ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Presidential (Im)propriety

This letter is written in the hope that it will provoke discussion on an important issue. Is the President of India not expected to project a secular and neutral image as far as public religious observance is concerned? The question is raised in a specific context. On 27 July, the President visited Mysore. His only official engagement in the city was the inauguration of the centenary celebrations of the University of Mysore. The meeting was scheduled to commence at 3 pm and the guests were asked to be seated an hour before. However, the President after reaching the city drove to the shrine of Chamundeshwari to offer pooja. He arrived at the venue of the function, the open-air theatre of the university, 45 minutes late. Leave aside the discourtesy to the audience; the more important question is whether the President should visit a shrine, indeed any place of worship, on an official visit. Would it not be healthy for the head of state to follow a convention that she/he will not demonstrate any religious affiliation while in office? The President should be like the speaker who is deemed to have no party affiliation. This cannot be legislated but surely there should be a precedent.

V K Natraj

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