First Gentlemen/Ladies of India
Emblem of India.svg
Flag of India.svg
Incumbent
Vacant

since 25 July 2022
Residence
Inaugural holderRajvanshi Devi
Formation26 January 1950; 72 years ago (1950-01-26)
DeputySpouse of the Vice President of India

The First Lady of India or First Gentleman of India is the title given to the host of the Rashtrapati Bhavan, usually the spouse of the President of India. There are no official roles or duties assigned to the spouse. The spouse generally attends official ceremonies and functions.[1]

The position of First Gentleman of India is currently vacant, as President Draupadi Murmu is widowed.[1]

History

Rajvanshi Devi, the wife of India's first president, was the country's first lady from 1950 until 1962.[1] Devi kept a very low profile during this era and did not attend public events with President Rajendra Prasad.[1]

Saraswati Bai, wife of the country's fourth president, V. V. Giri, was the first first lady to take a more public role.[1] Bai's role marked a change from the lower profile of her predecessors.[1] She attended and hosted public events and became a recognizable figure to the Indian public.[1]

Begum Abida Ahmed, India's first lady from 1974 to 1977, further expanded the public role of the first lady's position by organizing ceremonies and official functions at the Rashtrapati Bhavan.[1][2] She was also the first among the first spouses to hold a public office when she was Member of Parliament between 1980 and 1989.

Usha Narayanan was the first spouse of foreign origin.

Before Pratibha Patil was sworn in as the first female president of India, the role of the wives of the president was to act as the chief hostess of the Bhavan. In 2007, the office room meant for the first lady went for some minor changes to accommodate the husband of Pratibha Patil, Devisingh Ransingh Shekhawat, the country's inaugural "first gentleman".[3]

Former first lady Suvra Mukherjee, the wife of President Pranab Mukherjee, died in office on 18 August 2015. The position of First Lady remained vacant for the remainder of President Mukherjee's term.[4]

The position is currently vacant since 2022 as president Droupadi Murmu is a widow.

Role

The role of a first spouse is largely ceremonial. The first spouse has no official duties, but he or she generally attends the official ceremonies and functions held at the Rashtrapati Bhavan along with the president. Most of the first spouses have maintained a low profile.[3]

Non-spouses in the role

In case of the absence of a spouse, another relative of the President may take up the role of host or hostess during official functions at the Rashtrapati Bhavan. However, this is not mandatory, and the role of hostess has been vacant during the tenure of A. P. J. Abdul Kalam.[3]

Zail Singh's daughter had served as hostess for some events.[5][3] Pranab Mukherjee's daughter Sharmistha Mukherjee served as hostess for some events, during her mother's illness.[6]

List of first ladies and gentlemen of India

President
No.
Portrait Name

Birth - Death

Tenure What Happened in the End of Serving as First Lady President
1
Rajvanshi Devi at a Rashtrapati Bhavan ceremony (cropped).jpg
Rajvanshi Devi
[7]1867-1962
26 January 1950

12 May 1962
Died. Rajendra Prasad
m. 1896
2 Vacant[a] Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan
3
No image (female).svg
Shah Jahan Begum
[9]1891-1969
13 May 1967

3 May 1969
Died. Zakir Husain
m. 1915
Acting
No image (female).svg
Saraswati Bai1912-2019 3 May 1969

20 July 1969
Became Prime Minister. V. V. Giri
m. 1917
Acting
No image (female).svg
Pushpa Shah[b]Born 1930 20 July 1969

24 August 1969
Divorced. Mohammad Hidayatullah
m. 1948
4
No image (female).svg
Saraswati Bai1912-2019 24 August 1969

24 August 1974
Died. V. V. Giri
m. 1917
5
Abida Ahmed First Lady of India.gif
Begum Abida AhmedBorn 1926 24 August 1974

11 February 1977
Became Vice Vice President Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed
m. 1945
Acting
No image (female).svg
Sangamma Jatti1901-2022 11 February 1977

25 July 1977
Divorced B. D. Jatti
m. 1922
6
No image (female).svg
Neelam Nagaratnamma Reddy
[10]1929-2012
25 July 1977

25 July 1982
Retired Neelam Sanjiva Reddy
m. 1935
7
No image (female).svg
Pardhan Kaur[c]
[13][14]1912-2017
25 July 1982

25 July 1987
Died after Years Zail Singh
m. 1934
8
Janaki Venkataraman (cropped).jpg
Janaki VenkataramanBorn 1907 25 July 1987

25 July 1992
Became the Current Vice Ramaswamy Venkataraman
m. 1938
9
No image (female).svg
Vimala Sharma
[15]1932-1997
25 July 1992

25 July 1997
Died Shankar Dayal Sharma
m. 1950
10
Usha Narayanan.jpg
Usha Narayanan[d] 25 July 1997

25 July 2002
Lived K. R. Narayanan
m. 1951
11 Vacant[e] A. P. J. Abdul Kalam
12
Devisingh Ramsingh Shekhawat, the First Gentleman of India.jpg
Devisingh Ransingh Shekhawat[f]
[17]
25 July 2007

25 July 2012
Lived Pratibha Patil
m. 1965
13
Suvra Mukherjee.jpg
Suvra Mukherjee[g][h] 25 July 2012

18 August 2015
Lived Pranab Mukherjee
m. 1957
14
Savita Kovind in 2018.jpg
Savita Kovind 25 July 2017

25 July 2022
Lived Ram Nath Kovind
m. 1974
15 Vacant 25 July 2022

- Present

Droupadi Murmu

See also

Notes

  1. ^ Sivakamu Radhakrishnan, wife of Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan died at her home in Madras in 1956, before her husband became President. She was the Second Lady of India at the time of her death.[8]
  2. ^ Second Lady of India from 1979–1984
  3. ^ Zail Singh's daughter had served as hostess for some events.[11][12]
  4. ^ India's first foreign born (Burma) First Lady and the first one of foreign origin[16]
  5. ^ The role of hostess, during official functions at the Rashtrapati Bhavan, was vacant during the tenure of A. P. J. Abdul Kalam.[12]
  6. ^ Shekhawat was India's first and only First Gentleman.
  7. ^ Suvra Mukherjee was the first First Lady to die during her husband's presidency.
  8. ^ While the position of First Lady was vacant following the death of First Lady Suvra Mukherjee, Mukherjee's daughter, Sharmistha Mukherjee, served as hostess for some events, during her mother's illness and following her death.

References

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Rathi, Nandini (26 July 2017). "Savita Kovind enters Rashtrapati Bhavan, but India's First Ladies are yet to make a mark". Indian Express. Retrieved 12 September 2017.
  2. ^ "India's First Lady Moves Into the Official Spotlight". The New York Times. 25 October 1974. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 27 September 2022.
  3. ^ a b c d "The first ladies of Rashtrapati Bhavan". Live Mint. HT Media Ltd. 25 July 2012. Retrieved 19 August 2015.
  4. ^ Nandan Jha, Durgesh (23 August 2015). "Suvra Mukherjee, President Pranab Mukherjee's wife, passes away". Times of India. Retrieved 23 August 2015.
  5. ^ Ramachandran, Smriti Kak (27 July 2014). "President's daughter turns politician". The Hindu. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 12 March 2020.
  6. ^ Sandhu, Veenu (5 April 2013). "Sharmistha Mukherjee chose not to live in India's biggest house". Business Standard India. Retrieved 12 March 2020.
  7. ^ "Dr. Rajendra Prasad –> 1st President of India". Rediff.com. Archived from the original on 4 July 2010. Retrieved 19 August 2015.
  8. ^ Gandhi, Gopalkrishna (26 January 2013). "Only half our story". Hindustan Times. Retrieved 23 August 2015.[dead link]
  9. ^ "ZAKIR HUSAIN, DR". Vice President of India. Archived from the original on 9 November 2015. Retrieved 19 August 2015.
  10. ^ "Neelam Sanjeeva Reddy's wife passes away". The Hindu. 12 January 2010. Retrieved 23 August 2015.
  11. ^ Ramachandran, Smriti Kak (27 July 2014). "President's daughter turns politician". The Hindu. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 12 March 2020.
  12. ^ a b "The first ladies of Rashtrapati Bhavan". Live Mint. HT Media Ltd. 25 July 2012. Retrieved 19 August 2015.
  13. ^ "Giani Zail Singh's widow dead". The Tribune. India. 12 May 2002. Retrieved 24 September 2019.
  14. ^ Hazarika, Sanjoy (26 December 1994). "Zail Singh, 78, First Sikh To Hold India's Presidency". New York Times. Retrieved 23 August 2015.
  15. ^ "President Pranab Mukherjee pays tributes to Shanker Dayal Sharma". Zee News. 19 August 2015. Retrieved 19 August 2015.
  16. ^ "Ex-First Lady Usha Narayanan dies at 86". The Indian Express. The Indian Express Ltd.
  17. ^ "The constant gardener". Hindustan Times. 16 August 2007. Retrieved 12 March 2020.