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Who is Ram Nath Kovind?

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Today afternoon, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) President Mr. Amit Shah announced that Mr. Ram Nath Kovind would be the candidate of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) in the upcoming Presidential Elections in the country. Let us get to know the next President of India (officially he is only a candidate as of now but there is nothing official about the truth – more on that later).

Background to the Presidential Elections

In India, the President is only the constitutional head of the State (Capital S in ‘State’ means the reference is to a country) and the real executive power lies with the Prime Minister (PM). However, all executive decisions of the Union or Central Government are made in the name of the President. The President is also the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces and gets to live in the palatial Rashtrapati Bhawan. So, just a figurehead, you would think. But he does have some powers. In the situation after a national election, if no party achieves the majority mark, it is the President who gets to decide which party or group of parties to call to form the government.

The current President Mr. Pranab Mukherjee took office in July 2012. The term of office of the President is five years so the next President must be elected before that term ends so that there can be a smooth transition. The Election Commission of India has notified the dates for the election. The voting will take place on the 17th of July and the counting of votes will be done on the 20th of July 2017.

Don’t take your Voter ID cards out just yet. The President of India is not directly elected by the people of India. He is elected by the Members of Parliament (MPs) and the Members of Legislative Assemblies (MLAs). The election process is another ball game altogether and deserves another article (may be when we know if the opposition puts up a candidate and the numbers game becomes interesting).

Ram Nath Kovind – NDA’s candidate and next President of India

Image source : Wikipedia
  • When Mr. Shah announced the candidate’s name to the media, everyone was surprised because Mr. Kovind’s name was heard nowhere in the corridors of power. Trust Mr. Shah and Mr. Modi to shock (or surprise, depending on which side of the political spectrum you belong to) people (remember Yogi Adityanath’s appointment as Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh).
  • Uttar Pradesh is where Ram Nath Kovind was born in 1945 (I ignored the exact date because who wants to know the President’s birthday and the media and Twitter won’t let you forget) and where he received his education from. He did his B.Com and LL.B from Kanpur University.
  • Although he completed his law degree, his immediate plan was to join the civil services but then he didn’t get the desired service and contented himself to practising law. He started practising as an Advocate in the Delhi High Court (where he was also Central Government Advocate for a couple of years), also appeared in the Supreme Court (where he was also Central Government Standing Counsel for a couple of years) and went on to become an Advocate-on-Record in the Supreme Court.
  • However, his legal career is not touted as being the reason behind his Presidential candidacy. His association with the BJP is (and his caste, more on that later). Mr. Kovind has served the BJP in the past in two capacities:
    1. President of BJP Dalit Morcha (1998-2002)
    2. National Spokesperson of BJP
  • And I forgot, he is the present Governor of Bihar (from 2015 when he was appointed by the President of India Pranab Mukherjee). Amazing isn’t it, Mr. Mukherjee appointed him Governor and now Mr. Kovind will succeed him as President. Not the first for Mr. Mukherjee though. As Finance Minister in the Indira Gandhi government, he had appointed Dr. Manmohan Singh as the Governor of the Reserve Bank of India who went on to become not just the Finance Minister of India but also the Prime Minister of the country and later worked to appoint Mr. Mukherjee as the President of India. Such a huge mess politics is!
  • As soon as Mr. Kovind’s candidature was announced, media circles went into a tizzy gathering information about him and the most important fact that they could gather was that he was a Dalit by caste. Now, caste is relevant in politics and life (no?) and this candidature and the subsequent analysis by the media will prove that it will remain so at least for the next few years.

Lastly, I come back to the fact that he will be the next President of India. It is not official yet but nothing is official about the truth and the truth is this. As of now, the opposition has not put up a candidate for the post of President and there is no certainty that they will come around to doing so because many parties will be hesitant to be obstructing the passage of a Dalit to the highest office in the country (however, there has been one more Dalit President in India, K.R. Narayanan). Even if the Indian National Congress (INC) and some other opposition parties put up a candidate it will merely be a symbolic fight because as I mentioned earlier the voters in a Presidential election in India are the MPs and the MLAs and the BJP (or NDA, the alliance) has majority of MPs and rules many states thereby having large number of MLAs. The numbers can get tricky only if some members of NDA (like the Shiv Sena) go against the NDA candidate and all the remaining non-NDA parties refuse to support Mr. Kovind, which is a very unlikely scenario. So, start memorising the name of the next President of India, Mr. Ram Nath Kovind.



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Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

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The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

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As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

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