Birthday: October 27, 1920
Died At Age: 85
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Also Known As: Kocheril Raman Narayanan
Born in: Uzhavoor
Famous as: President of India
political ideology: Political party - Indian National Congress
Spouse/Ex-: Ma Tint Tint
children: Amrita Narayanan, Chitra Narayanan
Died on: November 9, 2005
place of death: New Delhi
Notable Alumni: University Of Kerala
education: 1943 - University of Kerala,, London School of Economics and Political Science, CMS College Kottayam
Who was K. R. Narayanan?
K. R. Narayanan (Kocheril Raman Narayanan) was the tenth President of India. He broke the glass ceiling when he became the first Dalit to assume the office of the President. Narayanan was born and brought up in a very poor family. He had to walk for miles to reach his school only to stand outside the class to attend the lecture as his fees was always due. Even with such hardships, Narayanan finished his post graduate studies from the University of Kerala with first position. Soon after, he shifted to Delhi and took up a job as a journalist and when he aspired to go to the UK to pursue studies in Economics, he was helped by the wealthy and famous industrialist of India, JRD Tata. He finished his studies from London School of Economics and as soon as he was back, he was appointed as the Indian Foreign Service officer. During the course of his service he distinguished himself as one of the best diplomats of the country. He joined politics on the request of Indira Gandhi and served as a minister in Rajiv Gandhi’s cabinet. Later on, he went on to serve as the Vice President and the President of India.
Childhood & Early Life
K.R. Narayanan was born on October 27, 1920 in Travancore, Kerala to Kocheril Raman Vaidyar and Punnaththuraveettil Paappiyamma. He was born into a very poor Dalit family and was the fourth among the seven siblings. His family suffered the backlash of the prevalent caste system of those times.
He received his early education from Government Lower Primary School, Kurichithanam and later got enrolled at Our Lady of Lourdes Primary School at Uzhavoor, in 1931.
He did his B.A. and M.A.’ in English Literature from the University of Travancore (presently known as the University of Kerala), in 1943. He topped the university and became the first Dalit to pass his degree with first class in Travancore.
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After finishing his studies, he went to Delhi to pursue a career as a journalist. He worked for the famous newspapers like, The Hindu and The Times of India from 1944-45. He even managed to get Mahatma Gandhi’s interview during this time.
Narayanan wanted to go to England to pursue higher studies but he had a major financial constraint for which he approached J.R.D. Tata. J.R.D. gave him a scholarship, as a result of which Narayanan went to England in 1945 and studied Economics and Political Science at the London School of Economics (LSE).
He completed his B. Sc. (Economics) honors degree with specialization in Political Science in 1948 and returned to India. Harold Laski, the renowned political theorist and economist was Narayanan’s professor at LSE. Laski gave Narayanan a letter of introduction to Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru.
After his return to India, Narayanan met Nehru and was offered a job in the Indian Foreign Service (IFS). Narayanan joined IFS in 1949.
During his service in IFS, Narayanan worked as a diplomat in Rangoon, Tokyo, London, Canberra, and Hanoi. He also served as India's ambassador to Thailand, Turkey, and the People's Republic of China. He retired from IFS in 1978.
After his retirement, he had a brief stint as the Vice Chancellor of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU).
In 1980, Indira Gandhi appointed K.R. Narayanan as India’s ambassador to the United States. Narayanan was instrumental in facilitating Indira Gandhi’s landmark visit to the United States in 1982 during President Ronald Reagan’s presidency. The visit played an important role in improving the strained relations between the two countries.
In 1984, on Indira Gandhi’s request Narayanan entered into electoral politics and was elected thrice to the parliament—in 1984, 1989, and 1991—from the Ottapalam constituency in Kerala. He also served as the Minister of State in Rajiv Gandhi’s Cabinet. He held the portfolios of Planning, External Affairs, and Science and Technology at different times between 1985 and 1989.
In 1992, former Prime Minister V. P. Singh proposed Narayanan’s name for the office of the Vice President and on 21 August 1992, Narayanan was unanimously elected as the Vice President of India. He served as the ninth Vice President of India from 1992 to 1997.
After the completion of his tenure as the Vice President, he was elected as the President of India and assumed the office on 25 July 1997. He was the first Dalit to occupy the highest office of India. He served for five years and retired as President in 2002.
As a diplomat, he served as India's ambassador to China and the United States. In both the tenures, he played a key role in improving India's relations with China and the United States, respectively.
As a President, he brought a new dignity to the office. He was not a "rubber stamp" president and judiciously exercised the discretionary powers vested in the office of the President. He explained to the nation about his decisions, and brought openness and transparency in the functioning of the President.
Personal Life & Legacy
While Narayanan was posted in Burma during his IFS days, he met an activist named Ma Tint Tint and they got married on 8 June 1951. She became an Indian citizen and adopted the name Usha. The couple had two daughters together.
K.R. Narayanan died on 9 November 2005, at the age of 85, due to pneumonia and renal failure.
His wife was the only woman of foreign origin who became the First Lady of India.