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The New President, Ram Nath Kovind (THE HINDU)

It is Ram Nath Kovind’s use of discretionary powers that will define his presidency

As India’s 14th President, Ram Nath Kovind will be expected to play the important role of safeguarding the spirit of the Constitution and the foundations of our parliamentary democracy. Unlike his immediate predecessor Pranab Mukherjee, Mr. Kovind moves into Rashtrapati Bhavan after a stint in a Raj Bhavan. Arguably, it is a Raj Bhavan, and not the office of the Vice-President, that is the best preparatory ground for the non-ceremonial duties of the President, particularly those that may involve invoking the office’s discretionary power. After general elections that produced hung Lok Sabhas, former Presidents R. Venkataraman, Shankar Dayal Sharma and K.R. Narayanan adopted different procedures to decide who would have the first shot at forming the government. Venkataraman and Sharma invited the leader of the single largest party, with varying results. While Rajiv Gandhi declined Venkataraman’s invitation in 1989, A.B. Vajpayee accepted Sharma’s invitation in 1996, only to see his government last no more than 13 days. In 1998, Narayanan ascertained the support Mr. Vajpayee had before calling him to form the government. Like these predecessors, Mr. Kovind may be involved in situations with no set precedent. Also, while the use and abuse of Article 356, and the imposition of President’s Rule, are now monitored closely by the higher courts, as President he will necessarily have to use his own discretion should the Union Cabinet send such a recommendation. On contentious pieces of legislation, he can be extremely influential when he counsels caution, using his moral authority and the weight of his public office.

Mr. Kovind secured an impressive victory, receiving more than the number of votes pledged to him, signifying acceptance levels that go beyond the NDA’s political spectrum. Once the names of the candidates for the election were known, much of the interest centred on the support he would garner from Opposition parties not affiliated to the Congress. That he did win substantially more votes vindicates the faith the BJP’s leadership placed on his candidature. To the BJP’s credit, it did not choose a dyed-in-saffron member of the Sangh Parivar. Mr. Kovind’s candidature may have been a strategic political compromise. On the one hand it ensured the wider support that the BJP wanted and, on the other, it wasn’t entirely politically neutral, not enough anyway to allow the Congress or the Left parties the satisfaction of a consensus candidate. He is a Dalit, and his nomination was intended by the BJP to signal a socially inclusive agenda. But as President, Mr. Kovind will have to rise above political and social identities. He will be called upon to apply his mind and distinguish between settled conventions and questionable precedents in arriving at decisions. The office of the President was not conceived as merely a ceremonial post. The discretionary powers that he has demand a delicate balance without slipping into being either an unthinking rubber stamp or an overzealous interventionist.

Learn Vocabulary from Newspaper Articles (THE HINDU)

1) Vindicate (verb) (बरी कर देना , साबित कर देना ) : vin-di-kate
Meaning - to clear from an accusation, suspicion or criticism
Synonyms - justify, acquit, defend, support
Antonyms - accuse, convict, blame
Example -While your apology doesn’t vindicate your action, it may help to provide some comfort for the people who were harmed by it.

2) Stint (noun)  (कार्यकाल):   st-int
Meaning - a span of time in which a person is occupied with a particular job or in a particular place
Synonyms:  duration, time-span, term
Antonyms - Entertainment , pastime
Example - When the astronaut returned home after a long stint in space, he had to reconnect with his family.
3)Predecessor (noun)(पूर्वज): pred-e-ces-sor
Meaning - an individual who holds a position before another person
Synonyms - precursor, forerunner, antecedent
Antonyms - successor, descendant
Example -The iPhone 5s was the predecessor of the iPhone 6.

4) Garner (verb)(संचित करना): gahr-ner
Meaning - to collect or accumulate
Synonyms -  gather, collect, accumulate.
Antonyms - Disperse, distribute, separate
Example -The actor hopes to garner interest in his film by promoting it on several talk shows.

5) Discretion (noun) (विवेक):  dis-cre-tion
Meaning - the freedom to decide what should be done in a certain situation
Synonyms - choice, option, preference.
Antonyms - indiscretion, folly, carelessness
Example - Parents have the discretion to determine which television programs their children may watch.
6) Precedent (adjective)  (मिसाल):  prec-e-dent
Meaning - an earlier event or action that is regarded as an example
Synonyms - example, model, previous case.
Antonyms -  following, after
Example -The judges had no precedent to review before making their decision on the controversial case.

7) Convention (noun) ( सहमति,  सम्मेलन):  kun-ven-shun
Meaning -an agreement related to official matters
Synonyms - agreement, accord, protocol/pact.
Antonyms - discord, disagreement, oddity
Example - A convention of medical practitioners was held to discuss new developments in the treatment of HIV.

8) Contentious (adjective)(विवादास्पद ): kun-ten-shus
Meaning -causing or likely to cause an argument
Synonyms - controversial, debatable, disputed.
Antonyms - harmony, peaceful, friendly
Example -As a rule, I tend to avoid contentious topics of conversation which might lead to arguments.
9) Overzealous (adjective) ( ज्यादा ):   oh-ver-zel-us
Meaning - too enthusiastic, determined
Synonyms - extreme, fanatical
Antonyms - passionless
Example: Jason is an overzealous cyclist who is constantly riding his bike.

10) Prowess  (Noun)  -  कौशलMeaning - bravery in battle
Synonyms: valor, courage, bravery, heroism, intrepidity, gallantry
Antonyms -   inability, powerlessness, cowardice
Example (English) - Kargil Vijay Diwas reminds us of India's military prowess and the great sacrifices made by the armed forces.
Example (Hindi) - कारगिल विजय दिवस हमें भारत के सैन्य कौशल और सशस्त्र बलों द्वारा दिए गए महान बलिदान की याद दिलाता है।

Now considering the article above as a Reading Comprehension, try to answer the following questions-
  1. What role is Mr. Ram Nath Kovind expected to play after his win according to the passage given?
  2. Which requirements discretionary powers of the President post demand according to the passage?


Now it's time to check your vocabulary. We have given below some words from the same article. Try to make sentences with these words in the comment section which will be reviewed by us.
  • Ascertain
  • Spectrum
  • Imposition
  • Ceremonial
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