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Life of Shri Pranab Mukherjee

A man of humble origins, Shri Mukherjee was born in the small village of Mirati in Birbhum District of West Bengal as the son of freedom fighters, Shri Kamada Kinkar Mukherjee and Rajlakshmi on December 11, 1935. Shri Mukherjee’s father was a Congress leader who endured great hardship including being sent to jail several times for his role in India’s struggle for independence. Shri Mukherjee acquired a Master’s degree in History and Political Science as well as a degree in Law from the University of Kolkata. He then embarked on his professional life as a college teacher and journalist. Inspired by his father’s contribution to the national movement, Shri Mukherjee in 1969 plunged into full-time public life following his election to the Upper House of the Parliament (Rajya Sabha).

His career began when he served as the campaign manager of V.K. Krishna Menon’s by-election campaign (independent candidate) in Midnapore. Later on, impressed by his skills and knowledge, Ms. Indira Gandhi recruited him to the Indian National Congress in 1969. Throughout his career, he was elected 5 times to the Rajya Sabha from 1969 and 2 times to the Lok Sabha from 2004. He served as the Union Finance Minister from 1982 to 1984 in Indira Gandhi’s cabinet where he appointed Manmohan Singh as the Governor of RBI in 1982. During this time of his career, he played an instrumental role in setting up the Regional Rural Banks (1975) and the EXIM Bank of India as well as the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (1981-82). He also founded his political party the ‘Rashtriya Samajwadi Congress’ in West Bengal in 1986 but due to an enormous debacle in the 1987 Assemble election of Bengal, the party was later merged with the INC in 1989. His career was shaken a bit due to the assassination of Indira Gandhi in 1984 but it picked up the pace again when he was appointed as the Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission from 1991 to 1996 followed by Minister for Commerce from 1993 to 1995 and Minister of External Affairs from 1995 to 1996.

In 2004, he contested the election from Jangipur, West Bengal, and was elected as the Leader of the House of Lok Sabha. During Manmohan Singh’s dual Prime Ministerial term, Mukherjee held various important portfolios including Minister of Finance, Defense, and External Affairs. Simultaneously he also held the position of West Bengal Congress President from 2000 till 2010. During the period 2004-2012, he was instrumental in spearheading critical decisions of the Government on a range of issues such as Administrative reforms, Right to Information, Right to Employment, Food Security, Energy Security, Information Technology and telecommunication, setting up of UIDAI, Metro Rail, etc. through Chairmanship of over 95 Groups of Ministers constituted for the purpose.

In 2012, Mukherjee ended his affiliation with the Indian National Congress and retired from active political life following his election as President in 2012.

The many awards and honours conferred on him include India’s second-highest civilian award, Padma Vibhushan in 2008, the Best Parliamentarian Award in 1997, and the Best Administrator in India Award in 2011. He is a recipient of Doctor of Laws Honoris Causa conferred by the University of Dhaka in 2013; and Honoris Causa conferred by the University of Calcutta in 2014; Honorary Doctorate conferred by the Russian Diplomatic Academy in 2015, and Professor Honoris Causa conferred by the Belarus State University in 2015. Honorary Doctorate conferred by the University of Jordan in 2015; Honorary Doctorate conferred by Al-Quds University, Palestine in 2015; and Honorary Doctorate conferred by Hebrew University, Israel in 2015 and Honorary Doctorate conferred by the Kathmandu University, Nepal in 2016. He was rated one of the best five Finance Ministers of the world in 1984 according to a survey conducted by "Euro Money” Journal published from New York and was declared ‘Finance Minister of the year’ for Asia in 2010 by "Emerging Markets”, the journal of record for the World Bank and the IMF.

A prolific reader, Shri Mukherjee has authored several books on the Indian Economy and Nation Building –

  1. Beyond Survival: Emerging Dimensions of Indian Economy – 1984

  2. Off the Track – 1987

  3. The Saga of Struggle and Sacrifice – 1992

  4. Challenges Before the Nation – 1992

  5. Thoughts and Reflections – 2014

  6. The Dramatic Decade: The Indira Gandhi Years’ – 2014

  7. The Turbulent Years:1980-1996 – 2016

  8. The Coalition Years: 1996-2012 – 2017


· Hindustan Times

· The Hindu

· Official Government Profile of the President

· Britannica

· Press Information Bureau of India

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