Dr. Shankar Dayal Sharma
( 19th August,1918 - 26th December 1999) was the ninth President
of the Indian Republic and served his tenure from 1992 to
1997. Before he was elected to the post of President, he
served as the eighth Vice President of India.
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.