- Hamid Ansari was only the second person since 1962 to have held the second highest constitutional post in independent India for two, successive, full terms and, has recently bowed out of office making way for the 13th Vice President of India M. Venkaiyah Naidu. An academic and career diplomat, Ansari comes from a family, which as Prime Minister Narendra Modi noted in his farewell address in the Rajya Sabha, “has been involved in public life for more than a hundred years”. He is the grand nephew of freedom fighter and former Congress president Mukhtar Ahmad Ansari.
Born on 1 April 1937 in Kolkata, Ansari is an academic and a career diplomat—he joined the Indian Foreign Service in 1961—who has brought his own combination of sincerity, grace, dignity, and integrity to the various positions he has held: India’s high commissioner in Australia; the country’s permanent representative to the United Nations; vice chairman of the Aligarh Muslim University; and chairman of the National Minorities Commission. In 2007, the then ruling alliance of the United Progressive Alliance (and its partner from outside the government, the Left Front) picked Ansari for the vice president’s post. In 2012, he was nominated again and pitted against Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) Jaswant Singh, who he defeated. The last vice president to be elected twice was S. Radhakrishnan, who served between 1952 and 1962.
Citizen and society
Pages : 323
As a career diplomat he had spent most of his time in West Asia. Ansari later headed the National Commission for Minorities and had been the vice-chancellor of the Aligarh Muslim University. All this formed a narrow world of experience. Ansari’s family had been associated with the Congress party and the Khilafat movement launched by Indian Muslims to urge the British government to preserve the authority of the Turkish Sultan as Caliph of Islam with the disintegration of the Ottoman Empire after World War I. Ansari’s vision was formed by his circulation in this restricted world. He is credited with getting Rajya Sabha TV off the ground, with the hope that it would be an Indian Public Broadcasting System (PBS) but headed by Gurdeep Singh Sappal, formerly OSD (officer on special duty) to Ansari, Rajya Sabha TV has soaked up money faster than a sponge does water. For the period of 2012-13 only, the bill was around Rs 73 crore.
In his last interview before demitting the office, had created ruckus among the political fraternity. His utterances, specifically regarding the ‘a sense of unease among Muslims’ has proven that he would have done a far better job heading a Waqf board or a Madrassa. In fact, this is not the first time that he has allowed myopia to cloud his vision and provoke him into saying things that are improper, unwanted and unbecoming of the dignity of the constitutional position that he hold. His last 10 years in office are ample proof that neither good education nor excellent work experience can cure a myopic vision.
The book Citizen and Society is a collection of lectures delivered by Hamid Ansari while he was the Vice President of India.
By Nilabh Krishna