Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Line of Succession

By the time this appears in print, the dust over the election of our new President would have settled down and the heat it has generated would have subsided. Even now it is more or less certain that the next occupant of the 340-roomed residence on Raisina Hills would be Dr Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam.

This, we are told, is a departure from the past precedent: a term as the Vice-President was nearly a pre-requisite for ascending to the highest office of the country. In fact, one of the objections to Dr Kalam’s nomination was exactly this.

Conversely, it was so far a natural progression from Veeps to the Prez. The question of when a person, having been chosen Vice-President, gets a berth in the Presidential suite is only one of time. It was not just some learned politicians who subscribed to this view, Sumitra said: as many as seventeen years back, Rohit, then all of eight years old, had aired this opinion.

It was a get-together of the ladies in the neighbourhood. Others present there smelt some interesting titbit behind this statement. Experience had told them that if Sumitra quoted Rohit, there would be an interesting twist to the tale. Sumitra had shared many of these with her friends during afternoon sessions like this. Rohit, now a software engineer in the US, was famous in the locality for the wisecracks he had made in his childhood. And they knew when an anecdote was coming.

The last story they had heard was about the remark he made when Rohit’s father got a promotion. The child, having graduated from the nearby playschool, had just started going to the nearby kindergarten. Seeing everybody in the house excited about the elevation, he asked in all innocence, ‘Will you now be going to the upper KG?’

Expecting to be treated to another entertaining one-liner, her friends egged Sumitra on to narrate the story of Rohit’s sagely pronouncement on the promotion of the Vice-President. Sumitra said, ‘My brother-in-law Ramesh had a decent job in the government, but, given the way things worked, he felt he was not able to grow to his full potential. So he went and did a two-year course in a reputed management institute. There was a campus selection through which he joined a pharmaceutical company.

‘The company Ramesh had joined was a multinational and they had fancy designations like President, Vice-President etc. With his high rank in the final examination and the administrative experience he had gained, Ramesh was assigned the designation Vice-President.

‘Rohit, then in Class III, was learning his first lessons in Civics, had a genuine doubt upon hearing this, “So, after Mr R Venkataraman, will it be Ramesh uncle who will be President?” For young Rohit, succession-planning was as easy as that!

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