Her candidacy was dogged by unprecedented mudslinging from the moment it was agreed upon by coalition members, marring the usually genteel process of presidential elections.[snip]
Her comments ahead of the election calling on Indian women to abandon headscarves was roundly denounced by Muslim leaders and by historians — who disputed her assertion that women only started wearing them in India to save themselves from 16th century Muslim invaders.
Analysts say Patil, who is largely unknown on the national stage, was selected for her unswerving devotion to Sonia Gandhi, leader of the Congress party, and Gandhi's powerful family, which has historically controlled the party.
The election of a woman continues an Indian tradition using the presidency to bolster disadvantaged communities.The outgoing President is a self-effacing scientist, the architect of India's nuclear program, and a big promoter of social reform stressing education and the scientific world-view. Though his power is limited, he did try to stand up to some of the self-serving pandering of Members of Parliament in the office of profits affair. The following, I think, reveals something of his character, a humility that is glaringly absent from India's political stage.
Hindu-majority India has had three Muslim presidents, including incumbent A. P. J. Abdul Kalam, since winning independence from Britain in 1947. It has also had a president from the minority Sikh community, and Kalam's predecessor, K. R. Narayanan, came from the bottom of the society's complex social hierarchy.
While India has had several women in positions of power — most notably Indira Gandhi, who was elected prime minister in 1966, and her daughter-in-law, Sonia Gandhi, who currently heads the Congress party — many women still face rampant discrimination.
In possibly his last public function as the head of the state, Kalam had an advice for the countrymen -- `don't take gifts that come with a purpose and build families with character and good value system.[He did add that the two suitcases didn't include a large library of books. He's a professor after all!] [Oh do go read this little blog critique on the Patil campaign and "women's empowerment," highlighting again the maddeningly schizophrenic reality of India.]
"On the 25th I will leave Rashtrapati Bhawan after having spent five glorious years there. What I have got are two small suitcases. I will go with two small suitcases," he said in his address at the India Islamic Cultural Centre (IICC)