A Tribute To A Prudent Statesman : Pranab Mukherjee
I have seen vast, perhaps unbelievable, changes during the journey that has brought me from the flicker of a lamp in a small Bengal village to the chandeliers of Delhi.
The words belong to the only non-prime minister who was the leader of the Lok Sabha for eight years, Pranab Mukherjee. Being recognized as one of the sharpest minds and a prudent politician, he forsook the worldly accomplishments and departed to the heavenly abode on 31 August 2020. This article is a tribute to an extraordinary personality who has left a void behind him, which can never be filled.
Pranab Mukherjee was awarded the second-highest civilian award of the Republic of India, Padma Vibhushan in 2008 and the highest civilian award of the Republic of India, Bharat Ratna in 2019. He has been honoured by 14 doctorates by various universities in an array of fields. Mukherjee has headed 15 offices in the cabinet and was the only President to be an ex-Finance Minister, Defense Minister, and Minister of External Affairs. He has written over 10 books and was considered a brilliant scholar and a voracious reader.
Mr Mukherjee has achieved numerous feats throughout his career. Team MM brings you a short sail through his life for you to acknowledge his memorable contributions to the country.
The former President of India, Mr Mukherji, was born into a Bengali Brahmin family in Mirati, a village in the Bengal Presidency of British India. Mukherjee attended Suri Vidyasagar College, which was then affiliated to the University of Calcutta. He subsequently earned an MA degree in political science and history and an LL.B. degree, both from the University of Calcutta.
He was an upper-division Clerk in the Office of the Deputy Accountant-General in Calcutta. In 1963, he became a lecturer of Political Science at Vidyanagar College, Kolkata.
Tenure as Finance Minister
Mr Mukherjee first became the Finance Minister of India in 1982 when under the leadership of Indira Gandhi. He presented his first annual budget in 1982-83. His first notable work was returning the last instalment of India’s first IMF loan. During his tenure, he appointed Dr Manmohan Singh as the Governor of the RBI in 1982.
He was soon recognized as the reformer of the Indian economy. According to a survey by Euro money magazine, Mr Mukherjee was rated as the best Finance Minister in the World for the year 1984. Still, he was replaced that year only to be given an even higher position in the Rajiv Gandhi’s team of staff. Mukherjee once again became the Finance Minister of India in 2009.
He implemented many tax reforms, including scrapping the Fringe Benefits Tax and the Commodities Transaction Tax. He implemented the Goods and Services Tax during his tenure. Although these reforms received both praises and criticism, Mukherjee expanded funding for several social sector schemes including the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission. He also supported budget increases for improving literacy and health care. He expanded infrastructure programs such as the National Highway Development Program.
He was awarded ‘Finance Minister of the Year for Asia’ by Emerging Markets in 2010 and as ‘Finance Minister of the Year’ by The Banker.
Ministry of External Affairs
Mr Mukherjee was nominated External Affairs Minister of India in 1995. Under his leadership, India was made ‘Full Dialogue Partner’ of ASEAN as part of the Look East foreign policy. He left the position in 1996 and was again assigned in 2006. He oversaw the profitable signing of the U.S.-India Civil Nuclear Agreement.
He played an integral role in mobilizing world viewpoint against Pakistan after the 2008 Mumbai attacks. He left the position a year later to take over the Finance Ministry of India.
When asked what bequest he wanted to leave behind as Foreign Minister of India, Mr Mukherjee replied,
As the [man] who prepared Indian diplomacy to address the challenges of a more globalized, interdependent and uncertain world.
Tenure As the President Of India
Shri Pranab Mukherjee inferred office as the 13th President of India on July 25, 2012, crowning a political career of over five decades of outstanding service to the nation in Government as adequately as Parliament. He took several initiatives in numerous domains of life which would go a long way to inspire several ages to come. He promulgated 26 ordinances during his term.
During the last two years of his presidency, he held classes at a school within the premises of the Rashtrapati Bhavan. He launched 'Smartgram' on July 2, 2016, to intending to develop villages into Humane, Happy and Hi-Tech townships. One of the landmark initiatives for achieving this was the In-Residence Programme. This program was envisaged to motivate the creative and innovative potential of the people and opening up Rashtrapati Bhavan for greater participation and involvement of citizens in its activities.
A large number of programs in the field of education, skill development, infrastructure development, agriculture, health, and clean energy were implemented under his reign at the Rashtrapati Bhavan, and even after his tenure is over, his contributions as the President of India would be remembered for a long time to come.
On his demise, the Hon’ble President of India, Ram Nath Kovind tweeted,
Sad to hear that former President Shri Pranab Mukherjee is no more. His demise is the passing of an era. A colossus in public life, he served Mother India with the spirit of a sage. The nation mourns losing one of its worthiest sons. Condolences to his family, friends & all citizens.
Pranab da's rich political, parliamentary, and administrative experience and how he conducted himself in the high office gave him the aura of a statesman. Still, the office of the prime minister eluded him. Apart from his political acuity, he is reputed for his powerful oratory skills and intellectual prowess. He will be remembered for having lived a full life as a public figure. His departure leaves as gaping a void in our nation’s life.
It is that Pranab Da’ who, we believe, is irreplaceable. A genius has left us.