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Vice-President of India

Crank’s News: MVPs on VPs

New Delhi: While the Presidential poll is hogging all the limelight, the election to choose the country’s Vice President is not getting enough attention. This is a shame considering the fact that the post of Vice President is the closest that one can experience pre-retirement what people in other jobs enjoy post-retirement.

Here at Crank’s News, we have pulled out some interesting tidbits (Most Valuable Points –MVPs) from the fascinating pages of Indian History, Chapter: Vice President; Sub-Heading: A job whose incumbent, if he/she ever dies and ends up in heaven, he/she will find it a huge disappointment.

# The Constitution of India is by and large adopted from the British model, which doesn’t have the provision for the post of Vice President. So India imported the Vice-President’s post from the United States of America. Writing in his insightful book on Indian parliamentary democracy, Prof William Dalhart of Stanford University says: “Though the concept of Vice-President was essentially borrowed from the USA, the founding fathers of India were smart enough to incorporate changes so that it fit the unique Indian system. For instance, the first thing they did with the post of Vice-President was to indigenise it by removing the hyphen from it. In India, it’s only Vice President’.  (Seeing its enormous success, the US too moved to this version much later).

# Quite unlike the President of India, who can be removed only through impeachment, the Vice President can be removed by a resolution of the Rajya Sabha, passed by an absolute majority (more than 50% of total membership). “But no such resolution may be moved unless at least 14 days’ advance notice has been given to (and approved by) the Chairman of the Rajya Sabha”, who is the Vice President of the country. In no uncertain other words: the Vice President of the country can be removed only with the explicit permission of the Vice President of the country.

# The Vice President has to give two passport-size photos at the time of being sworn in for official identification purposes.

# The Constitution does not explicitly stipulate any dress code for the Vice President.

# The Constitution has not bestowed the ‘work from home option’ for the Vice President. “We can give a home. But what work can we give him/her? It beats the heck out of us,” wrote a member of the drafting committee on the margins of the first draft of the Constitution.

# Dr. Sarvepali Radhakrishnan was elected the first Vice President of India based on the philosophical reason that his first name ‘Sarvepali’ anagrammed to: “Is a real VP”.

# Interestingly, Vice President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat could not make it as the President considering the fact that his name could be rearranged to “Bathing Wish: Shake A Horn”, which was deemed to be too unparliamentary.

# In the year 1969, India went without a Vice-President for nearly four months. However, no major controversy broke out, as the then Union government came up with the most acceptable and logical explanation: “We didn’t notice that the job had fallen vacant”.

# In May 1975, the Vice-President of the day Basappa Danappa Jatti embarked on a long vacation. But he dramatically cut short it within two days and returned to Delhi in a hurry. The interesting biographical work on him (titled Jockeying with Jatti) by Prof Ramesh Chandravakar of Allahabad University, later recorded this: “The corridors of power in New Delhi was awash with whispers as to why the Vice President came rushing back to New Delhi, especially days before Emergency was clamped in India. But when I posed this question to Jatti, he smiled indulgently at me and said: ‘Having been the Vice President, I could not handle the stress and strain of vacation and holidays.’”

# When Sh. Varahagiri Venkata Giri was the Vice President, the staff at his office worked overtime to come up with a catchphrase, which till today continues to be the inspiring catcall of all those bored: “Savari Giri Giri”

# Though S D Sharma was Vice President for the stipulated period of five years only, he is credited to have enjoyed the longest tenure because “he walked really slowly”.

# Mohammad Hamid Ansari has the rare intellectual distinction among the Vice Presidents of India for ‘not having combed his hair even once during his entire tenure.’

# Lastly, the post of Vice-President of India figures in the Guinness Book of World Records ‘for being the sole job in the world in which — it gets a bit technical here — there is no job.

(Disclaimer: People may think I have been uncharitable to a top Constitutional job. But whenever I say ‘Vice President’ I am only conveying my ‘divine respect’ through a different spelling)

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