With one President on the way out and another on the way in, this is a good time to ask: who has been India’s best-ever President? A good counter question is, does it matter when the President largely functions as the rubber stamp of the government of the day? But conceding that it does, when the Republic is ranged against forces intent on destroying democracy, how have our rashtrapatis done?
How does A.P.J. Abdul Kalam‘s populism compare with the scholarly gravitas of Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan? Was K.R. Narayanan as good as many think he was? Was Zail Singh really as servile as he was made out to be considering that he actually refused to sign the postal bill that would have allowed governments to open our mail? Will all future presidents be measured against Kalam?
And then the big question, if she wins, how will India’s first woman prez Pratibha Patil fare against all the rest?