Ram Nath Kovind

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Ram Nath Kovind (born 1 October 1945) was the 14th President of India from 2017 to 2022. Before he was President, he practiced law in New Delhi and then served in various political offices, alternatively self-identifying as a citizen of the states of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.

India having a Parliamentary system, there is not an awful lot for the President to do. There are proclamations to sign and ribbons to cut at bridge openings, but mostly the President just stands around and tries to be notorious. Some previous Presidents have sought notoriety by developing idiosyncrasies; one engaged in no dental hygiene at all except tongue-scraping; another started each day by drinking a cup of his own urine, a habit that is only mildly harmful and does guarantee that nothing comparatively bad will happen to you for the rest of the day. Kovind had no such renown.

Kovind was born into the Kori clan of Uttar Pradesh, which is a dalit caste. Though he has plenty of anecdotes of his own dirt-poverty, he managed to parlay his status into electoral victory. The musical theme of a typical Kovind campaign was MC Hammer's song "U Can't Touch This".


In 2010, Kovind reportedly said that "Islam and Christianity are alien to the nation." Although being a damn sight tamer than what Prime Minister Narendra Modi routinely says about the two creeds, the remark — made to oppose a suggested set-aside for government jobs — attracted such controversy that a minor stampede emerged within the ruling BJP party to insist that critics did not hear it correctly, and that Kovind actually said something that would have been meaningless in the context. Perhaps a reputation for saying meaningless things could have been a personal idiosyncrasy he could have brought to the Presidency. Perhaps he will go on to bring it somewhere else.

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