Ramaswamy Venkataraman, Indian politician, government official, and lawyer who was president of India from 1987 to 1992.
Venkataraman studied law at the University of Madras and began his legal practice in 1935. He became involved in India’s independence struggle and was consequently jailed by the British (1942-44).
After his release he continued to practice law and helped draft India’s constitution, which was adopted in 1950. Venkataraman was elected to independent India’s Provisional Parliament in 1950 as a member of the Indian National Congress party.
He subsequently was a member of the Lok Sabha (the lower house of the Indian parliament) from 1952 to 1957 and from 1977 onward. From 1957 to 1967 he was minister of industry and labor for the state of Madras (now Tamil Nadu).
Venkataraman eventually joined the central government, serving as minister of finance and industry (1980–82) and minister of defense (1982-84).
After serving as vice president of India in 1984-87, he was elected to the largely ceremonial post of president in July 1987.
His political career:
Law and trade activity led to Venkataraman’s increasing association with politics. He was a member of the 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 the International Labor Organization 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.
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, Labor, 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.
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 the 20th Century to work with four prime ministers and appoint three of them.
His 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).
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 due to multiple organ failure at the age of 98.
Since he died on the day after Republic Day, some programmes coinciding with it were canceled to mark the respect towards the late former President.
He was cremated with full state honors at Ekta Sthal near Raj Ghat. Then President Pratibha Patil, then Vice President Mohammad Hamid Ansari, then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and various other leaders condoled his death.