Bharat Ratna Pranab Mukherjee: Life & Lessons

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A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus, but a molder of consensus. — Martin Luther King, Jr.

Pranab Mukherjee, in full Shri Pranab Kumar Mukherjee, (born December 11, 1935, Mirati, in Birbhum district, West Bengal, India—died August 31, 2020, Delhi, Indian politician and government official who served as president of India (2012–17). He did his education in M.A. (History), M.A. (Political Science), LL.B., D. Litt. (Honoris Causa) Educated at Vidyasagar College, Suri, Calcutta University, and West Bengal.

The lifestyle of Pranab Mukherjee

On 13 July 1957, Pranab Mukherjee got married to Suvra Mukherjee, who was from Narail in Bangladesh and migrated at the age of 10 years to Kolkata. They have a daughter and two sons. His daughter is a Kathak dancer. Abhijit Mukherjee, his elder son, contested from the Jangipur in West Bengal in the by-elections and became a Congress MP when his father vacated the seat of Jangipur. Before this, Abhijit Mukherjee remained an MLA from a place called Nalhati in the Birbhum District.

Every year Pranab Mukherjee makes it a point to celebrate the Durga Puja with his family and natives at his ancestral place in the village of Mirati. His hobbies include music, reading, and gardening. He succeeded Pratibha Patil (served 2007–12), India’s first woman president.

Mukherjee’s father, Kamada Kinkar Mukherjee, was deeply involved in India’s struggle for independence from Great Britain in the first half of the 20th century. A long-time member of the Indian National Congress (Congress Party), the elder Mukherjee spent several years in prison as a result of his activities opposing British rule and, after Indian independence, held a seat in the state legislature of West Bengal (1952–64). Pranab was educated at the Suri Vidyasagar College (then affiliated with the University of Calcutta), and he later earned an advanced degree in history and political science as well as a law degree from the university. In 1963 he accepted a teaching position at a small college near Calcutta (now Kolkata) that was associated with the university. He also became editor of a Bengali-language monthly periodical and, later, worked for a weekly publication.

The career of Pranab Mukherjee

Mukherjee first ran for public office in 1969, when he won a seat in the Rajya Sabha (upper house) of the Indian parliament as a member of the Bangla Congress, which soon merged with the Congress Party. He served an additional four terms, although he left that chamber in 2004 and contested and won a seat in the Lok Sabha (lower house). He served there until mid-2012 when he ran for president of India.

Early on in his career in the legislature, Mukherjee became a protégé of Indira Gandhi, prime minister of India in 1966–77 and 1980–84. Under her tutelage, he began in 1973 to fill administrative positions of increasing responsibility in the cabinet, and in 1982 he was named to the important post of minister of finance. Following the assassination of Gandhi in 1984, however, Mukherjee had a falling out with Rajiv Gandhi, her son and successor (1984–89) as prime minister, and was relegated to the political backwater. He subsequently left the Congress Party in 1986 and by early 1987 had formed his small political party. By 1989, however, the two men had been reconciled, and Mukherjee had merged his group back into Congress.

Mukherjee’s fortunes improved in 1991 when, after Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated, P.V. Narasimha Rao took leadership of Congress and, after the party’s success in parliamentary elections, was named prime minister. Under Rao (who served until 1996) and the party’s Manmohan Singh (who became prime minister in 2004), Mukherjee held most of the major ministerial portfolios in the cabinet: commerce (1993–95), external affairs (1995–96 and 2006–09), defense (2004–06), and finally back to finance (2009–12). He also occupied several important legislative posts, including leader of the Rajya Sabha (1980–84), Congress Party whip in the upper house (1996–2004), and leader of the Lok Sabha (2004–12). In addition to his government activities in India, Mukherjee was involved with several prominent international organizations, most notably occupying seats on the boards of governors of the African Development Bank, the Asian Development Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the World Bank during his two stints as finance minister.

In June 2012 the Congress Party chose Mukherjee as its candidate for the Indian presidency. Because the office is nonpartisan, he resigned from the Lok Sabha (also relinquishing the Finance Ministry) and the party. He easily won the July 19 election and was sworn into office six days later. The presidency is viewed as a largely ceremonial post. However, observers noted that Mukherjee, with his decades of experience in government and politics, was more engaged in governance than most of his predecessors. In 2017 Mukherjee’s term as president ended, and he was succeeded by Ram Nath Kovind.

Honours of Pranab Mukherjee

National Honours

  • Padma Vibhushan- India’s second-highest civilian award in 2008.
  • Bharat Ratna- India’s highest civilian award in 2019.

Foreign Honours

  • Bangladesh Muktijuddho Sanmanona- Bangladesh Liberation War Honour in March 2013. s
  • Grand Cross of National Order of the Ivory Coast- highest state order of knighthood of the Ivory Coast in June 2016.
  • Grand Collar of the Order of Makarios II- the highest order of Merit awarded by Cyprus.

Academic Honours

  • Doctor of Letters degree by the University of Wolverhampton, the UK in 2011.
  • D. Litt by Assam University in March 2012.
  • D.Litt. by Visvesvaraya Technological University; Belgaum, Karnataka in 2012
  • LL.D. by President of Bangladesh and Chancellor Md. Zillur Rahman at the University of Dhaka on 4 March 2013.
  • DCL (Doctor of Civil Law) (honoris causa) by University of Mauritius on 13 March 2013.
  • Doctorate by Istanbul University on 5 October 2013.
  • Honorary Doctorate from the University of Calcutta on 28 November 2014
  • Doctorate in Political Science by University of Jordan on 11 October 2015.
  • Doctorate by Al-Quds University of Ramallah, Palestine on 13 October 2015.
  • Doctorate by Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel on 15 October 2015.
  • Doctorate by Kathmandu University, Nepal on 3 November 2016.
  • Doctorate by Goa University on 25 April 2017.
  • Litt. (Honoris Causa) by the Jadavpur University on 24 December 2017.
  • D. Litt by University of Chittagong on 16 January 2018.

Other Recognitions

  • Best Finance Minister in World (1984) – a survey by Euromoney magazine.
  • Finance Minister of Year for Asia (2010) – Emerging Markets, the daily newspaper of record for

World Bank and IMF

  • Finance Minister of Year (2010) by the Banker.
  • Honorary Citizenship of Abidjan, the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire in June 2016. 

Books Written by Pranab Mukherjee

  • Midterm Poll
  • Beyond Survival: Emerging Dimensions of Indian Economy – 1984
  • Off the Track – 1987
  • The saga of Struggle and Sacrifice – 1992
  • Challenges before the Nation – 1992[13]
  • A Centenary History of the Indian National Congress – Vol. V: Volume-V: 1964-1984 – 2011
  • Congress and the Making of the Indian Nation – 2011
  • Thoughts and Reflections – 2014
  • The Dramatic Decade: The Indira Gandhi Years – 2014
  • Selected Speeches – Pranab Mukherjee – 2015
  • The Turbulent Years: 1980 – 1996″ – 2016
  • The Coalition Years

Pranab Mukherjee: Death

On August 10, 2020, Pranab Mukherjee tested positive for COVID-19, before his brain surgery to remove the blood clot. On August 13, 2020, he was in a comatose state, but his vital parameters were stable as per the Army’s Research and Referral (R&R) Hospital.

On August 19, 2020, his health declined as he had developed a lung infection. On August 25, 2020, his renal parameters became slightly deranged. Since then, his condition started declining.

On August 31, 2020, the hospital stated that he was in septic shock since a day earlier caused by the lung infection. In the evening, his son Abhijit Mukherjee confirmed via Twitter about his death.



Written by Kritikaa Bhatt

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