Pratibha Devisingh Patil has given her farewell gift to the nation — her last speech as Rashtrapati.
On the assumption that the nation was largely busy with other things (Sherlyn Chopra’s press conference about her Playboy debut, for example) we at Firstpost.com bring you our handy guide to Patil’s swan song.
So many people have been beating up on Pratibha Patil as she makes her exit one almost starts feeling sorry for her. At least the presidency was smooth if lacklustre. She signed no midnight proclamations of Emergency. A desire for a nice bungalow and a penchant for globetrotting are hardly mortal sins in the scheme of things.
The last speech makes it clear that we, this commentator included, completely misunderstood Pratibha Patil. Our president was not just traveling the world to the tune of Rs 205 crore. She was keenly following the travails of her countrymen. She had her finger on our pulse. She was watching the rise of the Mamatas and Mulayams (“Elections are now bringing in Governments that are mostly coalitions”). She is alarmed by Guwahati. (“Instances of violence against women are very disturbing.”) She forgot nobody in the speech – students, armed forces, farmers, drug addicts, Gandhi. She even said something about the “cycle of debt and poverty” proving that she felt our pain. Cynics will call it a banal recitation of what we all know already.
But they are wrong. Like Durga herself, she takes on various avatars, in the course of one soporific speech, to combat different foes.
The Anna avatar
You thought that Patil was blissfully ignoring Anna’s anti corruption crusade, that just because three generations of her family was going off on foreign jaunts, Patil was tone-deaf to the anti-corruption mood sweeping the country? Think again. Here’s Patil out Anna-ing Anna.
(Dear Citizens) I am sure you will not fail in building a strong, progressive, cohesive and corruption-free India. Corruption is the enemy of development, and of good governance. It must be got rid of.
The Aamir avatar
Pratibha Patil must have been watching Satyamev Jayate religiously. On Doordarshan naturally. She knows Aamir Khan has captured the heart of the nation. She too is moved and seething with righteous indignation. Notice the “deep” distress – that’s borderline apoplectic in Patil-speak.
It is a matter of deep distress that, even today, social evils that stagnate the growth of our country, in so many ways, continue to exist — dowry and child marriage, the practice of female foeticide and female infanticide which are causing a lop-sided gender-ratio.
The Jai Kisan avatar
The farmer, we have heard, has disappeared from Indian discourse. Other than sporadic reports on farmer suicides, no one pays attention to rural India. Except for Pratibha Patil.
A paradigm shift, where, in addition to, physical inputs for farming, a focused emphasis placed on knowledge inputs, can be a promising way forward. This knowledge based approach will bring immense returns particularly in Rainfed and Dryland farming areas.
Ok, that was a little technical for most of us city-slickers. But Patil was on a roll here. She had more for our farmer brothers.
Farmers also need to be empowered and their bargaining abilities enhanced, so that they deal with other sectors, whether for procuring inputs, or for marketing and processing their output, with confidence.
The Deepak Chopra avatar
Deepak Chopra preaches his gospel of humanism and touchy-feely spirituality to the West. Now the family Chopra has their own Youtube channel to spread the good word. Anything Chopra can do Patil can do sweeter. She had her own unique message of “love, sympathy and tolerance” for her citizens.
India has a long tradition of tolerance and harmony, because of the very nature of its society, which is multi-cultural, multi-lingual, multi-religious and multi-ethnic.
Or how about this?
Negative attitudes spread cynicism and despair, which is not in the interest of our country.