ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846
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From 50 Years Ago: Room at the Top


From 50 Years Ago



Vol IV, No 19 may 10, 1969

Room at the Top

Zakir Husain’s induction into political office, first as Governor of Bihar, then as Vice-President and, finally, as President, owed as much to his long and consistent record of integrity and selfless service as to the fact that he was one of the few select Muslims available to symbolise the secular aspirations of Indian democracy … While his nationalism was never in doubt, Zakir did not revel in the title of “nationalist Muslim”, nor was he ever a member or office-bearer of the Congress… In all the formal and even the sincere tributes paid to him, no one has cared to emphasise that he, rightly, shed no part of his Muslimness as an individual and saw no reason to do so while he rose to the highest office. This was a much needed demonstration — even if it provoked some fanatics to launch undignified attacks on him — that a Muslim’s loyalty to his country was perfectly compatible with the pursuit of his religion and with unwillingness to join in hysterical ­outbursts against Pakistan. There is, thanks to Zakir, the consolation that there is room at the top for honest men…

The term of the new President will, for the first time, straddle the general election due in 1972, which is what raises the spectre of the incumbent being possibly the PM-maker in that year. This hope or fear reflects the extent to which faith in parliamentary processes and government has been eroded. What logic is there in the expectation that solutions for a political disequilibrium would be found in Rashtrapathi Bhavan rather than on the floor of the Lok Sabha?

Updated On : 14th May, 2019


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