President of India

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Standard of the President of India

The President of India is the ceremonial head of state and first citizen of India and the supreme commander of the Indian armed forces.

The current President of the Republic of India is Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam.



India became formally independent of the United Kingdom on August 15, 1947. However, the country remained a Commonwealth Realm and continued to observe the British monarch as Head of State, with the title downgraded from Emperor of India to King of India in 1948 after independence. The monarch was still represented by a Governor-General of India appointed by the King, but now on the advice of the Prime Minister of India.

This was a temporary measure however and was not considered appropriate for a truly sovereign nation. The first Governor-General of India, Lord Mountbatten was also the last British Viceroy before Independence. He soon handed power over to Rajagopalachari who became the first ethnically Indian Governor-General. In the meantime, the Constituent Assembly led by B. R. Ambedkar was drafting independent India's Constitution. The drafting was finished on 26 November, 1949 and but the Constitution was formally adopted on January 26, 1950, a date of symbolic importance as it was on January 26, 1930 that the Congress Party has issued the call for complete independence from the British. Before this a call from complete independence had never been issued and the struggle had been for more autonomy from the British. The Governor-General was thus replaced by an elected president and Rajendra Prasad became the first President of India.

The move ended India's status as a Commonwealth Realm but remained in the Commonwealth of Nations. Nehru argued that a nation should be allowed to stay in the Commonwealth simply by observing the British monarch as "Head of the Commonwealth" but not necessarily Head of State. This was a ground-breaking decision that would allow for many other republics to remain in the Commonwealth in future years.

Constitutional Role

Article 52 of the Constitution of India provides for a President of India. The Constitution requires that the President be a citizen of India, but it is not a condition that he be born a citizen. Article 53 states that executive power of the Union shall vest in the President, who shall exercise directly or through officers under him, this power in accordance with the Constitution. This provision is similar to the provision under Article II of the US Constitution.

The powers of the office of President were originally intended to be similar to those of the British Crown, in that he would 'reign and not rule'. A remarkable feature under the Indian constitution is Article 53 whereby parliament has the authority to confer powers and functions exercised by the president to any other authority.

An Indian President may be elected for any number of terms.

Although the Constitution explicitly says that the president is the executive head of the state, the real executive power is exercised by the council of ministers and Prime minister at the helm of it. This is to be inferred from Article 74 of the Indian Constitution, indicating a "... council of ministers to aid and advise the President who shall, in exercise of his functions, act in accordance with such advice".

The President of India's main function is the formal summoning and swearing-in of the Prime Minister.

The President is elected whenever the office becomes vacant by an electoral college consisting of:

  • Members of both Houses of Parliament
  • Members of the Unicameral Legislature or the Lower House of the Bicameral Legislature of each State

Each elector casts a different number of votes. The general principle is that the total votes cast by Members of Parliament equals the total votes cast by Legislators. Also, legislators from larger states cast more votes than those from smaller states. Finally, the number of legislators in a state matters; if a state has a few legislators, then each legislator has relatively more votes; if a state has many legislators, then each legislator has fewer votes.

The actual calculation for votes cast by a particular state is calculated by dividing the state's population by 1000, which is divided again by the number of legislators from the State voting in the electoral college. This number is the number of votes per legislator in a given state. For votes cast by those in Parliament, the total number of votes cast by all state legislators is divided by the number of members of both Houses of Parliament. This is the number of votes per member of either house of Parliament. (Note that India's electoral college is provided by law, not by the Constitution.)

The constitution also provides the mechanism for the impeachment of the President (Article 61) for the violation of the Constitution. The place of the president is peculiar in the Indian governmental setup. His functions are to be exercised in accordance with the aid and advice of the council of ministers but powers are to be exercised by the President however the rider in favour of parliament vides Article 53 of the Constitution.

The president of India swears before entering the office of the president that he shall protect, preserve and defend the Constitution (Article 60) which provides for an executive head of state who is nominal or ceremonial. The Indian Constitution must be seen as a purveyor of a system of governance where a mixture of presidential and parliamentary systems could be located.

List of Governors-General of India after independence

No. Name Took Office Left Office
01 The Earl Mountbatten of Burma Aug 15, 1947 Jun 21, 1948
02 Chakravarthi Rajagopalachari Jun 21, 1948 Jan 26, 1950

List of Presidents of India

No. Name Took Office Left Office
01 Dr. Rajendra Prasad Jan 26, 1950 May 13, 1962
02 Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan May 13, 1962 May 13, 1967
03 Dr Zakir Hussain May 13, 1967 May 03, 1969
* Varahagiri Venkata Giri May 03, 1969 Jul 20, 1969
* Muhammad Hidayat Ullah Jul 20, 1969 Aug 24, 1969
04 Varahagiri Venkata Giri Aug 24, 1969 Aug 24, 1974
05 Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed Aug 24, 1974 Feb 11, 1977
* Basappa Danappa Jatti Feb 11, 1977 Jul 25, 1977
06 Neelam Sanjiva Reddy Jul 25, 1977 Jul 25, 1982
07 Giani Zail Singh Jul 25, 1982 Jul 25, 1987
08 Ramaswamy Venkataraman Jul 25, 1987 Jul 25, 1992
09 Dr. Shankar Dayal Sharma Jul 25, 1992 Jul 25, 1997
10 Kocheril Raman Narayanan Jul 25, 1997 Jul 25, 2002
11 Dr. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam Jul 25, 2002 In Office

* Acting

External links

sv:Indiens presidenter och premirministrar


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