Remembering “A Man of All Seasons” – Former President of India Shri Pranab Mukherjee

The Bharat Ratna Awardee Shri Pranab Mujkherjee passed away at Indian Army’s Research and Referral Hospital in New Delhi. He was 84. Mukherjee was admitted to hospital on August 10 and a health bulletin this morning said he was in a deep coma and on ventilator support.

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Pranab Mukherjee was not only a powerful orator, scholar and a statesman, but a Congress stalwart before he was elected as India’s 13th President. Prior to this he had held the posts of defence, finance, external affairs, commerce, shipping, industries ministers during the Congress and UPA regimes from time to time. He was the Best Finance Minister in World, according to a survey of Euro money magazine in 1984.

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The notes on the concessional loan and grant aid to India, exchange between the visiting Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshio Sakurauchi (l) and Finance Minister of India. Mr. Pranab Mukherjee in New Delhi on August 28, 1982. Image Courtesy: Times Group

However, he showcased his exemplary leadership right from the teenage when he had persuaded a minister to order the renovation of his school’s building that had a “thatched roof” and was in a “very bad shape”.

“During his nearly five decade old political career he has been praised as a great statesman and a leader. But let me say that he started honing his skills as leader and orator since his school days,” Mihir Chattopadhyay, Mukherjee’s classmate in Kirnahar Shib Chandra High School in West Bengal’s Birbhum district, told IANS in an interview.

“During those days our school was in a very bad shape. The country had just attained freedom. There were no doors and windows. It was a thatched roof. During that time one day our headmaster told us that a senior minister would come to the school for inspection,” Mr Chattopadhyay said.

The headmaster asked some students of Class 9 and 10 to volunteer for placing the school’s problems before the minister.

“Most of the students of Class 9 and 10 were afraid to speak before the minister. But Pranab, though a student of class 7, decided to volunteer and present the case before the minister,” Mr Chattopadhyay said.

“With his oratory and reasoning skills he convinced the minister to help the school authorities in renovating the school. The minister was so impressed that he prophesied that Pranab Mukherjee will become someone big in future,” he added.

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