Patil to be Rashtrapati or Rashtrapramukh? | india | Hindustan Times
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Patil to be Rashtrapati or Rashtrapramukh?

india Updated: Jul 22, 2007 11:29 IST

With Pratibha Patil's election as India's first woman president, a group working for women's rights plans to launch a campaign for a new nomenclature for the top constitutional post, given the masculine gender of the current Hindi term Rashtrapati.

"How can you address a woman president as Rashtrapati? Considering that a woman will be occupying the nation's top office for the first time, we need to change the nomenclature to either Rashtradhyaksha or Rashtrapramukh - someone has to take a call on that," observed Kumkum Tripathi, deputy chief of Mahila Samakhya in Uttar Pradesh.

The NGO had first raised the issue five years ago, when the outgoing president, APJ Abdul Kalam, was fresh in the office.

"We did it earlier in 2002 as well by sending a signature campaign to President Kalam, who promised to take appropriate steps in that direction. However, sadly, nothing happened thereafter," she lamented.

"A delegation under our former head Manju Agarwal had also met President Kalam during his 2004 visit to the state capital here [Lucknow] and he had promised to bring the issue before a committee."

Tripathi plans to undertake a fresh signature campaign to renew the battle for a gender-neutral title.

"We will send this to the new president and hope that the issue would not gather dust any more," she hoped.

During the Lucknow Mahotsava in 2002, Mahila Samakhya had put up a stall where a game involving play with patriarchal words was organised. "It was here that the question of finding an appropriate word in Hindi for a woman president was raised, following which we sent an appeal to the president," she pointed out.

"In fact, the issue becomes absolutely pertinent now and the earlier we can strike a solution, the better," she added.