Former Indian President Pranab Mukherjee passed away at the age of 84 after remaining in a coma for days at Army Hospital in New Delhi. He had sustained a head injury, following which he had to undergo emergency lifesaving surgery to remove a large brain clot. His son Abhijit Mukherjee confirmed the news on Twitter.
— Abhijit Mukherjee (@ABHIJIT_LS) August 31, 2020
Born to a family of freedom fighters in the Indian independence movement in Mirati, a village in the Bengal Presidency in 1935, Pranab Mukherjee served India as its 13th president from 2012 to 2017. He was awarded the highest civilian honour, the Bharat Ratna, in 2019.
After obtaining a degree in law, history and political science, Mukherjee began his career as a journalist before entering public life full-time in 1969 when he was elected to the upper house of the Indian parliament, Rajya Sabha. While in politics, held portfolio of Foreign, Defence, Commerce and Finance Minister at different times while the Congress Party ruled the country.
From 2004 to 2012, Mukherjee spearheaded key decisions such as administrative reforms, Right to Information and Right to Employment initiatives, and Food Security, Energy Security, Information Technology and telecommunication reforms; he is credited with the setting up of UIDAI, Metro Rail, etc.
He is also credited with setting up the Regional Rural Banks (1975) and the EXIM Bank of India as well as National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (1981-82).
Close to Indira Gandhi in his early days, Mukherjee was accused (like several other Congress leaders) of committing gross excesses during the controversial Internal Emergency of 1975–77.
In 2004, when the Congress Party returned to power, Mukherjee won a seat in the lower house, the Lok Sabha, for the first time and from then on remained significant in the Manmohan Singh-led government. In 2012, Mukherjee comfortably defeated P. A. Sangma with 70 percent of the electoral college vote in the presidential election.
With his experience in diplomacy as external affairs minister, Mukherjee also served on the Board of Governors of the IMF, the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank and the African Development Bank and led several delegations to the Commonwealth Conferences and the United Nations General Assembly.
An avid reader himself, Mukherjee authored several books on the Indian economy and nation-building such as The Coalition Years: 1996 – 2012; The Turbulent Years – 1980-1996; The Dramatic Decade: The Indira Gandhi Years, and others.