The President of India is the head of state and first citizen of India. The President is also the Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces of India. There have been 13 Presidents of India since the introduction of the post in 1950. The post was established when India was declared as a republic with the adoption of the Indian constitution. The President is elected by an electoral college composed of elected members of the parliament houses, Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, and also members of the Vidhan Sabha, the state legislative assemblies.
List of 13 Presidents of India
Dr. Rajendra Prasad
Term of Office: January 26, 1950 to May 13, 1962
- Birth Date: Dec 3, 1884
- Death Date: Feb 28, 1963
- Birth Place: Jiradei
- Took President Office: Jan 26, 1950
- Left President Office: May 13, 1962
Dr Rajendra Prasad was one of the architects of the Indian Republic and had played a crucial role in drafting the first Constitution of the country. He served twice as the President of India (January 26, 1950 - May 13, 1962). He is the only President of India who was elected twice to the post. In 1962, he retired and returned to Patna where he stayed on the campus of Bihar Vidyapeeth. He was subsequently awarded the Bharat Ratna, the nation’s highest civilian award, in 1962.
Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan
Term of Office: May 13, 1962 to May 13, 1967
- Birth Date: Sep 5, 1888
- Death Date: Apr 17, 1975
- Birth Place: Thiruttani
- Took President Office: May 13, 1962
- Left President Office: May 13, 1967
Dr. Sir Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan was the first Vice President of India (1952-1962). He became the second President of India after Dr. Rajendra Prasad retired in 1962. One of India’s most influential scholars of comparative religion and philosophy, Dr Radhakrishnan is thought of as having built a bridge between the East and the West by showing that the philosophical systems of each tradition are comprehensible within the terms of the other. Among the many honours he received were a knighthood (1931), the Bharat Ratna (1954) and the Order of Merit in 1963. His birthday is celebrated in India as Teachers’ Day on September 5, every year.
Dr. Zakir Hussain
Term of Office: May 13, 1967 to May 3, 1969
- Birth Date: Feb 8, 1897
- Death Date: May 3, 1969
- Birth Place: Hyderabad
- Took President Office: May 13, 1967
- Left President Office: May 3, 1969
Dr. Zakir Hussain was the third President of India from May 13, 1967, until his death on May 3, 1969. He was the first Muslim President of India. He was awarded the Bharat Ratna in 1963.
Dr. V.V. Giri
Term of Office: May 3, 1969 to July 20, 1969, and August 24, 1969 to August 24, 1974
- Birth Date: Aug 10, 1894
- Death Date: June 23, 1980
- Birth Place: Berhampur
- Took President Office: Aug 24, 1969
- Left President Office: Aug 24, 1974
A prolific writer and a good orator, Dr. VV Giri was elected as the third Vice President of India in 1967. However, he became acting President of India in 1969 upon the death of then President Dr. Zakir Hussain. He later contested for the post in the ensuing election and won. He served as President of India till 1974 and was awarded the Bharat Ratna in 1975.
Dr. Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed
Term of Office: August 24, 1974 to February 11, 1977
- Birth Date: May 13, 1905
- Death Date: Feb 11, 1977
- Birth Place: Delhi
- Took President Office: Aug 24, 1974
- Left President Office: Feb 11, 1977
Picked for presidency by Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in 1974, Dr. Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed became the second Muslim to be elected as President. He took office on August 20, 1974. He okayed the promulgation of the Emergency in 1975. He is well known among Indian diplomats for his visit to Sudan in 1975 where the whole town showed up to see him. He died on February 11, 1977, becoming the second Indian President to die in office.
Neelam Sanjiva Reddy
Term of Office: July 25, 1977 to July 25, 1982
- Birth Date: May 19, 1913
- Death Date: Jun 1, 1996
- Birth Place: Illur
- Took President Office: Jul 25, 1977
- Left President Office: Jul 25, 1982
Neelam Sanjeeva Reddy was the 6th and the youngest President of India, serving from 1977 to 1982 and was the only person to be elected President of India unopposed. Regarded as one of the best speakers ever in the Lok Sabha, he had said that he would not remain a ’rubber stamp President’ and proved himself to be most dynamic President of India.
Giani Zail Singh
Term of Office: July 25, 1982 to July 25, 1987
- Birth Date: May 5, 1916
- Death Date: Dec 25, 1994
- Birth Place: Sandhwan
- Took President Office: July 25, 1982
- Left President Office: Jul 25, 1987
The 7th President of India serving from 1982 to 1987, Giani Zail Singh’s term was marked by Operation Bluestar, the assassination of Indira Gandhi, and the 1984 anti-Sikh riots. After Operation Bluestar, fearing that it would aggravate the situation, he decided against resigning from the post of President. He was called before the Akal Takht to apologise and explain his inaction following the desecration of the Harmandir Sahib and the killing of innocent Sikhs.
Term of Office: July 25, 1987 to July 25, 1992
- Birth Date: Dec 4, 1910
- Death Date: Jan 27, 2009
- Birth Place: Thanjavur
- Took President Office: Jul 25, 1987
- Left President Office: Jul 25, 1992
A lawyer by qualification and an Independence activist and politician, Ramaswamy Venkataraman became the 8th President of India in 1987 after Giani Zail Singh. He is the only President of India who has worked with four prime ministers and appointing three of them: V P Singh, Chandra Shekhar and P V Narasimha Rao, during his five-year term, which saw the advent of coalition politics in India.
Dr. Shankar Dayal Sharma
Term of Office: July 25, 1992 to July 25, 1997
- Birth Date: Aug 19, 1918
- Death Date: Dec 26, 1999
- Birth Place: Madhya Pradesh
- Took President Office: Jul 25, 1992
- Left President Office: Jul 25, 1997
He was the 9th President of India serving from 1992 to 1997. Prior to his presidency, Dr. Sharma was the eighth Vice President of India, serving under President R Venkataraman.
Term of Office: July 25, 1997 to July 25, 2002
- Birth Date: Oct 27, 1920
- Death Date: Nov 9, 2005
- Birth Place: Perumthanam
- Took President Office: Jul 25, 1997
- Left President Office: Jul 24, 2002
Kocheril Raman Narayanan was the 10th President of India and the first Dalit in the high office. Narayanan was regarded as an independent and assertive President who set several precedents and enlarged the scope of the highest Constitutional office. He used his discretionary powers as President and deviated from convention and precedent in many situations, including but not limited to the appointment of the PM in a hung Parliament, in dismissing a state government and imposing President’s rule there at the suggestion of the Union Cabinet, and during the Kargil conflict.
Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam
Term of Office: July 25, 2002 to July 25, 2007
- Birth Date: Oct 15, 1931
- Birth Place: Rameshwaram
- Took President Office: July 25, 2002
- Left President Office: Jul 24, 2007
A renowned aerospace engineer, A. P. J. Abdul Kalam was elected as the 11th President of India in 2002. During his term as President, he was popularly known as the People’s President. He was awarded the Bharat Ratna in 1997. He has also been a professor (of aerospace engineering) and is the first Chancellor of the Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology, Thiruvananthapuram (IIST).
Pratibha Devi Singh Patil
Term of office (2007 - 2012)
- Birth Date: Dec 19, 1934
- Birth Place: Nadgaon
- Took President Office: Jul 25, 2007
- Left President Office: Jul 24, 2012
Pratibha Devi Singh Patil was the 12th President of India and holds the distinction of being the first woman to hold the office. Governor of Rajasthan before being shifted to Rashtrapati Bhavan, Patil has courted many controversies in her tenure, latest being about her lavish post-retirement home, plans of which now stand shelved.
Sh. Pranab Mukherjee
Term of office (2012 - Till Date)
- Birth Date: December 11, 1935
- Birth Place: Mirati (Birbhum)
- Took President Office: Jul 25, 2012
Pranab Mukherjee has been elected as the 13th President of India on 24 July 2012.