil would never be able to come anywhere near the high ideals set by the previous occupant of the country’s glamourized but powerless office.

This again brings back us to the question if the President is required at all. Well, certainly the president is required. She, as Head of State, represents the country. She is the figurehead. The Prime Minister belongs to a party whereas the President is supposed to be ‘above party lines’. So, a President is very much required. But, is this sort of ostentatious expenditure required to support her office?

Amravati is in Maharashtra, a state infamous for its farmer suicides. There have been 30,000 suicides in one decade. The Vidarbha region, in which Amravati lies, is the worst affected, even leading to demands for a separate state of Vidarbha. Both the state and central governments have done precious little to tackle the problem of farmer suicides. However, they see nothing wrong in pledging Rs 400 crore for a new airport. The place does have an airstrip. It, by all means, is enough for a small private jet to land. In such a situation, is a new airport really required? Or does the President want to arrive in grand splendor with an entourage of jets?

In India, ostentatious spending by politicians is nothing new. We have numerous examples from across the political spectrum. So, one may ask, why single out the president? But, I firmly feel that it’s time the president set the precedent.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

definitely. the president must lead by example.