In 2004, he was elected to the Union Lower House
– the Lok Sabha or the House of the People – and in the same year,
he was elected as its leader. He was re-elected to the house in
The Former President's scholastic disposition,
oratorical skills, his remarkable gift to recall to memory even the
lesser-known facts of the nation's political and Parliamentary
history and his genial personality, won him admirers, respect and
stature, cutting across party affiliations, in the Parliament. He
gained recognition of being one of the India's foremost
It made him the natural choice of his party to
be its famed trouble-shooter. He was called upon, in this capacity,
to steer some of the most important, delicate and sensitive debates
in the Parliament, both on behalf of his party and the Government.
He accomplished this task with great finesse which earned him the
reputation as a consensus builder, in the tumultuous political
landscape of the country.
In the Congress party, Former President
Mukherjee rose rapidly, becoming one of its towering leaders. He was
made a member of the Congress Working Committee, the highest policy
making body of the party at an early age and continued in it for 23
years until he was elected as the President of the country.
In 1969, he was inducted as a member of the
Council of Ministers in every Government that the Congress party
formed or led. During more than four decades since then, he was
either a junior Minister or a Cabinet Minister of the crucial
Ministries of Commerce, Finance, External Affairs and Defence. He
was also the Deputy Chairman of India's Planning Commission.
Some of his landmark achievements as a Cabinet
Minister include his selection as the best Finance Minister of the
world in 1984 by Euromoney Magazine; Finance Minister of the Year
award in 2010 by Emerging Markets, the daily newspaper of Record of
IMF, World Bank etc.; and as the Defence Minister, opening the gates
for stronger India-US defence cooperation by concluding the 'New
Framework for US-India Defence Relations' in 1995. In this capacity,
he also laid down the much-needed blue print for the modernisation
of India's Armed forces and established procedures and systems to
overcome crippling delays that had eroded the nation's defence
capability. As the External Affairs Minister, he built the
foundation for wider relations with the US, steering and signing the
India-US Nuclear Agreement in 2010.
The Former President also served as the Chairman
of around 95 Groups of Ministers (GoMs), during the two UPA
Governments (2004-10), formed by an alliance of over a dozen
disparate parties. His astute consensus building capability, his
experience and seniority, was utilised by the government to resolve
delicate and sensitive difference between Ministries that threatened
to hamper the performance of the Government. In this manner, he
played a crucial part and left a deep imprint on almost all the
major policy decisions taken during the 10 years of the UPA
Even as the President of India, a post of more
ceremonial significance in a Parliamentary Democracy, he strove to
be a catalyst on issues of critical importance to the country.
During his five years in the Rashtrapati Bhavan, the largest
office-cum-residence of any head of state in the world with its
sprawling lawns and gardens, the Former President transformed his
Presidency into what is now famously known as the 'People's
Presidency'. He threw open the vast estate to the people and
encouraged their participation in several activities taken during
the Presidency. It brought throngs of people to the estate and by
the end of his Presidency over five million people visited
Rashtrapati Bhavan and its precincts, the majority taking advantage
of the liberalised access to visit the world famous Mughal Gardens
situated across the President's Study.
As the President, he reached out to millions in
the country and abroad by starting a twitter account and an
interactive Facebook platform to encourage their participation and
involvement in several new innovative programmes of Rashtrapati
Bhavan. They included workshops to sensitise people and promote
schemes for environmental protection, gender equality, innovation
and skill development, for which various In-Residence programmes
were launched. Through this programme,
artists/innovators/scholars/teachers/students were able to reside in
Rashtrapati Bhavan as a guest of the President for up to a month.
Here they interacted with important people, worked in the areas of
their expertise in the quiet of the precincts and returned as change
agents of the society.
Another area of focused attention was innovation
and its importance for the development of especially semi-urban and
rural areas. To give innovations a platform for exhibition,
celebrate and promote scientific temperament and technological
innovation at the grass root level and disseminate information on
them at a pan-Indian level, the Festival of Innovation was started
at Rashtrapati Bhavan and held at regular intervals.
Prominent among the new initiatives were the
efforts taken to promote higher education in the country. Towards
this goal, the Visitor's Conferences of Vice
Chancellors/Directors/Director Generals of Institutions of Higher
Learning were held to formulate strategies, many of which are under
Taking the Presidency to the people, a 13-volume
documentation of the history and the various aspects of Rashtrapati
Bhavan was published besides providing online access to the library
containing rare publications.
One of the major efforts was to create
facilities for the people to better appreciate the important events
in the nation, many of which the Rashtrapati Bhavan was a witness
to. Two museums were built covering a space of over 11,000 square
meters to house documents, artefacts and erect story-telling events
relating to India's freedom struggle.
Over 60 cultural programmes were also staged in
Rashtrapati Bhavan to encourage and promote the kaleidoscopic
cultural facets of the country. Several initiatives were taken to
promote the happiness and wellness of the 7000 odd inhabitants of
Rashtrapati Bhavan. The 4S initiative consisted of programmes for
different age groups- 'Samagam,' for senior citizens 'Sparsh,' for
differently abled children, 'Sanskar' for nutritional requirements
of children and 'Sanskriti' for the holistic development of children
A pilot project of SmartTownships was initiated
in the President's Estate. It has now transformed into the SmarTgram
Initiative to develop 100 villages of Haryana into Humane, Happy and
Hi-tech villages in collaboration with the State Government, NGOs,
public and private individuals. This work is now being taken forward
through the Pranab Mukherjee Foundation. The Former President is a
recipient of several awards and honours including India's second
highest civilian award, the Padma Vibhushan in 2008 and the Best
Parliamentarian Award in 1997.
What perhaps the Former President will be most
remembered in history for his scholastic temperament, his unwavering
commitment to development through inclusive growth, his unflinching
adherence to pluralism, rule of law and constitutionalism. To him,
the last three are the keystones of democracy that have sustained
India especially during the trying decades in the immediate
aftermath of the nation's Independence. These pillars he has
safeguarded zealously, without fear or favour, even during
challenging times and in the face of adversarial circumstances that
future historical research may testify.
The constitutionalist in him has chiselled
policies for stability in an often chaotic political arena. He held
key portfolios of foreign, defence and finance, where at times he
was regarded as the ‘Chanakya’, taking India towards the top in the
global locus of affairs. Many landmark events in political and
economic process of India has imprints of Shri Mukherjee’s critical
thinking and intellect. His objectivity and dedication towards the
ultimate ethos of constitutional values has gained him admirers
across party affiliations. His scholarship and impassioned oration
brings alive events, both recorded and unrecorded for those who get
the privilege of listening to him. His love for a student-centric
communication is finding expression through an interactive format
‘Pranab Sir ki Pathshala’.
His belief in pluralism, subscription to
inclusiveness and commitment to the people of this country
gratuitous and giving to the nation. His tenure as President has
transformed the Rashtrapati Estate into a Smart Township giving a
draft model for others to replicate.
The conferring of the Bharat Ratna in 2019
embodied his various accolades, awards and ‘Doctor of Laws (Honoris
Causa)’ by various national and international institutions. Now, his
disciplined reading of philosophy and polity provides us at PMF, the
required guidance and impetus to pursue academic research and
developmental activities in rural areas of India. a multifarious
field(s) of research.
The Former President was married to late Smt.
Suvra Mukherjee, an accomplished singer of Rabindra Sangeet and an
artist. He has two sons and a daughter. A man of simple taste,
Former President Mukherjee, enjoys reading, gardening and music in
his spare time. His life and works are compass that guide all our
initiatives at the Pranab Mukherjee Foundation.
(Official Website of Shri Pranab Mukherjee -
Twitter Account - https://twitter.com/CitiznMukherjee