Ram Nath Kovind takes oath as 14th President of India

Ram Nath Kovind took oath as the 14th President of India at 12:15 pm in the Central Hall of Parliament House in New Delhi today. Chief Justice of India J S Kkehar administered the oath of office to the President.

Former Bihar governor and a nominee of the ruling NDA government, Kovind is the second from among the lower caste, after KR Narayanan, to be elevated to the position of President of India.

Kovind took oath in the presence of outgoing President Pranab Mukherjee at the Central Hall of Parliament. Kovind then exchanged seats with Mukherjee and was also given a 21-gun salute after which he delivered his address to MPs of both Houses of Parliament.

Vice President Hamid Ansari, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan, union ministers, governors, chief ministers, ambassadors and other diplomats, MPs and senior civil and military officers also attended the swearing-in ceremony.

Addressing the gathering at the Central Hall of parliament, the President said it is the very institution where as members of Parliament  ''Often we agreed, sometimes we disagreed. But we learnt to respect each other. And that is the beauty of democracy.''

''I grew up in a mud house, in a small village. My journey has been a long one, and yet this journey is hardly mine alone. It is so telling of our nation and our society also. For all its problems, it follows that basic mantra given to us in the Preamble to the Constitution – of ensuring Justice, Liberty, Equality and Fraternity and I will always continue to follow this basic mantra.

''I bow to the 125 crore citizens of this great nation and promise to stay true to the trust they have bestowed on me. I am conscious I am following in the footsteps of stalwarts such as Dr Rajendra Prasad, Dr S Radhakrishnan, Dr A P J Abdul Kalam, and my immediate predecessor, Shri Pranab Mukherjee, whom we address out of affection as 'Pranab Da'.

He also paid tributes to the thousands of patriotic freedom fighters led by Mahatma Gandhi, Sardar Patel, Bhim Rao Ambedkar, who, he said, did not believe that simply political freedom was enough. ''For them, it was crucial to also achieve economic and social freedom for millions of our people.''

''The key to India's success is its diversity. Our diversity is the core that makes us so unique. In this land we find a mix of states and regions, religions, languages, cultures, lifestyles and much more. We are so different and yet so similar and united.

''The India of the 21st century will be one that is in conformity with our ancient values as well as compliant with the Fourth Industrial Revolution. There is no dichotomy there, no question of choice. We must combine tradition and technology, the wisdom of an age-old Bharat and the science of a contemporary India,'' he said..

Ram Nath Kovind was born on 1 October 1945 at Kanpur Dehat, Uttar Pradesh.

A graduate in commerce, Kovind also studied law from Kanpur University in Uttar Pradesh. He was a central government advocate in Delhi High Court from 1977 to 1979 and central government's standing counsel in the Supreme Court from 1980 to 1993. He became Advocate-on-Record of the Supreme Court of India in 1978. Since his enrolment with the Bar Council of Delhi in 1971, he practiced in the Delhi High Court and Supreme Court for about 16 years till 1993.

In April 1994, he was elected to the Rajya Sabha from Uttar Pradesh and served for two consecutive terms for 12 years till March, 2006.

He has served as a member on the several Parliamentary Committees, including those for welfare of scheduled castes and tribes. Home affairs, petroleum and natural gas, social justice and empowerment and law and justice, besides as chairman of the Rajya Sabha House Committee.

Ram Nath Kovind served as member of board of management of Dr B R Ambedkar University, Lucknow. He also served as member of the board of governors of Indian Institute of Management, Kolkata. He represented India in the United Nations and addressed the United Nations General Assembly in October 2002.

According to his profile on the Bihar Government website, Kovind, a  Dalit himself, is said to have fought for the rights and cause of weaker sections of the society, especially Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, OBCs, minorities, and women from his student days.

In 1997, during the first short-tenure of the NDA regime, Ram Nath Kovind joined a movement of SC/ST employees against the centre in getting government orders that adversely affected the interests of these marginalised communitites successfully reversed. The passage of three amendments to the Constitution of India were declared null and void due to efforts of the movement in which he took part.

During his 12-year Parliamentary tenure, Kovind is reported to have emphasised on the development of basic infrastructure for education in rural areas by helping in the construction of school buildings in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand under the MPLAD Scheme.

It is said that Kovind, as a lawyer, played a leading role in providing free legal aid to weaker sections of society, especially SC/ST women, needy and the poor under the aegis of ''Free Legal Aid Society'' in Delhi.

Married to Savita Kovind on 30 May 1974, Ram Nath Kovind has a son Prashant Kumar, who is married, and a daughter, Swati.