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Bharat Ratna Pranab Da

Former President of India and veteran Congress leader Pranab Mukherjee deserves a big Kudos for being awarded the highest civilian honour of India, the Bharat Ratna Award. Among the long list of presidential candidates, Pranab da was elected as the President of India in 2012. Pranab da began his career as an upper division clerk in the office of the Deputy Accountant-General (Post and Telegraph) in Calcutta. He got involved in the politics of the Indian National Congress in 1969. He is a man full of energy, spirit, and vision. He remained as an efficient President and had worked to improve India’s diplomatic ties and took quick decisions on mercy petitions.

Pranab da is an inspirational figure who began his political career with the Indian National Congress in 1969 under Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. He became one of her top lieutenants and was often described as her “man for all seasons”. His rise was meteoric in the early phase of his career and he became a cabinet minister in Indira Gandhi’s government in 1973. He was sent to the Rajya Sabha by the Congress in 1975, 1981, 1993, and 1999. He has played a critical role in Congress since joining. He was a close associate of Indira Gandhi at the time of Emergency. His political journey took shape in different political parties. Pranab da’s political skills and long experience in government have led him to head a large number of committees of Ministers in the government. Prime Minister PV Narasimha Rao appointed him as the deputy chairman of the Indian planning commission and subsequently as the union Cabinet Minister. This was the beginning of his second stint in the Congress.

It reminds me Pranab da’s statement when he said in his farewell broadcast to the nation at the time when he demitted office as President in 2017 that “The highest honour in our democracy does not lie in any office but in being a citizen of India, our motherland.”

He was earlier honoured with Padma Vibhusan, India’s second highest civilian award, in 2008. He has also been given the Best Parliamentarian Award in 1997 and Best Administrator in India Award in 2011. He is very well respected within the party social circles. He became the first Bengali to hold the post of President of India. 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. We are delighted that he has been conferred the Bharat Ratna. There is no doubt that his contribution is immense to public service and nation building who is recognised and honoured with Bharat Ratna. Pranab da’s success as a Finance Minister was marked by the last loan payment of IMF. As a Finance Minister, he implemented several tax modifications such as the Fringe Benefits and the Commodities Transaction Tax. He even modified goods and commodity tax. 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 also declared ‘Finance Minister of the year’ for Asia in 2010 by “Emerging Markets”, the journal of record for the World Bank and the IMF. Pranab da addressed the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh cadre at the organisation’s final leg of three-year training programme called the ‘Tritiya Varsh Varg’ in Nagpur last year which raised many eyebrows, including in his own party, the Congress.

During his Presidential years, he and PM Modi enjoyed a very cordial relationship and established a good working rapport. Pranab da said, “The dynamism of our Constitution exemplified in the ideals of Justice, Liberty, Equality and Fraternity sets the tone of our development. We must strive to protect and preserve these foundational ethics.” I would like to conclude with the line twitted by PM Modi that “His wisdom and intellect have few parallels. Delighted that he has been conferred the Bharat Ratna.”


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