A Letter to the New President of the World’s Largest Democracy

Dear Mr President of India,

Congratulations upon your appointment as the Head of State of the World’s largest Democracy; a political system which gives vote and voice to every adult. As you prepare your inaugural speech, I want to give you some thoughts.

It is said more people live now on the planet than have ever died since the beginning of time. So it is that within the borders of your India, more people live in poverty than anywhere else in the world.

But this is not a tragedy – it is an opportunity. Imagine Mr President, if in your short Presidential term you could do that one thing no politician ever could – have one singular cause – one national challenge – and bring a nation together and in so doing save the world itself.

I suggest you recall the words of the US President, John F Kennedy who said in his Inaugural speech ‘…the belief that the rights of man come not from the generosity of the state, but from the hand of God.’

Fundamental to those rights, is the right to live free from poverty. So I suggest in your inaugural speech you mimic Kennedy and state, ‘I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of removing child poverty and malnutrition. If we were to go only half way or reduce our sights in the face of difficulty, it would be better not to go at all. And let every nation know… that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, to assure the survival and the success of our children. Let the word go forth…..that the torch free of the burden of poverty will be passed to a new generation of Indians.’

Imagine the advantage you have over Kennedy. You have a bigger economy in India today, than the United States had when Kennedy became President. You have more people to do your bidding. And you have a simpler task than putting a man on the moon.

I remind you, the Head of a nuclear power, what else Kennedy said that fateful January day in 1961 – ‘Man holds in his mortal hands the power to abolish all forms of human poverty and all forms of human life’.

So Mr President, when you ask what you can do for your country – this is it. Should you not wish to take up my suggestion, then you should know Kennedy also said, ‘…let us go forth to lead the land we love, asking His blessing and His help, but knowing that here on earth God’s work must truly be our own."

So it is Mr President, in this the land of the most ancient of faiths, the decision resides with you whether you have the vision to manifest God himself. May God grant you the wisdom and the courage to make the right choice.

Alpesh Patel


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