President must perform or quit
SIR, Let me congratulate Mr. Rajinder Puri for the excellent article, “Three Score & Seven” (15 August). If in the 67th year of Independence we begin to analyse what we have achieved, the only beneficiaries seem to be the politicians who are intent on violating all democratic norms to achieve whatever they want and punish upright officers be it Durga Shakti Nagpal or Ashok Khemka. They do not even hesitate to ignore a Supreme Court verdict by introducing legislation in Parliament. All political parties act in concert to rape the Constitution. The President, as a titular head, has to give consent to such machinations of the political class.
As Mr Puri has rightly pointed out, we the tax-paying citizens of India are paying for the maintenance of Rashtrapati Bhavan, its electricity bills and for the salary of the President, his foreign tours and the parties he hosts.
What are we getting in return? Are we maintaining a white elephant? It is time for the citizens to convey a clear message to the incumbent ~ either perform or quit. He must discharge his constitutional responsibilities, end the system of corruption, guard against subversion of the Constitution, and uphold the rule of law. Or, he must quit.
Yours, etc., P Chatterjee,
Kolkata, 16 August.
MODI’S I-DAY VIM
SIR, When compared with his maiden I-Day speech of 2004 after the UPA wrested power from the NDA, the Prime Minister&’s 10th consecutive address ~ which could well be his swan song ~ drew little by way of applause.
But then, in recent decades, Independence Day speeches have been decidedly repetitive, regardless of the speaker. While this holds true for this year too, the Gujarat Chief Minister, Narendra Modi&’s speech added an extra dash of colour to the national day proceedings. His campaign speech that followed the hoisting of the Tricolour is a forecast of the rough political weather ahead. National prestige cannot be sacrificed at the altar of competitive electoral politics. August 15 is best commemorated through a sober reflection on our strengths and shortcomings.
Yours, etc., JS Acharya,
Hyderabad, 16 August.
DILEMMA IN EGYPT
SIR, The deposition of President Morsi had thrown up a major debate on democracy and its essence. There is no doubt that there was a coup d`etat against the first democratically-elected President of Egypt. The coup, in whatever guise, is unacceptable and condemnable.
It sets Egypt back a great deal, squashes all hopes of genuine democracy in the Arab world&’s biggest nation. Above all, it has sparked a crisis, the end of which no one can determine. But the coup also threw up a dilemma given its backing by many Egyptians. Therefore, the question arises: can a supposed government of the people claim legitimacy when the people turn against it? Of course, for purists, and this is incontrovertible, removing a democratically-elected leader by any other means than the electoral process is wrong and unpardonable. However, a redemptive value in the experience of Egypt is that it has taught the world a simple but harsh lesson ~ democracy is not an end in itself but a means to an end. And when the ultimate end is not met, specifically the delivery of service to the people and inclusiveness, the risks are high and the price can be dear. A mandate has its limits and the Egyptians have even gone further to define it in clear terms.
A mandate has two facets ~ it must be provided democratically and it must represent the free will of the people. At the end of the day, it must fulfil the expectations of the people. Democracy offers scope for electoral rejection of the government should it fail to deliver. It is morally incumbent on the failed person to voluntarily hand over the mandate by resigning.
The alternative is the kind of chaos that has now engulfed Egypt. Governments are elected for the clear purpose of advancing the progress of society and its people. Once a government has shown its incapability to do so, the honourable path to tread is to resign and allow more capable hands to take over.
Yours, etc., Kurt Waschnig, Oldenburg (Germany),18 August.
SILLY, MR MINISTER
SIR, Information and Broadcasting Minister, Mr Manish Tewari, has suggested that the media industry should conduct a common examination for journalists to pass before they might be issued licences to pursue their profession. It is surprising that a proposal so silly should emanate from a politician who normally is so sensible. Arguably the most outstanding newspaper editor in post-independent India was the late S Mulgaokar. He had no degree after passing his matriculation examination. One wonders what he would have thought of this proposal. There were instances of great editors in Fleet Street who without higher education rose in journalism after starting as office boys. However, the impact on the quality of journalism imparted by the Minister&’s proposal is the least for which it should be criticized.
Mr Manish Tewari is also a distinguished lawyer. Surely he would know that the bedrock of democracy is provided by two fundamental freedoms ~ the freedom of expression and the freedom of association. Views and information may be expressed through the spoken or the written word. The right to disseminate these is what journalism is all about. Can this right be denied to anyone not holding a licence? Next, would Mr Tewari propose that nobody without a licence after passing a common examination may be allowed to participate in political activity that is sanctioned by the fundamental freedom of association?
One can sympathize with a government that is reeling from exposures and scandals. But to address the problem, the solution does not lie in attempts to control the media, but in controlling the actions of those who exercise authority.
Yours, etc., Rajinder Puri, New Delhi , 20 August.