Do you know who was the first president of India? Do you have any idea that how many presidents have been elected as the head of India since 1947? As of today, there are 14 Presidents who were elected as leaders. Let us know about them in detail.

Rajendra Prasad 1950 to 1962

Rajendra Prasad was the first President of India. He was an Indian political leader and lawyer by training. Prasad joined the Indian National Congress during the Indian Independence Movement and became a major leader from the region of Bihar. A supporter of Mahatma Gandhi, Prasad was imprisoned by British authorities during the Salt Satyagraha of 1931 and the Quit India movement of 1942.  After the 1946 elections, Prasad served as Minister of Food and Agriculture in the central government. When India became a republic in 1950, Prasad was elected its first president by the Constituent Assembly. In 1957, Prasad was re-elected to the presidency, becoming the only president to serve two full terms.

Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan 1962 to 1967

Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan served as professor of philosophy at Mysore and Calcutta universities and as vice-chancellor of Andhra University. He was a professor of Eastern religions and ethics at the University of Oxford in England and vice-chancellor of Benares Hindu University in India. From 1953 to 1962 he was chancellor of the University of Delhi. Radhakrishnan led the Indian delegation to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and was elected chairman of UNESCO’s executive board. From 1949 to 1952 he served as Indian ambassador to the Soviet Union. 

Zakir Hussain 1967 to 1969

Zakir Husain was the first Muslim to hold the largely ceremonial position of president of India. Husain responded to the nationalist leader Mahatma Gandhi’s appeal to Indian youth to shun state-supported institutions; he helped found the Muslim National University in Aligarh and served as its vice-chancellor from 1926 to 1948. At Gandhi’s invitation, he also became chairman of the National Committee on Basic Education, established in 1937 to design a Gandhian syllabus for schools.

V.V Giri 1969 to 1974

Varahagiri Venkata Giri was the only person to be elected as an independent candidate. When the Congress Party formed a government in Madras state in 1937, Giri became minister of labour and industries. With the resignation of the Congress governments and the launching of the anti-British “quit India” movement in 1942, he returned to the labour movement and was subsequently imprisoned with his colleagues. After India became independent, he was appointed as high commissioner in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) and in 1952 was elected to the Lok Sabha. On the death of President Zakir Husain in 1969, Giri became acting president and announced his intention to stand for the presidency. After the end of his full term as president, Giri was honoured by the Government of India with the Bharat Ratna in 1975.

Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed 1974 to 1977

Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed, the son of an army doctor from Assam, Ahmed was educated in India and studied history at the University of Cambridge, graduating in 1927. After returning to India, he was elected to the Assam legislature in 1935. As Assam’s minister of finance and revenue in 1938, he was responsible for some radical taxation measures. He held a variety of portfolios—irrigation and power, education, industrial development, and agriculture. Ahmed became India’s fifth president in 1974. 

Neelam Sanjiva Reddy 1977 to 1982

Beginning a long political career with the Indian National Congress Party in the Indian independence movement, he went on to hold several key offices in independent India—as the first Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, a two-time Speaker of the Lok Sabha and a Union Minister—before becoming the youngest-ever Indian president.

Giani Zail Singh 1982 to 1987

Prior to his presidency, he was a politician with the Indian National Congress Party and had held several ministerial posts in the Union Cabinet, including that of Home Minister. He also served as the Secretary-General of the Non-Aligned Movement from 1983 to 1986. His presidency was marked by Operation Blue Star, the assassination of Indira Gandhi, and the 1984 anti-Sikh riots.

R Venkataraman 1987 to 1992

R Venkataraman was an Indian lawyer and an Indian independence activist. Venkataraman was born in Rajamadam village in Tanjore district, Madras Presidency. He studied law and practised in the Madras High Court and the Supreme Court of India. He was appointed as the member of the Constituent Assembly and the provisional cabinet. He was elected to the Lok Sabha four times and served as Union Finance Minister and Defence Minister. In 1984, he was elected as the seventh Vice President of India and in 1987, he became the 8th President of India and served from 1987 to 1992.

Shankar Dayal Sharma 1992 to 1997

Shankar Dayal Sharma pursued his higher education at Agra and Lucknow universities. After earning a doctorate in law at the University of Cambridge, he attended Lincoln’s Inn in London and Harvard University. In 1940 he began his legal practice in Lucknow and soon after joined the Indian National Congress. Sharma’s involvement in the national movement for independence led to his arrest, and he was imprisoned for eight months. Sharma was appointed the governor of Andhra Pradesh, Punjab, and Maharashtra before becoming the vice president of India in 1987 and president in 1992.

K R Narayanan 1997 to 2002

Kocheril Raman Narayanan was the first member of the country’s lowest social caste, the group traditionally considered to be untouchable, to occupy the office. Despite his family’s poverty and social status, Narayanan’s intellect won him a government-sponsored scholarship. After graduating from the University of Travancore, he worked as a journalist for the Hindu and the Times of India. He soon won another scholarship and left India to attend the London School of Economics, where he received top academic honours. Despite opposition from upper-caste officials, he entered the foreign service after returning to India. Narayanan was the author or co-author of several works on Indian politics and international relations, notably India and America: Essays in Understanding and Non-Alignment in Contemporary International Relations.

APJ Abdul Kalam 2002 to 2007

Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam Indian scientist and politician who played a leading role in the development of India’s missile and nuclear weapons programs. Kalam earned a degree in aeronautical engineering from the Madras Institute of Technology and in 1958 joined the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). He soon moved to the Indian Space Research Organisation, where he was project director of the SLV-III, India’s first indigenously designed and produced satellite launch vehicle. Rejoining DRDO in 1982, Kalam planned the program that produced a number of successful missiles, which helped earned him the nickname “Missile Man.” In 1998 Kalam put forward a countrywide plan called Technology Vision 2020, which he described as a road map for transforming India from a less-developed to a developed society in 20 years. The plan was aimed at increasing agricultural productivity, emphasizing technology as a vehicle for economic growth, and widening access to health care and education. Kalam wrote several books, including an autobiography, Wings of Fire. Among his numerous awards were two of the country’s highest honours, the Padma Vibhushan and the Bharat Ratna.

Pratibha Patil 2007 to 2012

Pratibha Patil was an Indian lawyer and politician who was the first woman to serve as president of India. Patil earned a master’s degree in political science and economics at Moolji Jaitha College, Jalgaon, and later received a law degree from Government Law College, Mumbai. She joined the Indian National Congress and entered politics in 1962 as a member of the Maharashtra legislative assembly. In 1985 she won a seat in the Rajya Sabha, and she served as deputy chairman of that body from 1986 to 1988. She took office on July 2007 and was succeeded for five years.

Pranab Mukherjee 2012 to 2017

Pranab Mukherjee first ran for public office in 1969, when he won a seat in the Rajya as a member of the Bangla Congress, which soon merged with the Congress Party. He served an additional four terms, although he left that chamber in 2004 and contested and won a seat in the Lok Sabha. He served there until mid-2012, when he ran for president of India. He occupied several important legislative posts, including leader of the Rajya Sabha, Congress Party whip in the upper house, and leader of the Lok Sabha. Mukherjee was also involved with a number of prominent international organizations, most notably occupying seats on the boards of governors of the African Development Bank, the Asian Development Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the World Bank.

Ram Nath Kovind 2017 to Present

Ram Nath Kovind was an Indian lawyer and a politician. He was the second person from the Dalit caste, after Kocheril Raman Narayanan, and the first member of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to hold the office. Kovind worked in the Delhi Free Legal Aid Society, and he also served (1971–75, 1981) as general secretary of the Akhil Bharatiya Koli Samaj, an organization serving the interests of the Koli community, a Dalit subcaste. In 1991 Kovind joined the BJP, and three years later he was elected to the Rajya Sabha where he served on various committees, including those on law and justice, social justice and empowerment, and welfare of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. Ram Nath Kovind was sworn in as India’s 14th president in July 2017.


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