‘My passion has been the service of the people’

PRANAB MUKHERJEE 1935 - 2020

BHARAT Ratna PranabMukherjee, former President of India who passed away on 31 August 2020, aged 84 years, had a long and deep association with EEPC India over the many years he served in the Cabinet of successive governments in various capacities, including holding the key portfolios of Commerce, Finance, External Affairs, and Defence.

The former President was cremated with full State honours while the Centre declared seven-day National mourning. President Ram Nath Kovind, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and Congress leader Rahul Gandhi were among the many dignitaries who paid tributes to the departed leader. Bangladesh also observed one-day National mourning, which underscores Mr Mukherjee’s deep engagement with that nation.

An illustrous political career spanning more than half a century also saw Mr Mukherjee serving on the boards of the World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF), the Planning Commission, and several other government organisations, culminating in his rise to become the First Citizen in 2012.

A Congress stalwart, Mr Mukherjee’s meteoric rise in politics began in 1969 when then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi offered him a Congress ticket to the Rajya Sabha. He spent the next 37 years as a Parliamentarian earning his reputation as a ‘consensus-builder,’ ‘best Finance Minister of the World,’ and among the ‘best parliamentarians and statesmen of India.’

It was during his tenures in key ministries that the Ministry of Finance was split into two independent entities – Revenue and Finance; the Fringe Benefits Tax and Commodities Transaction Tax were scrapped; India became a Full Dialogue Partner of ASEAN as part of the Look East policy; the US-India Civil Nuclear Agreement was signed with the US government followed by an agreement with the Nuclear Suppliers Group that allowed India to participate in civilian nuclear trade despite not being a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty; and several other remarkable feats.

But his most noteworthy attribute was an encyclopaedic memory that earned him the sobriquet ‘human computer.’ He was a meticulous diary-writer and published two books based on his memories and the contents of his diaries.

Mr Mukherjee was honoured with the Bharat Ratna in 2019. ‘My temple has been the Parliament of India and my passion has been the service of the people of India,’ he said in his farewell speech when he left the office of the President in 2017.

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President Pranab Mukherjee was the Chief Guest at EEPC India’s Diamond Jubilee function in New Delhi on 15 September 2015. Also present were Ms Nirmala Sitharaman, Union Minister of Commerce and Industry, Mr Ravi Shankar Prasad, Union Minister for Electronics and Information Technology and Law and Justice, and Mr Anupam Shah, then Chairman, EEPC India

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A young Pranab Mukherjee with Dr RK Singh, EEPC India’s first Executive Director, on his right, and Mr GD Shah, Former Chairman, EEPC India, on his left

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Mr Pranab Mukherjee as Union Minister of Commerce and Industry was the Chief Guest at the 27th EEPC India National Awards function held on 18 December 1993

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Mr Pranab Mukherjee as Union Minister of External Affairs was the Chief Guest at the 39th EEPC India National Awards function held on 9 August 2008, where EEPC India’s new logo was launched. Also present were Mr Rajeev Kher, then Joint Secretary (EP Engg), Dept of Commerce, Govt of India; and EEPC India dignitaries

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Mr Pranab Mukherjee, then Union Minister of Commerce and Industry, being welcomed as the Chief Guest at the 26th EEPC India National Awards function held on 23 March 1993, by Mr JS Bhasin, then Chairman, EEPC India

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