Rashtrapati Bhavan (Presidential palace)
The President of India or the Rashtrapati is a figure head because the executive authority lies vested with the Prime Minister and the Council of ministers. Nevertheless the President is looked up to for guidance, much like the British Crown, in that the President reigns but does not rule. The President can intervene during crisis situations, and if required, declare National, State, or Financial emergencies.
The President is elected by the elected members of the houses of parliament, at the centre and in the states, and enjoys a term of five years. During the term of office, the President lives in the Rashtrapati Bhavan, the Presidential palace and the biggest residence of any President in the world.
Yesterday, Pratibha Patil became India’s 13th President and first woman President.
Although the presidential campaign was bitter, we hope her tenure sees many good changes for the great country that she must now guide and lead.
He predecessor A P J Abdul Kalam, the missile man, will be sorely missed. He will return to Anna University to teach aeronautical engineering, nano-technology, bio-technology, and space applications.
He liked everything simple in life, but A P J Abdul Kalam got a grand farewell as the country’s Head of the State at a ceremonial function on the forecourt of the majestic Rashtrapati Bhavan.
The colourful ceremony began with the arrival of Pratibha Patil, shortly after she was sworn in as the country’s first woman President, as rain clouds gathered over the Presidential palace adding to its glory.
Patil was driven in a buggy pulled by eight stallions to the forecourt where she inspected the guard of honour by the three services in the presence of dignitaries including Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
The new President, dressed in an off-white saree with a broad green border, savoured every moment of her reception as she smiled and cheerfully waved at the battery of lensmen gathered to catch on camera the historic moment.
After inspecting her first guard of honour, she was escorted into the red sandstone structure from where she emerged sometime later along with Kalam, according to tradition.
Kalam then inspected his farewell guard of honour and exchanged pleasantries with Singh, senior cabinet ministers, UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi, Supreme Court Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan, Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee and chiefs of the armed forces.
He even posed for a photograph with the family members of Patil before he drove out of the palatial building, his home for the last five years, accompanied by the country’s new Head of the State.
Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time (1 Tim 2:1-6)
Article 25 of the Constitution of India grants Indians the ‘freedom of conscience and free profession, practice and propagation of religion.’ We must pray that no force emerges in that free land to threaten this precious freedom.