India’s 14th President: How Life Will Change for Ram Nath Kovind
A lot will change in the life of the President-elect, find out how.
Sure, ‘with great power comes great responsibility,’ but throwing in a few palatial houses, swimming pools and horses to sweeten the deal didn’t harm anyone!
On 25 July, Kovind will find himself taking oath as the 14th President of India, however, the same day a lot more shall change for the candidate who won with a clear majority.
A Palatial Palace in the Heart of Delhi
The Rashtrapati Bhawan atop the Raisina Hill will be Kovind’s over 200,000 sq ft home. It has 340 rooms spread across four floors, built using 700 million bricks.
A golf course, tennis court, squash court and swimming pool should help keep the President-elect physically fit. And for his senses – a spiritual garden, an ornamental park, a deer park and the famed Mughal Gardens, all on the President’s Estate.
The Breathtaking Interiors of the Rashtrapati Bhavan
While the President will sleep on just one bed, all the 340 rooms in Rashtrapati bhavan are incredibly lit.
Among its fascinating ballrooms, is the Ashok Hall. This is where Kovind will host state banquets for visiting state guests.
Kovind has made it to an extraordinary group of 14 Presidents who have headed the largest democracy in the world. Part of his new ‘home’ is the Durbar Hall which stood witness to Independent India's first government being sworn in back in 1947.
42 lakh soldiers in India shall now regard Ram Nath Kovind as their Commander-in-Chief. It is the onerous prerogative of the President of India to formally declare war on another nation. Three Presidents have had to do that in the past.
Kovind will be the formal supreme commander of the Indian Armed Forces, including the Army, Navy and Air Force. He appoints the Chiefs of these respective forces, of course, ‘in consultation’ with the Council of Ministers headed by the Prime Minister.
As the country’s Commander-in-Chief, Kovind will also take the salute on 26 January, Republic Day, arriving for the function in a unique ‘Raj’ hand-me-down’ horse-drawn carriage.
Kovind will also maintain the age-old tradition of buggy rides, just like the 13 presidents preceding him.
Power of Life and Death
According to the Centre of Death Penalty, at the end of 2016 there were 397 people on death row in India.
After being sworn in as President on 24 July, Kovind will have the power to grant mercy as a last resort to the convicts. Meaning, the fate of these 397 convicts, from the day he is sworn in, will lie in his hands. He may not choose to emulate his predecessor Pranab Da, who turned down 30 mercy petitions, a number more than the combined total of those rejected by four of his immediate predecessors.
A Home in the North and South
Ram Nath Kovind will have to get used to shuffling between his residence in Delhi and the two retreats, each in Shimla and Hyderabad.
Just as the British made Shimla their winter residence to escape Delhi’s sweltering heat, the President too is expected to go at least once a year to grace the bungalow that was once occupied by the British viceroy on a hilltop in Shimla.
The other retreat is the Rashtrapati Nilayam in Hyderabad, formerly owned by the Nizam of Hyderabad. It is a single-storied building and has 11 rooms. Protocol requires the President to stay here at least once a year.
The Presidential Bodyguard
Kovind will also have to get used to elaborate security measures at the Rashtrapati Bhawan. "The President's Bodyguard" is an elite cavalry unit (yes, they ride horses on ceremonial days) housed entirely on the President’s Estate (including the horses). These men guard the President round-the-clock, making sure no harm comes his way.
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