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Former President & Bharat Ratna Awardee Pranab Mukherjee passes away

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Former-President-Pranab-Mukerjee-diesOn 31 August, 2020 Former President and One of the Country’s Senior Most Politicians Pranab Kumar Mukherjee passed away after developing a lung infection at the Army’s Research and Referral Hospital, New Delhi, where he was admitted for a Brain Surgery. He had also tested Positive for Coronavirus.

Pranab Mukherjee served as the 13th President of India from 2012-2017. He was India’s only non-Prime Minister who was the leader of the Lok Sabha.

The Government of India declared seven-day national mourning till September 6 as a mark of respect to the Former President.

About Pranab Mukherjee: 

i.Fondly called as ‘Pranabda’, he was born in 1935 in Mirati, West Bengal. 

ii.He was part of the Congress party for five decades and was considered as a formidable political strategist, draftsman and parliamentarian with an astute legal mind. 

iii.Before taking his first step as a politician, he worked as a teacher and as a Journalist with Desher Dak (Call of Motherland) and also as Assistant Professor.

iv.He earned an MA degree in Political Science & History and LLB degree both from the University of Calcutta. 

Political Life:

i.He remained with the Congress Party for five-decades, he was a member of the Congress Working Committee, the highest policy making body of the Party for a period of 23 years.

ii.He was elected to Rajya Sabha for five times (1969, 1975, 1981, 1993, 1999) representing various constituencies. 

iii.He was elected twice to Lok Sabha (2004, 2009-12) from Bengal’s Jangipur constituency.

iv.Pranab has served as Leader of Rajya Sabha from 1980-85 & as Leader of Lok Sabha from 2004-12.

v.From 1973-2012, Mukherjee held various Portfolios such as External affairs, Defence and Finance for various Prime Ministers. 

Highlights:

i.In 2006 during his second term as Minister of External Affairs, he oversaw the successful signing of the United States (US)-India Civil Nuclear Agreement with the US. 

ii.He successfully oversaw the signing of India with Nuclear Suppliers Group, which allowed India to participate in civilian nuclear trade, in spite of not being a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

iii.During the period 2004-2012 he was instrumental in shaping several critical decisions of Government on various issues such as Right to Information, setting up of UIDAI, Right to Employment through Chairmanship of over 95 Groups of Ministers constituted for the purpose.

iv.Pranab Mukherjee played a vital role in setting up the Regional Rural Banks (1975) and the EXIM Bank of India as well as National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (1981-82).

v.He was the author of the Gadgil – Mukherjee formula, a modified formula for resource sharing between the Centre and State in 1991. 

vi.He was the first Bengali to hold the post of President of India. 

Representation at International level:

i.Pranab Mukherjee has extensive diplomatic experience and has served on the Board of Governors of the IMF, World Bank, Asian Development Bank and African Development Bank.

ii.He has led the Indian delegations to the Commonwealth Finance Ministers Conferences in 1982, 1983 and 1984.

iii.He has led Indian Delegation at the United Nations General Assembly in 1994, 1995, 2005 and 2006, the Conference of Commonwealth Heads of Government at Auckland in 1995.

iv.He has also led Delegation of Indian officials at the Non-Aligned Foreign Minister’s Conference at Cartagena in 1995 and the conference to mark the 40th anniversary of the Afro –Asian Conference in Bandung in 1995.

Initiatives as President:

i.As president, his first announcement was to do away with the honorific ‘His Excellency’ used for the president and the governors of the states.

ii.Pranab Mukherjee launched ‘4S’ initiatives for the welfare of the staff, employees and members of their families residing in the President’s Estate.

  • ‘Sanskriti’ was launched for children between the age of 7-15 years where Classes of painting, yoga, storytelling, clay modelling and singing were held inside the Pranab Mukherjee Public Library.
  • ‘Samagam’ – was launched for senior citizens. It included activities like yoga classes, community singing, counselling services, free health check-ups and board games.
  • ‘Sparsh’ –  A respite centre was opened for special children.
  • ‘Sanskar’ –  Aimed at meeting the nutritional requirements of children at the Rashtrapati Bhavan Play School.

iii.He was the first president to teach school children inside the Rashtrapati Bhavan. He taught class 11 and 12 students of the Rajendra Prasad Sarvodaya Vidyalaya in the President’s Estate.

iv.He launched the ‘E-Pustakalaya’ project for barcoding and cataloguing of books. Using e-Granthalaya software, relating to the Automated Library of President’s Secretariat (ALPS), around 8310 e-books were uploaded under the e-office platform.

v.He promulgated or re-promulgated 26 ordinances during his tenure. He rejected 30 mercy petitions and commuted four of them. At 45, only R Venkatraman has rejected more mercy petitions than Pranab Mukherjee.

Awards & Honours:

i.In 2019, he was awarded India’s Highest Civilian Award, Bharat Ratna.

ii.In 2008, he was conferred with India’s Second Highest Civilian Award, Padma Vibhushan.

iii.Best Parliamentarian Award in 1997 and Best Administrator in India Award in 2011.

iv.One of the best five Finance Ministers of the world in 1984 according to a survey conducted by “Euro Money” Journal published from New York.

v.‘Finance Minister of the year’ for Asia in 2010 by “Emerging Markets”, the journal of record for the World Bank and the IMF.

Books:

i.He has authored several books. Some of his notable works are The Coalition Years: 1996 – 2012 (2017), The Turbulent Years – 1980-1996 (2016), The Dramatic Decade: The Indira Gandhi Years’ (2014), Thoughts and Reflections (2014). 

ii.Pranab Mukherjee’s book ‘The Presidential Years’ will be released on his birth anniversary on 11th December. It will be a unique autobiographical account which will give the readers a bird’s eye view of the functioning of Rashtrapati Bhavan from the imposition of President’s rule in Arunachal Pradesh to demonetization. It is published by Rupa Publications.