Ramaswamy Venkataraman
President Shri R Venkataraman (narendramodiofficial Flickr).jpg
Official Portrait
8th President of India
In office
25 July 1987 – 25 July 1992
Prime MinisterRajiv Gandhi
V. P. Singh
Chandra Shekhar
P. V. Narasimha Rao
Vice PresidentShankar Dayal Sharma
Preceded byZail Singh
Succeeded byShankar Dayal Sharma
7th Vice President of India
In office
31 August 1984 – 24 July 1987
PresidentZail Singh
Prime MinisterIndira Gandhi
Rajiv Gandhi
Preceded byMohammad Hidayatullah
Succeeded byShankar Dayal Sharma
Minister of Home Affairs
In office
22 June 1982 – 2 September 1982
Prime MinisterIndira Gandhi
Preceded byZail Singh
Succeeded byPrakash Chandra Sethi
Minister of Defence
In office
15 January 1982 – 2 August 1984
Prime MinisterIndira Gandhi
Preceded byIndira Gandhi
Succeeded byShankarrao Chavan
Minister of Finance
In office
14 January 1980 – 15 January 1982
Prime MinisterIndira Gandhi
Preceded byHemvati Nandan Bahuguna
Succeeded byPranab Mukherjee
Personal details
Born(1910-12-04)4 December 1910
Rajamadam, Madras, British India
(now Tamil Nadu, India)
Died27 January 2009(2009-01-27) (aged 98)
New Delhi, Delhi, India
Political partyIndian National Congress
SpouseJanaki Venkataraman
Alma materLoyola College, University of Madras

Ramaswamy Venkataraman (pronunciation , 4 December 1910 – 27 January 2009)[1][2] was an Indian lawyer, Indian independence activist and politician who served as a Union Minister and as the eighth president of India.[3] Venkataraman was born in Rajamadam village in Tanjore district, Madras Presidency. He studied law and practised in the Madras High Court and the Supreme Court of India. In his young age, he was an activist of the Indian independence movement and participated in the Quit India Movement. He was appointed as the member of the Constituent Assembly and the provisional cabinet. He was elected to the Lok Sabha four times and served as Union Finance Minister and Defence Minister. In 1984, he was elected as the seventh vice president of India and in 1987, he became the eighth President of India and served from 1987 to 1992. He also served as a State minister under K. Kamaraj and M. Bhaktavatsalam.[4]

Early life

Venkataraman was born during the British colonial rule in Rajamadam village near in Pattukottai, near Tanjore district in Tamil Nadu in an Iyer family. He had a close friend in Rajamadam village named as Rajamadam Kannan Iyengar. He had his school education in Govt Boys Higher Secondary School, Pattukottai & Undergraduation in National College, Tiruchirappalli.[5]

Educated locally and in the city of Madras (now Chennai), Venkataraman obtained his master's degree in economics from Loyola College, Madras. He later qualified in Law from the Law College, Madras. Venkataraman was enrolled in the Madras High Court in 1935 and in the Supreme Court in 1951.[6]

While practising law, Venkataraman was drawn into the movement for India's freedom from Britain's colonial subjugation. His active participation in the Indian National Congress's celebrated resistance to the British Government, the Quit India Movement of 1942, resulted in his detention for two years under the Defence of India Rules. Venkataraman's interest in the law continued during this period. In 1946, when the transfer of power from British to Indian hands was imminent, the Government of India included him in the panel of lawyers sent to Malaya and Singapore to defend Indian nationals charged with offences of collaboration during the Japanese occupation of those two places. In the years 1947 to 1950, Venkataraman served as Secretary of the Madras Provincial Bar Federation.[7]

Political career

Law and trade activity led to Venkataraman's increasing association with politics. He was a member of constituent assembly that drafted India's constitution. In 1950, he was elected to free India's Provisional Parliament (1950–1952) and to the First Parliament (1952–1957). During his term of legislative activity, Venkataraman attended the 1952 Session of the Metal Trades Committee of International Labour Organisation as a workers' delegate. He was a member of the Indian Parliamentary Delegation to the Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference in New Zealand. Venkataraman was also Secretary to the Congress Parliamentary Party in 1953–1954.[8][4]

Although re-elected to Parliament in 1957, Venkataraman resigned his seat in the Lok Sabha to join the State Government of Madras as a Minister. There Shri Venkataraman held the portfolios of Industries, Labour, Cooperation, Power, Transport and Commercial Taxes from 1957 to 1967. During this time, he was also Leader of the Upper House, namely, the Madras Legislative Council.[9]

As Minister of Industries

Venkataraman was appointed as a Member of the Union Planning Commission in 1967 and was entrusted the subjects of Industry, Labour, power, Transport, Communications, Railways. He held that office until 1971. In 1977, Venkataraman was elected to the Lok Sabha from Madras (South) Constituency and served as an Opposition Member of Parliament and Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee.[10]

Venkataraman was also, variously, a member of the Political Affairs Committee and the Economic Affairs Committee of the Union Cabinet; Governor, International Monetary Fund, the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, and the Asian Development Bank. Venkataraman was a Delegate to the United Nations General Assembly in 1953, 1955, 1956, 1958, 1959, 1960 and 1961. He was Leader of the Indian Delegation to the 42nd Session of the International Labour Conference at Geneva (1958) and represented India in the Inter Parliamentary Conference in Vienna (1978). He was a member of the United Nations Administrative Tribunal from 1955 to 1979 and was its President from 1968 to 1979.[11][12]

As Minister of Defence

In 1980, Venkataraman was re-elected to the Lok Sabha and was appointed Union Minister of Finance in the Government headed by Smt. Indira Gandhi. He was later appointed Union Minister of Defence, here he is credited for initiating India's missile programme, he shifted A P J Abdul Kalam from space programme to the missile programme, and consolidated the entire missile system, naming it as Integrated Guided Missile Development Program.[13][14]

Vice President and President of India

Presidential styles of
Ramaswamy Venkataraman
Emblem of India.svg
R Venkataraman.jpg
Spoken stylePresident R. Venkataraman
Alternative styleMr. President

Later he was to serve as Vice-President of India and then as a President of India starting 1987, where he worked with four prime ministers, and appointed three of them: V. P. Singh, Chandra Shekhar and P. V. Narasimha Rao, during his five-year term, which saw the advent of coalition politics in India. His successor S. D. Sharma was the only other Indian President in 20th Century to work with four prime ministers and appoint three of them.[15][16]

As President of India Venkataraman led 11 state visits including to USSR, Pakistan, Japan and China.[17]
As President of India Venkataraman led 11 state visits including to USSR, Pakistan, Japan and China.[17]

Honours and accolades

A 2012 stamp featuring President Venkataraman
A 2012 stamp featuring President Venkataraman

Venkataraman received the Doctorate of Law (Honoris Causa) from the University of Madras. He is an Honorary Fellow, Madras Medical College; a Doctor of Social Sciences, University of Roorkee; Doctor of Law (Honoris Causa) from the University of Burdwan. He was awarded The Tamra Patra for participation in the freedom struggle, the Soviet Land Prize for his travelogue on K. Kamaraj's visit to the Socialist countries. He was the recipient of a Souvenir from the Secretary-General of the United Nations for distinguished service as President of the U.N. Administrative Tribunal. The title of "Sat Seva Ratna" was conferred on him by the Sankaracharya of Kancheepuram. He was a great devotee of the Paramacharya of Kanchi.[18][5]

Illness and death

On 12 January 2009, Venkataraman was admitted to the Army Hospital (Research and Referral ) with complaints of Urosepsis (sepsis caused by a urinary tract infection).[19] His condition grew critical on 20 January, when he was detected with low blood pressure and E. coli tract infection.

Venkataraman died at the Army Hospital (was Research and Referral) New Delhi on 27 January 2009 at 14:30 IST[19] due to multiple organ failure at the age of 98.[20] Since he died on the day after Republic Day, some programmes coinciding it were cancelled to mark the respect towards the late former President. He was cremated with full state honours at Ekta Sthal near Raj Ghat. President Pratibha Patil, Vice President Mohammad Hamid Ansari, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and various other leaders condoled his death.

Books by Venkataraman

Books on Venkataraman


  1. ^ Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc. (1 January 2010). Encyclopaedia Britannica Almanac 2010. Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc. pp. 87–. ISBN 978-1-61535-329-3.
  2. ^ Vinay Kumar (28 January 2009) R. Venkataraman passes away[Usurped!]. The Hindu
  3. ^ "Shri Ramaswami Venkataraman – R.Venkataraman – Past President of India". Pastpresidentsofindia.indiapress.org. Retrieved 13 September 2012.
  4. ^ a b "Members Bioprofile". loksabhaph.nic.in. Retrieved 18 September 2020.
  5. ^ a b Gandhi, Gopalkrishna (4 December 2010). "The value of decency". The Hindu. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 18 September 2020.
  6. ^ Venkataraman presided over the change to era of coalitions The Hindu, 28 January 2009.
  7. ^ "July 16, 1987: Venkataraman elected Indian President". gulfnews.com. Retrieved 18 September 2020.
  8. ^ Grewal, Kairvy (27 January 2020). "R Venkataraman — President who stuck by rulebook to guide India through troublesome times". ThePrint. Retrieved 18 September 2020.
  9. ^ "Remembering R. Venkataraman: 10 facts about the eighth President of India". India Today. 27 January 2015. Retrieved 18 September 2020.
  10. ^ "Former President R. Venkataraman Passes Away". www.outlookindia.com/. Retrieved 18 September 2020.
  11. ^ "R. Venkataraman Biography - Ramaswamy Venkataraman Profile, Childhood, Life, Timeline". www.iloveindia.com. Retrieved 18 September 2020.
  12. ^ Hazarika, Sanjoy; Times, Special To the New York (17 July 1987). "MAN IN THE NEWS; INDIA'S MILD NEW PRESIDENT: Ramaswamy Venkataraman". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 18 September 2020.
  13. ^ Venkataraman responsible for shaping missile programme: Kalam The Hindu, 27 January 2009.
  14. ^ Ministry of Defence (India)
  15. ^ Former President Venkataraman passes away The Times of India, 28 January 2009.
  16. ^ Former President R Venkataraman passes away Indian Express, 27 January 2009.
  17. ^ "DETAILS OF MEDIA PERSONS ACCOMPANYING THE PRESIDENT IN HIS/HER VISITS ABROAD SINCE 1947 TO 2012" (PDF). The President's Secretariat. Archived from the original (PDF) on 17 August 2013. Retrieved 5 June 2013.
  18. ^ "July 16, 1987: Venkataraman elected Indian President". gulfnews.com. Retrieved 18 September 2020.
  19. ^ a b "Former President R Venkataraman dies". NDTV. Archived from the original on 31 January 2009.
  20. ^ "Former President Venkataraman dead". Sindh Today. 27 January 2009. Archived from the original on 31 January 2009.

Further reading