Libmonster ID: IN-1321
Author(s) of the publication: E. YURLOVA

Kocheril Raman Narayanan was elected the tenth President of India on July 25, 1997, just days before the country celebrated its 50th anniversary of independence.

The unanimous election of Narayanan to the post of President by representatives of all political parties in both houses of Parliament and in the legislative assemblies of all 26 states indicates, first of all, their recognition of the highest moral, spiritual and ideological merits and qualities of this person, his outstanding abilities and remarkable intelligence.

A significant part of Narayanan's adult life coincided with the last stage of the struggle for Indian independence and the country's half-century-long movement to the status of one of the world's great powers. From the Kerala village of Uzhavur, where he was born in 1920, to the presidential Palace - Rashtrapati Bhavan in Delhi - Narayanan literally walked with his homeland. It was a difficult time to find new ideas for the development of Indian society and the state, taking into account the traditional features of this huge country. After graduating from the University of Travancore (now Kerala), he continued his studies at the London School of Economics. Then he worked as a university lecturer, and later as a journalist for major newspapers "Hindu " and"Times of India". Literary and journalistic work has always been an important part of his life. To this day, President Narayanan is a regular contributor to newspapers and magazines on the most pressing issues of the country and society.

Narayanan has devoted more than 35 years to diplomatic activities. Over the years, he has worked in many countries in Europe, Asia, America, as well as in Australia. He has represented India as an ambassador to four countries, including China and the United States. He held the latter post from 1980 to 1984, after retiring from the foreign service and serving for two years as Vice-Chancellor of Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi. The post of Ambassador to the United States of America was not a career appointment, but a political one that took into account Narayanan's great achievements in the international arena.

His subsequent active involvement in politics was quite logical. Three times-in 1984, 1989 and 1991, he was elected a member of the People's (lower) House of Parliament, and served as State Minister of the Government (Planning, Foreign Affairs, Science and Technology). In 1992, Narayanan became Vice President of India.

According to a number of Indian observers, the current president of India has shown himself to be a modern political figure, which is reflected in a departure from some of the traditional behavior patterns of his predecessors. So, he changed the behavioral stereotype that was typical for those who held this post: on equal terms with other citizens, together with his wife, he joined the general queue at the ballot box during parliamentary elections. President Narayanan began to publicly express his thoughts and thoughts on major issues of public life. He makes extensive use of television interviews and press appearances. With his position on a number of important issues (on the introduction of presidential rule in the state of Bihar in September 1998, the appointment of judges of the Supreme Court of India), the current president has shown that he does not just draw up or "stamp" government decisions, but solves problems based on his competence as the guarantor of the constitution.

RIGHTS AND POWERS OF THE PRESIDENT

According to the Constitution of the Republic of India, the President is the Chief Executive and has extensive powers. He is elected by elected members of both Houses of Parliament and legislative assemblies of all states of the country for a term of five years. This election procedure also explains that the President is not responsible to the Parliament (except in cases where the Parliament can impeach him for violating the Constitution). Such an accusation may be brought by either house of Parliament, but in each case the case is heard in a different chamber. If, as a result of the investigation, at least two-thirds of the total number of members of the relevant chamber adopt a resolution stating that the accusation has been confirmed, this entails the removal of the President from office. Note that for half a century of independent India, there has not been a single case of impeachment of the president.

The President has the right of legislative initiative and the right of veto. He has the right to convene both houses of Parliament, close their sessions, and dissolve the People's Chamber. During the period between sessions of Parliament, the President has the right to issue emergency decrees with the force of law. However, these decrees must be submitted to both Houses of Parliament and automatically terminate upon the expiration of six weeks from the date of convocation of Parliament or if both houses rejected the presidential decrees.

The President has the right to declare a state of emergency in a country if its security is threatened by war, external aggression, or internal unrest. The state of emergency is valid for two months without parliamentary approval. In a state of emergency, all functions related to the exercise of rights are transferred to the executive branch. Over the past 50 years, a state of emergency in India has been declared once - in the mid-70s.

The President appoints the Prime Minister and Government Ministers on the advice of the Prime Minister. The Council of Ministers is collectively responsible for-

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vennosti before the People's Chamber of Parliament. Under the Constitution, the Council of Ministers provides assistance and advice to the President, who acts in accordance with them in the performance of his functions. However, the President may require the Government to review the recommendations. But after that, he will be obliged in any case to act on the advice of the Government1 .

This practice causes serious discussions in society. Some believe that the president should perform a role similar to that of the English monarch, that is, be the nominal head of state. Others believe that the president enjoys much broader powers than the nominal head of state, can and should be more active in solving the country's political problems than it has been so far.

The fact that no political party has been able to achieve an absolute majority in Parliament in recent years adds further urgency to these discussions. Therefore, a culture of political coalitions has gradually developed in India. However, in a multi-religious, multi-ethnic and multi-caste society, such government coalitions are not always stable enough and are often forced to resign before the five-year term set by the Constitution expires. So, only from 1996 to the present, the country has changed four governments. Of these, three were during Narayanan's tenure as president. It is clear that in such conditions the role of the president is objectively increasing. And by law, he is one of the guarantors of the country's unity. The frequent change of governments in the center contributes to the fact that the press began to widely discuss ideas about the need to change the parliamentary form of government to a presidential one, in which the president would have all the powers of the chief executive. 2 All this, of course, is not directly related to the current president, but it cannot but influence the nature of his activities.

Narayanan himself outlined his principled views on the role of the President as follows: "There is no doubt that the people perceive the elected president as a person who has a certain power in governing the country. He can justify his status only by giving advice or such suggestions to the Cabinet of Ministers as he deems necessary before the Cabinet makes its decisions. However, after that, the president must act in accordance with the decisions of the government, regardless of whether his advice was taken into account or not." Thus, President Narayanan sees himself in this position as a traditional head of state, who gives advice to the government, as if being out of political conflicts and conflicts. And it is quite successful.

Apparently, it was not by chance that Narayanan chose the first president of India, Rajendra Prasad, as a role model. R. Prasad was a prominent political figure and one of Gandhi's closest associates. Gandhi, who was fond of figurative language, once said of him: "There is at least one person in the world who would not hesitate to accept a cup of poison from my hands." As the Chairman of the Constituent Assembly, R. Prasad made a huge contribution to the creation of the Constitution of India and to the development of a model of behavior for senior officials, including the chairmen of Parliament and state legislatures. It is noteworthy that Narayanan refers to the assessment that Nehru gave to the first president. "According to Nehru, Rajendra Prasad approved a model of political behavior that promoted the growth of India's dignity and honor. He was a living example of how India should preserve its identity and at the same time embrace new ideas. It has essentially become a symbol of India. " 3

Of course, the first one is always the first, including the president or Prime Minister of the country. They have a special responsibility to lead the way into the unknown future. It is fair to say that the post of President of India was held by outstanding state, political and public figures who had passed a long, challenging life path, were distinguished by high moral, spiritual and intellectual qualities, who put the interests of the country and the people above group or private considerations. At the same time, each of these top officials worked in different conditions than their predecessors, faced new challenges that required a fundamental assessment of their compliance with the Constitution and the development of ideas and mechanisms to overcome newly emerging problems and difficulties.

Narayanan has also done a lot of this work, as he holds this post at a critical time for the country, when vital issues of socio-economic and democratic development are being addressed during the economic reform that began in 1991. At the same time, India, like many other countries, has to meet the demands of the times associated with the end of the cold war and the construction of a new world order. All these problems are in the orbit of the President's attention, who is actively contributing both to the management of the country and to increasing its authority in the world community.

NATIONAL UNITY AND DEMOCRACY

In his address to the nation on January 25, 2000, on the occasion of the Golden Jubilee of the Republic, President Narayanan called the ability of the Indian State and society to preserve the unity and integrity of the country a matter of pride and merit. "For the first time, we have managed to give economic substance to our dream of unity, which for many centuries has stirred the minds of many Indians. We have been able to establish close economic ties between different parts of India only because we have always relied on our cultural values, traditions of tolerance, our diverse culture and secularism. All of this, combined with our social and economic development efforts, has helped us maintain the unity of the country."

Another great achievement of independent India, Narayanan said, was the establishment of a democratic system of government with the separation of powers and accountability of the executive branch to Parliament.

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An essential feature of Indian democracy is the functioning of panchayats, a traditional form of elected self-government in villages where the majority of the population lives. The establishment of democratic institutions at the grassroots level has resulted from the creation of numerous non-governmental organizations that contribute to the development of civil society in the country.

More than 600 million Indian citizens enjoy the right to vote and be elected to central and state legislatures, as well as local governments. India is rightfully considered the largest democratic country in the world, where an average of 50 to 60 percent of voters participate in elections of various levels. This is a high figure for any democratic country. Universal suffrage, combined with the efforts of society and the State to widely involve the lower social strata and women in political life, has given a new quality to Indian democracy. The role of each individual has grown significantly.

A particular threat to democracy not only in India, but also in many other countries, including Russia, is the penetration of criminal elements into government structures. Narayanan has repeatedly expressed concern about this issue and blamed it on political parties. He believes that they should take decisive measures to block the participation of criminals in the elections.

The President of India calls the revolution in grain production a fundamental success during the years of independence, which allowed the country to achieve self-sufficiency in food. In the same row, he sees a doubling of the average life expectancy of Indians. Among the achievements of the country in recent years, he attributes a very high rate of development (more than six percent annually) based on a policy of self-sufficiency. This rate puts India in the top ten fastest-growing countries in the world. In many areas of economic life, it acts as a major industrial and technological power that claims to be an economic giant in the XXI century.

However, progress along this path is hindered by the unresolved huge socio-economic problems. First of all, it is the poverty of more than a third of the country's billion-strong population and the same level of illiteracy. The development of economic and social infrastructure - energy supply, road construction, providing the entire population with clean drinking water, and creating a health system accessible to ordinary people-is an acute issue.

PUBLIC CONSCIOUSNESS IS THE MOST UNYIELDING MATERIAL FOR REFORM

In his speeches, President Narayanan constantly addresses issues of social justice and equality. Again and again, he draws public attention to the situation of women and the so-called backward classes. Various forms of discrimination against them have not yet been eliminated. In fact, the well - known truth is once again confirmed: the most difficult and unyielding material for reform is public consciousness. The Constitution's "social, economic and political justice and equality" is still a pipe dream for millions of Indian citizens, Narayanan says. "The benefits of economic growth don't reach them. India has one of the world's largest capacities for engineering and technical workers, but also the largest number of illiterates. India has the largest middle class in the world, but it also has the largest number of poor people, as well as a large number of children suffering from malnutrition. Our giant factories and factories sprout up amidst the abomination of desolation and garbage, our satellites soar into space from places surrounded by the miserable hovels of the poor. " 4

The President notes with bitterness that when carrying out economic reforms in the country, " their social aspects are ignored." Of the social problems, he highlights two as the most urgent and demanding solutions. The first is the status of women, which the President calls "our greatest national flaw." The second is the situation of the Dalits (formerly untouchable castes, or registered castes), which he dubbed "our greatest national disgrace."

As for the first problem, according to the President of India, even half a century after the introduction of the constitution, the female part of the population is still treated in the same way as in the XVIII and XIX centuries. Despite the fact that the practice of "sati" (self-immolation of a widow on the funeral pyre of her late husband) was legally abolished more than 170 years ago, from time to time this shameful custom makes itself felt. And worst of all, there are people who try to explain it as "suicide" or even as "holy sacrifice." But what is most alarming is the lack of public discussion on this issue. President Narayanan quotes Gandhi on the issue of gender inequality: "You cannot have one set of weights and measures for some people and another for others. And yet no one has ever heard of a widowed husband throwing himself into the funeral pyre of his dead wife." As long as the status of women in Indian society does not change, Narayanan is convinced that the equality referred to in the constitution will remain meaningless. Hence the need for strong measures aimed at ensuring women's equality. This, in particular, would be met by the adoption of a law introducing a women's quota for one third of the seats in the country's legislative bodies.

The President of India also calls on the public to pay serious attention to the problems of registered castes and tribes, which number almost 250 million people. Although social discrimination on the basis of untouchability was abolished by law, its remnants remained in habits deeply rooted in the public consciousness. The constitutional provision on quotas of places for registered castes and tribes in educational institutions and in the civil service is not fully implemented due to bureaucratic and administrative violations. (For example, in 1999 alone, about one million jobs covered by the quota were left unfilled on the pretext that "there were not enough qualified Dalits available for them" 5 )

One gets the impression, says the President, that a counter-revolution is taking place in the social sphere. Must not

page 49


We should forget that these privileges were granted to vulnerable groups not as charity, but as human rights and as an element of social justice. We are talking about the part of society that makes up a large proportion of the Indian population and contributes to the development of agriculture, industry and services. It seems, Narayanan states, that the Indian privileged class is "tired" of implementing the constitutionally mandated affirmative action against these social groups. Warning of the dangers of such an approach, the President insists on helping the weak strata. * Otherwise, he says, as B. R. Ambedkar, a recognized Dalit leader and one of the founders of the constitution, once rightly pointed out, "the entire edifice of our democracy will be like a palace built on a dunghill." Laws aimed at improving the situation of Dalits will remain "dead", and Dalits themselves will be deprived of what they are entitled to under these laws, Narayanan believes, if there is no reorientation in the social views of all members of the administrative apparatus, if a significant number of Dalits are deprived of their rights. Dalits will not be involved in working at various levels of government, including the police and the army.

The Indian press sometimes criticizes the current president's "excessive enthusiasm" for the Dalit problem, and hints are made at his caste origin. But Narayanan himself stands above these prejudices. So, when asked by a correspondent of one of the TV companies whether he suffered from being a Dalit, Narayanan directly and frankly answered:: "Of course, if you're a Dalit, you can't avoid being treated appropriately by the rest of society. This is a harsh fact of Indian life. I would say that in such cases I felt morally superior to those who did so. So I didn't have any complexes. " 6

Narayanan speaks about the huge regional and social inequality caused by the uneven development of the economy, as a result of which the masses are growing deaf dissatisfaction with the state of affairs in the country. "The cause of much social unrest,"he writes," is a disregard for the position of the lower strata of society, whose discontent is directed along the path of violence." Since "the problems facing India are very large and explosive in nature," it is absolutely necessary to use peaceful methods to solve them. Ultimately, Narayanan believes, the question of using violence is related to whether the society will be able to find a mechanism for peaceful solutions to problems that have accumulated over time. Most of all, he emphasizes, this will depend on "whether there will be counter-revolutionary violence on the part of the haves and privileged strata against the have-nots."

Today, violence in society is largely linked to economic reform, which dramatically improves the situation of a minority of the population, while the living conditions of the majority deteriorate. The Nouveau Riche's vulgar fascination with limitless consumption and rampant advertising of such consumption plunge the poor and poor into a state of apathy. Noting the shortcomings of the economic reform, the President emphasizes that it did not take care of the needs and aspirations of the weak strata of society, did not bring them relief. The situation needs to be rectified so that "our fast three-lane highway of liberalization, privatization and globalization has pedestrian crossings for the vulnerable and powerless part of the Indian population."

According to Narayanan, the main method of peaceful resolution of social conflicts and contradictions is laid down in the Indian past. If Mao Zedong believed that to correct the wrong, you should go beyond the usual, and gave the example of the curve of a bamboo stick, to align which you need to bend it several times in the opposite direction, then Narayanan refers to the legacy of Buddha, Gandhi, Nehru and Ambedkar, who chose the path of nonviolence. It is not necessary, he says, "to bend a bamboo stick too much or even break it to correct the wrong in society. But to correct the evil in a peaceful way is possible only if... all the organized power and will of society will work together to solve this problem in time. " 7

In the future, the unity, stability and progress of India will largely depend on improving the socio-economic situation of the traditionally belittled segments of the population. They have been cut off from the mainstream of social and political life for centuries. Bridging the existing gap is important not only for them, but also for the rest of society, otherwise full unity of the country will remain an unattainable ideal.

THE END OF THE COLD WAR AND GLOBALIZATION

"India has always had its vision of the world and its message to the world," President Narayanan said in a speech to Parliament on August 15, 1997, on the occasion of the country's 50th anniversary of independence. "It has played a key role in international relations and has every right to be represented in the central organs of the United Nations. Even at the dawn of our civilization, we believed that the world is one, and humanity is one family. In the dark and brutal days of the cold War, Nehru maintained precisely this vision of peace when he advocated a policy of non-alignment and peaceful coexistence. "8

By refusing to join a particular bloc, Narayanan believes, and through its efforts to reconcile these blocs, India has made a significant contribution to ending the cold war. An important role in this process was also played by the fact that India and China were co-authors of the five principles of peaceful coexistence, which became a kind of code of conduct in international relations. Such principles as respect for the territorial integrity and independence of States, non-interference in their internal affairs, mutual benefit and equality in relations between countries remain important in the era of globalization.

The end of the cold war did not end all conflicts, it only changed their nature. India, like the rest of the world, is going through a period of crisis. A new pluralistic order has emerged. However, there are still signs that strong developed countries are trying to push weak and developing countries, which account for two-thirds of the world's population, to the periphery of history. Real disarmament and a world without weapons remain a distant dream, Narayanan says.

Modern globalization is conceptually not objectionable for Indians. The current president also speaks about this, believing that such a development corresponds to the spirit of Indian philosophy. However, indium-


* According to the Constitution, women, registered castes, tribes, and other backward groups are included among the "weak strata of the population".

page 50


They do not believe that globalization should be above the interests of the individual, the family, or the State. These basic institutions have been developed by humanity for centuries and retain their unique identity and vitality in the global community. An ideal world order essentially presupposes individual, national, and cultural identity and loyalty.

Globalization does not mean subjugation and infringement of national sovereignty or social and cultural identity. Therefore, India does not accept theories like "the end of history", "the end of geography" or "the clash of civilizations". The Indian concept of peace is to reconcile and harmonize personal and public interests, as well as cultural and national identity, within a broader pluralistic order.

The end of the cold war and the process of globalization have brought geo-economic factors to the fore. Industrialized Countries seek to monopolize the Land's resources and secure access to the markets of developing countries. On the other hand, the North is doing everything possible to protect its own markets from the products of developing countries.

One of the key challenges of the twenty-first century will be sustainable development, which can be defined as development that meets the needs of the current generation, but does not deprive future generations of the opportunity to meet their own needs. Narayanan is of the opinion that humanity has reached the point where the balance of Earth's resources is disrupted, and life on the planet is threatened by excessive development, excessive consumption and excessive overpopulation. Sustainable development is an attempt to preserve the balance between man and nature and to reconcile economic development with the environment. The main cause of the environmental crisis is the overexploitation of natural resources and overconsumption in rich countries. Technological progress is unlikely to be reversed; however, a partial response to the harmful effects of modern technological expansion may be continued technological development, but only in a strictly defined direction. This refers to energy-saving and other environmentally friendly technologies, which are also very important to transfer to developing countries.

Curbing population growth is one of our top priorities. Meeting even the minimal needs of a rapidly growing population in developing countries will increase resource consumption and increase the burden on the environment. In this regard, Narayanan asks: can this huge part of humanity be denied the right to enjoy minimum civilized living conditions in an era of generally accepted norms of social justice and democratic rights? The apocalypse can be avoided, he believes, if you combine science and technology with simple common sense, morality and spirituality. On this point, Narayanan largely agrees with Gandhi, whose main idea was that there is enough on Earth to satisfy the needs of every person, but not the greed of all people. "I am quite satisfied," Gandhi said, " that everyone will have enough food and clothing, that everyone can develop their minds and get an education. But I wouldn't want to eat more than I can digest and have more things than I need for a reasonable use... Of course, a certain degree of physical harmony and comfort is necessary, but the presence of all this above a certain level turns against the person. Therefore, some ideal of creating an unlimited set of needs and satisfying them seems to be a deception and a trap." Narayanan himself describes modern consumer culture as "an unquenchable thirst for sensual and intellectual enjoyment." 9

Gandhi's approach to consumption remains valid both from a moral point of view and in view of the undeniable fact that there are limits to growth in a world with limited resources. Today, many thinking people are coming to the realization that rampant consumption is not in the best interests of humanity as a whole. For example, the American scientist John Galbraith speaks about reasonable limits of consumption, who believes that modern developed societies have long passed the stage of meeting the needs necessary for a decent life.

According to Narayanan, sustainable development in the world is possible if a "combination of factors" is used, including clean technologies, equitable distribution of resources, addressing issues of gender equality and equity, and most of all - reducing consumption-as well as recycling and waste management. Issues of development, consumption and ecology are directly related to the life of each person in different regions of the world, with their responsibilities and their rights.

President Narayanan views the fundamental issue of human rights as having a direct bearing on such concepts as freedom, independence, justice and their limitation at the global, regional or national levels. When considering the issue of human rights, specific conditions in different parts of the world, especially in developing countries, should be taken into account. This understanding of human rights was expressed at the congresses of the International Bar Association (IIA), when economic and social rights were raised to the level of civil and political rights. The MAY 1993 Vienna Declaration stated that the protection of human rights "requires a concentrated effort to ensure economic, social and cultural rights at the national, regional and international levels" .10

Along with the key human rights and laws that ensure them (common to all people and applicable at all stages of economic and cultural development), President Narayanan suggests that the existing concept of "rainbow of rights" should also be taken into account, which affects the fundamental interests of millions and millions of citizens in developing countries. Civilized humanity, he emphasizes, is faced with the enormous task of creating fair and equitable laws in a world where inequality and injustice exist.

On the verge of two centuries and millennia, the President of India draws the special attention of the citizens of his country and all mankind to major problems, the solution of which does not tolerate delay.


1 The Constitution of India. New Delhi, 2000. Articles 53, 55, 61, 74, 75, 85, 123, 352.

2 Mainstream. New Delhi. January 29, 2000. pp. 11, 13.

3 Speech by the President of India Shri K.R. Narayanan on the Occasion of Unveiling the Bust of Dr. Rajendra Prasad. New Delhi, December 3, 1999.

4 Address to the Nation by the President of India. January 25, 2000. - World Affairs, January- March 2000, pp. 131- 138.

5 Caria Power. Caste Struggle. - Newsweek. June 25, 2000.

6 Times of India. 8.01.1998.

7 K.R. Narayanan. Babasaheb Ambedkar. -Mainstream. August 8, 1992, p. 26.

8 Address to the Nation by Shri K.R. Narayanan, President of India. New Delhi, August 15, 1997.

9 Speech by K.R. Narayanan at the Inauguration of the Silver Jubilee Celebrations of Tata Energy Research Institute. New Delhi, February 18,2000.

10 K.R. Narayanan. Justice and Equity in an Unjust and Unequal World. - Mainstream. November 27, 1999, p. 6.


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