Pranab Mukherjee as a President has left behind a legacy that’d be revered and remembered
From his humble backgrounds as a teacher in rural Birbhum to his rise as one of the finest Statesman of the country; Pranab Mukherjee’s tenure as President of India is a trend-setter in some ways.
Though a nominal head of the state, the Constitution of India provides for Administrative, Military, Legislative and Judicial Power to the President of India. In consideration of all these powers, Pranab Mukherjee has set some precedents that’ll serve as a manual for the future.
Non-Partisan Decision Making
Despite playing pivotal ministerial roles in both UPA-I and UPA-II, Pranab Mukherjee has been praised by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself for not comparing or judging his government’s decision with that of previous government(s), and in fact considering them in present context and realities alone.
Reinventing the stature
During his tenure, Rashtrapati Bhavan was able to shed its image of being an inaccessible palatial building that serves as a residence to President of India. By opening the Museum at Rashtrapati Bhavan, President Mukherjee rejuvenated a heritage that longed for its historical recognition amidst the common masses. This state-of-art “speaking” museum comes with a high-tech conservation laboratory, cyber library and resource centre, and information bank.
Further, by making its magnificent facades, gardens and halls open to be access for common people as visitors, President Mukherjee’s this initiative can be fondly called as ‘Democratisation of Rashtrapati Bhavan’ in order to make it exquisite tourism spot.
Prominence of Rashtrapati Bhavan got a boost, when it developed its own blu-ticked Twitter handle. This long-awaited social media connection of the Office of the President of India has been very well received and has played a pivotal role in syncing Rashtrapati Bhavan with the spirit of Digital India.
The recent in-residence programmes provided the artists and writers a prized creative outlet i.e. living the Rashtrapati Bhavan life for two weeks. This could be perhaps one of the most novel approach by any President to encourage and support talent.
The novelty extended to the dwellers inside President’s Estate as well. President Mukherjee’s four ‘S’ initiatives can be called as one of its kind concern for their overall wellbeing.
While ‘Sanskriti’ aimed at extracurricular development of children residing inside President estate, ‘Sanskar’ is meant to support nutritional requirements of children of Rashtrapati Bhawan Play School. ‘Sparsh’ is the respite centre for children with special needs, ‘Samagam’ provided for senior citizens get-together each afternoon during the weekdays.
A Pranab Mukherjee public library has also been opened in the President’s Estate for the use of its residents. President Mukherjee made the state Landau or the Buggy have a refurbished tryst with modern history after almost 30 years.
Divesting of VIP Culture
He is the first President to officially emancipate himself of “his excellency” tag, a colonial lineage; and directed being referred as “Hon’ble President” for the purpose of protocol way back in 2012.
Furthermore, in an novel attempt to free public and security agencies from the hassle of VIP movement across the city, President Mukherjee instructed Union Home Ministry to organise to the best possible extent, all the programmes and events in the premises of Rashtrapati Bhavan itself.
Unhesitant display of Pardoning Power
President Mukherjee rejected a record 35 mercy petitions, which is more than the combined mercy applications rejected by his predecessors. He credibly displayed that gone are the days when the highest executive office used to sit on mercy petitions inconclusively.
As a President, Pranab Mukherjee left no stone unturned to participate in public discourse. His esteemed views on debate concerning Free-Speech, Intolerance and Lynching played a pivotal role in shaping the direction of such discourse and provided for a platform for open
discussion on agendas of national importance.
Overall, Pranab Mukherjee’s tenure as a President of India is a reflection of more than 50 years of his public service through active politics. His rise to country’s foremost office actualises common man’s aspirations which he often lives through his representatives. As Pranab Mukherjee call for “critical lens of history” to judge his tenure as a President; it can at this point, be very well said that his retirement will be commemorated as “Innings Well Played”.
(The writer is a freelance journalist)