New Delhi: A scholar par excellence, visionary and a ‘trusted man’, the 13th President of India Dr Pranab Mukherjee was nation’s one of the most respected politicians and among the few who gained bipartisan respect. A quintessential Congress loyalist, Mukherjee was loved by all, starting from the grassroots to the top brass. Also Read - 'One of Bharat’s Brightest Ratnas': Amul Pays Tribute to Former President Pranab Mukherjee With a Heartfelt Doodle
He gave us innumerable inspirations throughout his political journey, the most important lesson of all – to always be grounded. Also Read - Will Convert One Floor of Our Home Into Museum-cum-library in Pranab Mukherjee's Memory: Abhijit
Son of a freedom fighter and raised in Bengal, Dr Mukherjee worked as a college teacher and a journalist for a Bengali newspaper before joining politics. He was introduced to politics in 1969 by then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, who guided him through his political journey as a mentor. Also Read - Pranab Mukherjee Believed Deeply in Tackling Global Challenges Together: Joe Biden
Versatile as he was, Mukherjee is the only minister to have handled four major ministries – defence, commerce, foreign and finance.
As the nation mourns the loss of a fighter, here are a few of his most inspiring words:
- “I have seen vast, perhaps unbelievable, changes during the journey that has brought me from the flicker of a lamp in a small Bengal village to the chandeliers of Delhi.”
- “Hatred and intolerance will only lead to dilution of our national identity.”
- “We are all equal children before our mother; and India asks each one of us, in whatsoever role we play in the complex drama of nation-building, to do our duty with integrity, commitment and unflinching loyalty to the values enshrined in our Constitution.”
- “There is no humiliation more abusive than hunger.”
- “Soul of India resides in pluralism and tolerance. This plurality came with assimilation of ideas over centuries. Secularism is a matter of faith for us.”
- “Every time a child or woman is brutalized, the soul of India is wounded.”
- “Democracy thrives on listening, deliberating, discussing, arguing and even dissent.”
- “Trickle-down theories do not address the legitimate aspirations of the poor. We must lift those at the bottom so that poverty is erased from the dictionary of modern India.”
- “The fact remains that secularism is inherent in the Indian system, in the Indian ethos and culture. India cannot but be secular.”
- “As Indians, we must of course learn from the past; but we must remain focused on the future. In my view, education is the true alchemy that can bring India its next golden age.”
The former president passed away on Monday at the age of 84. He had tested positive for the coronavirus infection and was admitted to Army’s Research and Referral Hospital in Delhi on August 10. He was operated for removal of a clot in his brain but developed a lung infection later which led him to a coma.
In recognition to his contribution towards Indian politics, Mukherjee was awarded India’s highest civilian honour, the Bharat Ratna in 2019 by President Ram Nath Kovind. He was first awarded India’s second-highest civilian award, Padma Vibhushan in 2008.