India Uncut

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Saturday, April 15, 2006

Amartya Sen for president

Ram Guha makes the case here.

Sen would certainly be a vast improvement on some of the gentlemen who have held this ceremonial post, and that reason -- Guha's first one -- is enough for me. His four other reasons seem contrived.

His second reason is that Sen as president would "be good for India’s image abroad." Come, come, I think India's large markets and strategic positioning in South Asia are attractive enough for the outside world, we really don't need softsell.

Guha's third reason is that Sen would "be the perfect bridge between the two most important forces currently in Indian politics — the Congress and the parliamentary left." Well, the Left has just 60 out of 543 seats in the 14th Lok Sabha, and its importance comes about because of the way the coalitions have formed themselves. They've held up crucial reforms at the centre, and are a largely destructive force, except in the state of West Bengal, where being in power has led them to behave fairly responsibly. One hopes that their importance will diminish to reflect their popular support (or rather, the relative lack of it) by the next elections. What the country needs is not a bridge between the Congress and the Left, but a break.

Guha's fourth reason isn't clearly stated in the article, and I couldn't figure out what it was, unless he's saying that the presidentship would be good for Sen personally. Why should that be a concern of ours?

The fifth reason is that it would be good for Bengal. As a half-Bengali (and therefore a quarter-wit, as I like to joke), let me say that any self-respecting Bengali would be affronted by that statement. Bengal doesn't need Amartya Sen to do well for itself. (And no, we are not going to discuss Sourav Ganguly now. Shoo!)

But I support Guha's assertion that Sen would make an ideal president. One reason is good enough for that, and there's no need to find four more.
amit varma, 3:49 PM| write to me | permalink | homepage

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