First Lady of India
Incumbent
Savita Kovind

since 25 July 2017
Residence
Inaugural holderRajvanshi Devi
Formation26 January 1950; 71 years ago (1950-01-26)
DeputySpouse of the Vice President of India

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

The position of First Lady of India is currently held by Savita Kovind, wife of President Ram Nath Kovind. She assumed the position after her husband took the oath of office to the post of president on 25 July 2017.[1]

The role should not be confused with the spouse of the prime minister of India.

History

Rajvanshi Devi, wife of India's first president, was the country's first 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] 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 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 were 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".[2]

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.[3]

The current first lady Savita Kovind has assumed the position since 2017.

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.[2]

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.[2]

Zail Singh's daughter had served as hostess for some events.[4][2] Pranab Mukherjee's daughter Sharmistha Mukherjee served as hostess for some events, during her mother's illness.[5]

List of first ladies and gentlemen of India

President
No.
Portrait Name Tenure Reason of tenure end or vacancy President
1
Rajvanshi Devi
[6]
26 January 1950

12 May 1962
President's end of tenure Rajendra Prasad
m. 1896
2 Vacant[a] President was a widower Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan
3
Shah Jahan Begum
[8]
13 May 1967

3 May 1969
President died in office Zakir Husain
m. 1915
4
Saraswati Bai 3 May 1969

20 July 1969
Husband was Acting President V. V. Giri
m. 1917
5
Pushpa Shah[b] 20 July 1969

24 August 1969
Husband was Acting President Mohammad Hidayatullah
m. 1948
(4)
Saraswati Bai 24 August 1969

24 August 1974
President's end of tenure V. V. Giri
m. 1917
6
Begum Abida Ahmed 24 August 1974

11 February 1977
President died in office Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed
m. 1945
7
Sangamma Jatti 11 February 1977

25 July 1977
Husband was Acting President B. D. Jatti
m. 1922
8
Neelam Nagaratnamma Reddy
[9]
25 July 1977

25 July 1982
President's end of tenure Neelam Sanjiva Reddy
m. 1935
9
Pardhan Kaur[c]
[12][13]
25 July 1982

25 July 1987
President's end of tenure Zail Singh
m. 1934
10
Janaki Venkataraman 25 July 1987

25 July 1992
President's end of tenure Ramaswamy Venkataraman
m. 1938
11
Vimala Sharma
[14]
25 July 1992

25 July 1997
President's end of tenure Shankar Dayal Sharma
m. 1950
12
Usha Narayanan[d] 25 July 1997

25 July 2002
President's end of tenure K. R. Narayanan
m. 1951
13 Vacant[e] President was a bachelor A. P. J. Abdul Kalam
14
Devisingh Ransingh Shekhawat[f]
[16]
25 July 2007

25 July 2012
President's end of tenure Pratibha Patil
m. 1965
15
Suvra Mukherjee[g][h] 25 July 2012

18 August 2015
First Lady died in office Pranab Mukherjee
m. 1957
16
Savita Kovind 25 July 2017

present
Incumbent Ram Nath Kovind
m. 1974

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.[7]
  2. ^ Second Lady of India from 1979–1984
  3. ^ Zail Singh's daughter had served as hostess for some events.[10][11]
  4. ^ India's first foreign born (Burma) First Lady and the first one of foreign origin[15]
  5. ^ The role of hostess, during official functions at the Rashtrapati Bhavan, was vacant during the tenure of A. P. J. Abdul Kalam.[11]
  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. ^ a b c d "The first ladies of Rashtrapati Bhavan". Live Mint. HT Media Ltd. Retrieved 19 August 2015.
  3. ^ Nandan Jha, Durgesh (23 August 2015). "Suvra Mukherjee, President Pranab Mukherjee's wife, passes away". Times of India. Retrieved 23 August 2015.
  4. ^ Ramachandran, Smriti Kak (27 July 2014). "President's daughter turns politician". The Hindu. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 12 March 2020.
  5. ^ Sandhu, Veenu (5 April 2013). "Sharmistha Mukherjee chose not to live in India's biggest house". Business Standard India. Retrieved 12 March 2020.
  6. ^ "Dr. Rajendra Prasad –> 1st President of India". Rediff.com. Archived from the original on 4 July 2010. Retrieved 19 August 2015.
  7. ^ Gandhi, Gopalkrishna (26 January 2013). "Only half our story". Hindustan Times. Retrieved 23 August 2015.[dead link]
  8. ^ "ZAKIR HUSAIN, DR". Vice President of India. Retrieved 19 August 2015.
  9. ^ "Neelam Sanjeeva Reddy's wife passes away". The Hindu. 12 January 2010. Retrieved 23 August 2015.
  10. ^ Ramachandran, Smriti Kak (27 July 2014). "President's daughter turns politician". The Hindu. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 12 March 2020.
  11. ^ a b "The first ladies of Rashtrapati Bhavan". Live Mint. HT Media Ltd. Retrieved 19 August 2015.
  12. ^ "Giani Zail Singh's widow dead". The Tribune. India. 12 May 2002. Retrieved 24 September 2019.
  13. ^ Hazarika, Sanjoy (26 December 1994). "Zail Singh, 78, First Sikh To Hold India's Presidency". New York Times. Retrieved 23 August 2015.
  14. ^ "President Pranab Mukherjee pays tributes to Shanker Dayal Sharma". Zee News. Retrieved 19 August 2015.
  15. ^ "Ex-First Lady Usha Narayanan dies at 86". The Indian Express. The Indian Express Ltd.
  16. ^ "The constant gardener". Hindustan Times. 16 August 2007. Retrieved 12 March 2020.