India’s former President Pranab Mukherjee passed away today, August 31, at the age of 84. His son, Abhijit Mukherjee, took to Twitter to inform everyone of his father’s demise, thanking them for keeping him in his prayers. President Mukherjee had been in hospital in a comatose state with deteriorating health.

His son wrote on Twitter, “With a Heavy Heart , this is to inform you that my father Shri #PranabMukherjee has just passed away inspite of the best efforts of Doctors of RR Hospital & prayers ,duas & prarthanas from people throughout India ! I thank all of You”.

Pranab Mukherjee, A Champion Of Women Empowerment

Mukherjee had served as the 13th President of India from 2012 to 2017. A Bharat Ratna recipient, Mukherjee was a senior minister in the Indian National Congress and had occupied several positions in the Government since his entry into Indian politics in 1969.

President Mukherjee had always been a champion of women’s rights and empowerment. Most notably, in 2016, he spearheaded the agenda of allowing women to serve in fighter combat streams of the Indian forces. After the Indian Air Force (AIF) was opened up for women, Mukherjee had announced in the Parliament, “In the future, my government will induct women in all fighter streams of our armed forces.”

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Further, Mukherjee was a strong supporter of the Women’s Reservation Bill. The Bill, originally cleared in 2010 sought “the reservation of women in legislatures” of up to 33 percent. When VP Venkaiah Naidu pushed for this reform in 2019, the Pranab Mukherjee Foundation gave it the necessary impetus to proceed.

However, he was also of the opinion that “Legislation alone cannot emancipate our women.” In 2015, surrounding discussions around International Women’s Day, Mukherjee, said “It is an opportunity for us to renew our commitment to the security and welfare of women. Despite numerous legislations enacted to safeguard women, there is much that still remains to be done. Let us ensure that honour and respect is accorded to women at all times,” HT quoted.

End Of An Era: The Nation Mourns

Mukherjee had been admitted to the Army Hospital in New Delhi on August 10 for an operation of a blood clot in his brain. He had also at the time contracted COVID-19, following which he had developed a lung infection and kidney dysfunction, India Today reports.

Since news of his death surfaced, tributes are pouring in for the former President. Current President, Ram Nath Kovind wrote, “His demise is passing of an era. The nation mourns losing one of its worthiest sons.”

Prime Minister Narendra Modi paid his respects saying, “India grieves the passing away of Bharat Ratna Shri Pranab Mukherjee. He has left an indelible mark on the development trajectory of our nation.”

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Congress leader Rahul Gandhi wrote, “I join the country in paying homage to him. My deepest condolences to the bereaved family and friends.”

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