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The first woman President of India proved to be neither a role model nor resourceful as the formal head of the country. Wikimedia Commons

BY SHANTAM SAHAI

Pratibha Devisingh Patil, the 12th President of India, is a lawyer and a politician. She was the first woman President of India. From the year 2004 to 2007, she had served as the Governor of Rajasthan. As President, she is infamous for the foreign trips that always had at least 2-11 family members accompanying her.


RTI details accessed by activist S C Agrawal expose an expense of $40 million from the taxpayer’s money in her 22 trips. Even though the government had said family members accompanying the President was a “normal diplomatic practice”, we cannot ignore the fact that Presidents are supposed to meet foreign dignitaries and improve diplomatic relationships & cultural exchange- none of which was done by Ms. Patil.

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Also, her self-appraisal of 300% salary hike and alleged misuse of government’s money on a mansion in Pune (which is probably a retirement home for post-Presidency period) go quite unprecedented. More importantly, the 260,000 sq.ft plot belonged to war widows. In comparison to her predecessor, APJ Abdul Kalam, she is known to have done a precise ‘nothing’. While Dr. Kalam was known to take bold political moves to keep the government on track, Ms. Patil’s actions have a history of triggering anger among Indian citizens.

Pratibha Patil’s history has a long list of alleged involvements in various scams like the chit fund scam, tsunami relief scam, and felicitation scam. Therefore, the whole idea of ‘Pratibha Patil as President’ is treated as a speculation of Congress high-command (in other words, the Gandhi family) that tendered no objection to anything done by the UPA government. The very reason being, she never commanded the reputation her predecessors did.

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Though, many have not made peace with her successor as well.

Here are some facts you should know about the first woman president of India:

  1. Patil has a Master’s degree in Political Science and Economics. After completing post-graduation, she began to practice law. At that time, she had also developed an interest in social issues such as improving the conditions faced by Indian women.
  2. She was elected to the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly (from Jalgaon constituency) at the age of 27. After which, she won in the Muktainagar constituency for four consecutive times.
  3. Between 1985 and 1990, she became a Member of Parliament in the Rajya Sabha.
  4. In November 2004, she was appointed as the 24th Governor of Rajasthan, and with this title, she also became the first woman to hold that office.
  5. Ms. Patil won nearly two-thirds votes in the Presidential election and took office as India’s first woman president on July 25, 2007.
  6. Pratibha Patil is known as the most merciful President in 30 years. Though, most the convicts she pardoned were charged with barbaric crimes like mass murder and child rape.
  7. According to the records, Patil was noted for having spent more money on foreign trips and having taken a greater number of foreign trips, than any prior president.
  8. She had set up Vidya Bharati Shikshan Prasarak Mandal, along with her husband.
  9. She has also set up Shram Sadhana Trust, which runs hostels for working women in New Delhi, Mumbai and Pune.
  10. She also founded a sugar factory known as Sant Muktabai Sahakari Sakhar Karkhana.

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