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  • President Of India

    Shankar Dayal Sharma

    Period-25-Jul-1992 to 25-Jul-1997

    Political party-Indian National Congress

    Born On: August 19, 1918
    Born In: Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh
    Died On: December 26, 1999
    Career: Indian Politician, Teacher
    Nationality: Indian

    Dr. Shankar Dayal Sharma was the ninth President of India, serving from 1992 to 1997. But his contribution to India has been much more than that. He was a scholar, holding an extraordinary portfolio of educational qualifications. He was also a journalist and wrote on diverse topics, from history to literature, philosophy to comparative religions, and many more articles. Additionally, he was also a renowned freedom fighter, actively involved in the Indian Freedom Movement and took part in various campaigns. Furthermore, he was a dedicated politician, handled many portfolios including education, law, public works etc and held many high positions in Indian politics before he was made the President. The respect he had earned during his lifetime rightly got him many honors and honorable positions. The following part will throw more light on the life and political career of Dr Shankar Dayal Sharma and on the honors that he received.

    Early Life

    Shankar Dayal Sharma was born on 19th August 1918 in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh to father Khushilal Sharma and mother Subhadra Sharma. He received his education from various institutions. Starting with St. John's College, he then got educated at Agra College after which he studied at Allahabad University. He obtained L.L.M from Lucknow University, and obtained his Ph D in Law from Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge University. Later on he was awarded with a Diploma in Public Administration from London University. If this wasn't enough, he also taught law at Lucknow University for 9 years and later at Cambridge University. Sharma was a Bar-at-Law from Lincoln's Inn and even became a Fellow of the Harvard Law School. Not only was he good in studies, but he even excelled as a sportsman in athletics, rowing, and swimming. He even tried his hand in journalism by writing on diverse topics such as history, art & culture, philosophy, poetry, literature, and comparative religions. Quite a few of his publications, editorial assignments, articles, and addresses got recognition. At the time he was studying and teaching, he was actively involved in India's Freedom Movement against the British.

    Political Career

    Sharma's political career started during the 1940s when he patriotically involved himself in the Indian freedom movement by participating in the historic Quit India Movement of 1942, initiated because of Mahatma Gandhi's call for immediate independence. It was around the same time when he joined the Indian National Congress, a party under which he fought and was elected many times at numerous positions and remained faithful to it till the very end. It was from 1950 to 1952 that he served as the president of the Bhopal Congress Committee and in the very same year was made the Chief Minister of Bhopal, where he served till the year 1956. It was as the Chief Minister of Bhopal that he put all his efforts to abolish the the jagirdar system prevalent in India.

    From the year 1956 to 1971, he remained a member of the Madhya Pradesh legislative assembly. All in between the years he supported Indira Gandhi's efforts to gain leadership of the congress party. In 1959, when UNESCO conference for the primary and secondary education was held at Karachi, he was the leader of the Indian Delegation. With short stints in quick successions, from being the President of the Madhya Pradesh Congress Committee to being the General Secretary of the Indian National Congress and by further serving as the President of the Indian National Congress; it was finally in the year 1974 that he was made the Union Minister for Communications under the leadership of Indira Gandhi and served till 1977.

    Again, with short stints as the Governor of Andhra Pradesh, Punjab, and Maharashtra in 1984, 1985, and 1986 respectively; Dr. Shankar Dayal Sharma proved his credentials as a qualified politician and a leader. In the year 1987, he became the eighth Vice President of India and was also made the Chairman of Rajya Sabha. He served as the Vice President of India for a five-year long term till 1992, when he took over the proceedings from Ramaswamy Venkataraman and was made the ninth President of India. During his stay as the President of India, it was his responsibility to swear in three Prime Ministers and was actively involved in the ceremonial matters. However, because of poor health, he not run for the next term of Presidency.

    Honors and Honorable Positions

    The Shankaracharya of Sringeri bestowed Dr. Shankar Dayal Sharma with the title of Rashtra Ratnam. Another prestigious title of Dharmaratnakara was conferred upon him by the Pontiff of Shravanbelagola. For his striking contribution to the the legal profession and its obeisance, he was presented with 'The Living Legends of Law' award from the International Bar Association. Sharma also held numerous honorable positions such as the President of Indian Council for Cultural Relations, President of the Indian Institute of Public Administration, Chairman of the Jury for Jawahar Lal Nehru Award for International Understanding, and Chairman of the International Jury for Indira Gandhi Prize for Peace, Disarmament, and development.


    Ill health had got the better of Dr. Shankar Dayal Sharma and during the last five years, it made life difficult for him. It was on 26th December, 1999 that Dr Shankar Dayal Sharma died of a major heart attack in New Delhi and was cremated at Karma Bhumi near Vijay Ghat.

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