Follow Us:

Know India’s First Citizens since Independence

SNS | New Delhi |

From first President Rajendra Prasad to newly elected Ram Nath Kovind, the Rashtrapati Bhavan has hosted all the first citizens with love and care. Here is a list of those who occupied the most coveted post of the country.

Ram Nath Kovind (2017-): A Dalit leader from Kanpur and an advocate by profession, India’s 14th President Ram Nath Kovind was born on 1 October 1945 at Kanpur Dehat, Uttar Pradesh. He is a former president of the BJP Dalit Morcha. He also served as the national spokesperson of the party. He took over as Governor of Bihar on 8 August 2015 and resigned from the office recently after he was picked as the nominee for the presidential poll. He was elected twice to the Rajya Sabha from Uttar Pradesh — 1994-2000 and 2000-2006. He is married to Savita Kovind and has a son, Prashant Kumar, who is married, and a daughter, Swati.

Pranab Mukherjee (2012 – 2017): He is the 13th President of India, he had been in office since 25 July 2012. He will demit office on 25 July 2017. In a political career spanning six decades, Mukherjee was a senior leader of the Indian National Congress and occupied several ministerial portfolios in the Government of India. Mukherjee got his break in politics in 1969 when Prime Minister Indira Gandhi helped him get elected to the Rajya Sabha on a Congress ticket.

Pratibha Patil (2007 – 2012): Patil was the first woman to become the 12th President of India. A member of the Indian National Congress, Patil previously served as the Governor of Rajasthan from 2004 to 2007. During her tenure, she commuted death sentence in 19 cases and rejected petitions of three.

APJ Abdul Kalam (2002 – 2007): Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam was the 11th President of India from 2002 to 2007. A career scientist-turned-statesman, Kalam was intimately involved in India's civilian space programme and military missile development efforts. He was known as the Missile Man of India for his work on the development of ballistic missile and launch vehicle technology. He was the first scientist to become a President in 2002. Kalam was affectionately known as the People's President and also received the Bharat Ratna.

Kocheril Raman Narayanan (1997 – 2002): Popularly known as KR Naranayanan, he was the 10th President of India. He served as ambassador to Japan, United Kingdom, Thailand, Turkey, China and the US. He was referred to by Nehru as 'the best diplomat of the country'. Elected as the ninth Vice President in 1992, Narayanan went on to become first Dalit-origin President in 1997. He was the first – and, so far, only – member of the Dalit community, to hold the post.

Shankar Dayal Sharma (1992 – 1997): He was the ninth President and eighth Vice President of the country. He was also chief minister (1952–1956) of Bhopal, and Cabinet Minister (1956–1967), holding the portfolios of Education, Law, Public Works, Industry and Commerce, National Resources and Separate Revenue. He was the President of the Indian National Congress in 1972–1974 and returned to the government as Union Minister for Communications from 1974 to 1977. The International Bar Association presented Sharma with the 'Living Legends of Law Award of Recognition' for his outstanding contribution to the legal profession.

R Venkataraman (1987 – 1992): A lawyer, Indian independence activist and politician, Ramaswamy Venkataraman was the eighth President of India. He was elected to Lok Sabha four times and served as Union Finance Minister and Defence Minister. He also served as a State minister under K Kamaraj and M Bhaktavatsalam.

Giani Zail Singh (1982 – 1987): He was the seventh President of India serving from 1982 to 1987. He was a politician with the Indian National Congress party before becoming the President. His presidency was marked by Operation Blue Star, the assassination of Indira Gandhi, and the 1984 anti-Sikh riots. He died of injuries in 1994 after a car accident.

Neelam Sanjiva Reddy (1977 – 1982): Reddy was the sixth President of India, serving from 1977 to 1982. Beginning a long political career with the Indian National Congress party in the Indian independence movement, he went on to hold several key offices in independent India—as the first Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, a two-time Speaker of the Lok Sabha and a Union Minister—before becoming the youngest-ever Indian president.

Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed (1974 – 1977): He was the second Muslim to be elected as the fifth President of India from 1974 to 1977 and also the second President of India to die in office. He served as the President during the time of Emergency.

VV Giri (1969-1974): Varahagiri Venkata Giri, also known as VV Giri, was the fourth President of India from 24 August 1969 to 24 August 1974. As President, he was the only person to be elected as an independent candidate and later was succeeded by Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed as President in 1974. After end of his term, he was honoured with the Bharat Ratna in 1975.

Dr Zakir Hussain (1967 – 1969): He was the third President of India, from 13 May 1967 until his death on 3 May 1969. An educator and intellectual, Husain was the country's first Muslim president, and also the first to die in office. He was also the shortest serving President of India. He served as Governor of Bihar from 1957 to 1962 and as Vice President of India from 1962 to 1967. He was the co-founder of Jamia Milia Islamia, serving as its Vice Chancellor from 1928.

Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan (1962 – 1967): An Indian philosopher and statesman, he was the first Vice President of India (1952–1962) and the second President of India. He was one of the first to receive the Bharat Ratna, in 1954, and was also the first to lead the line of five Presidents to receive the Bharat Ratna till now. He was awarded with a knighthood in 1931 and honorary membership of the British Royal Order of Merit in 1963.

Rajendra Prasad (1950 – 1962): When India became a Republic in 1950, Prasad was elected its first President by the Constituent Assembly. Following the general election of 1951, he was elected President by the electoral college of the first Parliament of India and its state legislatures. As President, Prasad established a tradition of non-partisanship and independence for the office-bearer and retired from Congress party politics. Prasad encouraged the development of education in India and advised the Nehru government on several occasions.