A Quick View of Pranab Mukerjee's Life


India’s former President Pranab Mukherjee will be awarded the highest Indian civilian honor today. The 83-year old politician, popularly known as Pranab da, is a seasoned Indian politician who served as 13th President of India from 2012 to 2017. He succeeded India’s first woman President Prathibha Patil. Being a veteran in Indian Politics, Mukerjee has a political career spanning over several decades; he has been a senior leader in Indian National Congress (INC) and has held several ministerial portfolios. Prior to his Presidential role, he served as Union Finance Minister from 2009 to 2012 in the UPA 2 government.

Let us look back at his journey, from his student days to heading the world’s largest democracy.

Early Life

Pranab was born to freedom fighter, Kamada Kinkar Mukherjee and Rajlakshmi Mukherjee on 11th December 1935. His father played an active role in Indian independence movement and held a longtime membership in INC. Pranab has obtained a degree in history and political science and went on to pursue law from University of Calcutta, following which he initiated his career as a Lecturer and then a Journalist. Ultimately, Pranab’s father’s involvement in politics drew him to politics.

Political Career

Pranab began his political career in 1969, but the then Prime Minister of India, Indira Gandhi recognized his calibre and roped him to INC. This marked the dawn of his prolific political career and he went on to become a member of the Rajya Sabha in July 1969. His growth was fast paced in the initial phase of his career and he was appointed as Union Deputy Minister of Industrial Development in Indira’s cabinet in 1973. He quickly rose through several cabinet posts and became deputy leader of INC in the Rajya Sabha in 1979, and was appointed as Leader of the House in 1980. Further, he served as Finance Minister from 1982 to 1984. In his term as Finance Minister, he appointed Manmohan Singh as the Governor of RBI.  

Pranab was sidelined from INC after the assassination of Indira Gandhi in 1984 and post Rajiv Gandhi succeeded her. As Pranab was considered to be Indira’s successor, he lost his position in cabinet and managed the regional congress committee in West Bengal. In 1986, Pranab found a party Rashtriya Samajwadi Congress in Bengal, which later merged with INC following the compromise with Rajiv. Pranab’s political career rejuvenated, post the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi in 1991., P.V. Narasimha Rao succeeded Rajiv and appointed Pranab as deputy chairman of Indian Planning Commission and eventually as a Union Cabinet Minister. Thereafter, he even served as External Affairs Minister from 1995-96.           

He held several important positions in the following years including General Secretary of the AICC from 1998 to 1999, President of the West Bengal Congress from 2000 to 2010, and also served as Leader of the House in the Lok Sabha in 2004. In June 2012, Pranab terminated his association with INC and nominated as the presidential candidate of the UPA. He defeated P.A. Sangma in the election. He was sworn-in by Chief Justice of India on 25th July 2012.

As the President of India, he promulgated Criminal Law Ordinance in 2013, which provides for amendment of Indian Penal Code, Indian Evidence Act, and Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 on laws related to sexual offences.

Awards & Honors

In 2008, Pranab was honoured with Padma Vibhushan, India’s second highest civilian award. In 2013, he was presented with Bangladesh’s second highest award Bangladesh Liberation War Honor. He obtained Grand Cross of National Order of the Ivory Coast in 2016, and Grand Collar of the Order of Makarios III in 2017. Adding to the list is the Bharat Ratna.

Books Written

Apart from being a proficient politician, Pranab has also found time from his busy schedule to pen down some books, which includes Midterm Poll, Beyond Survival: Emerging Dimensions of Indian Economy, Off the Track, Saga of Struggle and Sacrifice, Challenges before the Nation, Congress and the Making of Indian Nation, The Coalition Years and more.

Penning his story in few words is unthinkable. His achievements are huge and accomplishments are widespread.

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