Dr. Shankar Dayal Sharma

 

Dr. Shankar Dayal Sharma was an Indian scholar and politician, most notable for serving as President of India from 1992 until 1997. Sharma studied in Britain as a young man. He attended Cambridge University and Oxford University. He was a bar-at-law from Lincoln's Inn and taught law at Cambridge University in 1946-47. He took his M.A. degrees in English literature, Hindi and Sanskrit. Shankar Dayal Sharma was married to Vimala Sharma. During the 1940s he was involved in the struggle for Indian independence from Britain, and joined the Indian National Congress, a party which he would remain loyal to for the rest of his life. In 1952 he became the chief minister of Bhopal and served in that position until the state reorganization of 1956, when Bhopal merged with several other states to form the state of Madhya Pradesh. During the 1960s Sharma supported Indira Gandhi's quest for leadership of the Congress Party. He served in her cabinet as the minister for Communication from 1974-77. Later on, he was given a variety of ceremonial posts. In 1984 he began serving as a governor of Indian states, first in Andhra Pradesh. During this time, his daughter and son-in-law were killed by Sikh militants.

In 1985 he left Andhra Pradesh and became governor of Punjab during a time of violence between the Indian government and Sikh militants, many of whom lived in Punjab. He left Punjab in 1986 and took up his final governorship in Maharashtra. He remained governor of that state until 1987 when he was elected for a 5-year term as Vice-President of India and chairman of the Rajya Sabha. Dr Shankar Dayal Sharma was known be a stickler for parliamentary norms. He is known to have broken down in the Rajya Sabha while witnessing the members of the house create a din on a political issue. His grief brought back some order into the proceedings of the house. Sharma served as Vice-President until 1992, when he was elected President. After a difficult campaign, he received 66% of the votes in the electoral college, defeating George Swell. During his five-year term, he was active in ceremonial matters and was in charge of dismissing and appointing governors. During his last year as President, it was his responsibility to swear in three prime ministers. He did not run for a second term as President. During the last five years of his life, Sharma suffered from ill health. On October 9 1999, he suffered a massive heart attack and was admitted to a hospital in New Delhi, where he died. He was cremated near the Vijay Ghat.

 
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