Pranab Mukherjee, the former President of India, will be presented India's highest civilian award, Bharat Ratna, by President Ram Nath Kovind on 8 August. Popularly known as 'Pranab Da', this Congress stalwart served as India's 13th President and handled numerous significant posts and ministries in his five-decade-long political career.
On the occasion of the award ceremony, let us revisit the journey of this exemplary leader.Childhood And Early Life
He was born on 11 December, 1935, in a small village named Mirati, in the Birbhum district of West Bengal. He belongs to a Bengali Brahmin family. His father Kamada Kinkar Mukherjee was a freedom-fighter and took part in the Indian independence movement. His mother, Rajlakshmi Mukherjee was a homemaker. After completing graduation from Suri Vidyasagar College in Suri, Birbhum, he simultaneously earned master's degrees in Political Science and History and LLB degree, both from the University of Calcutta.
He was as an upper-division clerk in the Office of Deputy Accountant-General (Post and Telegraph) in Kolkata. He worked as a lecturer of Political Science and also as a journalist before entering politics.Political Career
The former Prime Minister of India, Indira Gandhi, recruited him to the National Indian Congress, after he led the campaign of a candidate in the Midnapore by-election in 1969. He became a member of Rajya Sabha in July 1969. He was handed the responsibility of the Finance ministry in 1982. As Finance Minister, he signed a letter appointing Manmohan Singh as the Governor of the Reserve Bank of India.
He kept himself away from the political scene for a few years after the assassination of Indira Gandhi. His political career revived after the death of Rajiv Gandhi in 1991 when the next Prime Minister PV Narsimha Rao chose him to be a union cabinet minister. He also served as External Affairs Minister for the first time from 1995 to 1996 during the regime of PM Rao. He is believed to have mentored Sonia Gandhi for entering politics. This experienced legislator became Leader of the house in Lok Sabha in 2004.
He went onto handle many significant posts in the Manmohan Singh government. Apart from administering the Defence, Finance, Commerce and External Affairs ministries, he also led the Congress Legislative Party that consisted of all the Congress MPs and MLAs in the country. He was the President of Bengal Pradesh Congress Committee for a long time.
Pranab Mukherjee retired from mainstream politics in 2012 to file his nomination for the Presidential poll. He sworn-in as the President of India on 25 July 2012 and he is the first Bengali to hold this prestigious post.
Honours And Accolades
Prior to receiving Bharat Ratna, he was honoured with Padma Vibhushan in 2008. He was awarded foreign honours like Bangladesh Liberation War Honour (5 March 2013; Bangladesh), Grand Cross of National Order of the Ivory Coast (June 2016; Ivory Coast)), Grand Collar of the Order of Makarios III (28 April 2017; Cyprus). He received Honorary Doctorate and Honorary D.Litt. degrees from a number of universities from all over the world.
Upon the announcement of Bharat Ratna, former President expressed his gratitude on Twitter, "It is with a deep sense of humility and gratitude to the people of India that I accept this great honour #BharatRatna bestowed upon me."
PM Narendra Modi and Congress leader Rahul Gandhi congratulated him for this exceptional achievement. PM Modi's congratulatory tweet read, "Pranab Da is an outstanding statesman of our times. He has served the nation selflessly and tirelessly for decades, leaving a strong imprint on the nation's growth trajectory. His wisdom and intellect have few parallels. Delighted that he has been conferred the Bharat Ratna".