Category Civics

Who is the 14th president of India?

Ram Nath Kovind (25 July 2017- 25 July 2022 )

Ram Nath Kovind is the 14th, and the present President of India. He assumed the office of the President of India on 25th July, 2017. Kovind has worked extensively in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.

Ram Nath Kovind was born on 1st October 1945, in Paraukh in Uttar Pradesh. His father was a landless poor man who ran a small shop to support his family.

After graduating in law from a Kanpur college, he went to Delhi to prepare for the Indian Administrative Service. He, however, did not join the administrative service, as he was selected only for the allied services. He then started practising law. He became an Advocate-on Record of the Supreme Court of India in 1978.

Ram Nath Kovind began his political career in 1994 when he was elected as a member of Rajya Sabha, from Uttar Pradesh. He focussed on education in rural areas by helping in the construction of school buildings in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand. Ram Nath Kovind was appointed as the Governor of Bihar on 8th August 2015, by the then president Pranab Mukherjee. Kovind held this office till he resigned after being nominated for the office of the President of India.

He won the presidential race by receiving 65.65 per cent of the valid votes.

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How did Pranab Mukherjee became president?

Pranab Mukherjee (25 July 2012-25 July 2017)

Pranab Mukherjee assumed the office of the President of India, on 25th July 2012. He became the President of India after four decades of political life, and is the first Bengali to hold this office.

Pranab Mukherjee was often known as the walking encyclopaedia. He held many important positions. He served as the finance minister of India from 2009 to 2012, before becoming the president. He was a senior leader of the Indian National Congress.

Pranab Mukherjee was born on 11th December 1935 in Mirati in West Bengal. He earned an MA degree in Political Science and History. He then furthered his education, and received an LLB degree from the University of Calcutta. He later worked as a teacher and a journalist. He ventured into politics and later became a member of the Rajya Sabha.

Pranab Mukherjee held various cabinet posts in different union ministries. He also had the distinction of being the minister for various high-profile ministries including defence, finance, and external affairs in various governments. As finance minister, Mukherjee signed the letter appointing Manmohan Singh as the governor of the Reserve Bank of India, who later became the prime minister of India.

Mukherjee was nominated as a presidential candidate of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) in June, 2012. He comfortably defeated PA Sangma, his opponent, by winning 70 per cent of the electoral-college votes. He was sworn in as the President of India on 25th July 2012 and held the office till 25th July 2017. After completion of his tenure as the president, Pranab Mukherjee didn’t intend to stand for a second term, owing to his failing health.

He was also a noted author, and has written many books including Off the Track, Challenges before the Nation, The coalition Years and The Presidential Years.

Pranab Mukherjee was known to be a compulsive workaholic. He worked for almost 18 hours a day, and hardly took any days off, except for his visit to Mirati, his hometown, during the Durga Puja. In 2008, he was honoured with the Padma Vibhushan.

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An interview of young achiever Fariya Maryam (founder of Project Inclusion and Ayka – For The People)

Meet Fariya Maryam from Gurgaon, Haryana, founder of Project Inclusion and Ayka – For The People. These organisations have been working through art, volunteers, and workshops to help less privileged people in areas such as education, mental health, mentrual health, etc.

How did you embark on a journey of social work?

I’ve been interested in social work from a young age and excited about starting something new. It just so happened that started pursuing my interests in Class XI, during the pandemic. It all started with Project Inclusion, which I launched to raise awareness about mental health and neurodiversity. I think it was the pressure and mental health issues affecting so many people in the pandemic that pushed me to do something about it. I decided to make this a priority and started organising weekly support groups to help people deal with their mental pressures. Then, I started connecting with people with similar interests to broaden my initiative. Expanding my interests and skills in social work led me to start Ayka – For The People, an organisation that aspires to provide skill development opportunities and access to holistic education to less privileged children. We started with painting murals in rural areas and organising nationwide donation drives for the less privileged. Furthermore, I took a lot of interest in teaching subjects such as Maths and English. The progress the students made motivated me to continue my journey.

Tell us about your non-profit organisation. What kind of impact does it hope to create?

I founded Project Inclusion in 2020 with the aim of destigmatising mental health issues. We have been raising awareness about autism and learning disorders such as dyslexia, and for the last two years been working round the clock to provide free, accessible mental health resources to all strata of society. We offer weekly workshops on anxiety, depression, and stress, and have taken up the responsibility to connect a person in dire need of help with a mental health professional for a fee. Apart from that, we’ve been educating less privileged children about mental health to deal with the pressure of examinations, bullying, etc., and less privileged women about Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS), a topic that menstrual hygiene workshops often don’t cover. So our central aim is to educate people on significantly downplayed but important topics.

How do you perceive art?

Calling art a medium of expression is an understatement. It is the means through which you get the freedom to make something of your will and show it to a large audience. It’s open to interpretation, that’s the most unique thing about art that I love. I think my art is rebellious in the sense that I have made it my aim to break stereotypes and prejudices against marginalised groups of society. I believe that art has a voice of its own and I love raising awareness through art. I understand that my art may seem provocative, but that is not my intention.

What made you start Ayka – For The People.

I started Ayka when I was 15. I was painting the walls at my grandmother’s in Jamshedpur, and our domestic help watched it in awe and wanted me to paint her house. Then, as word spread about the basic flower design I had painted, more and more people approached me to paint their walls. I started painting in several houses and then moved on to local schools wherein I created art on social and environmental issues. I also brought together a community of art students. We started painting murals and then went on to focus on improving the quality of education for less privileged children. We wanted to cultivate in students a sense of creativity. We started organising lessons on communication, art, and general knowledge. We are now around 500 people across the country, and have five branches: Delhi, Mumbai, Pune, Kolkata, and Bengaluru. So far, we’ve completed 50 wall paintings and a plethora of workshops. We are passionate about what we do. I believe when you start enjoying social work, the difference you can make is huge.

Any tips for fellow teens to keep a check on their mental health?

I’m not a professional, but I can share my experience. I think if you’re not taking care of your mental health, then you’re jeopardising your future. When I didn’t pay heed to mental health, my productivity was plummeting. But mental well-being is not all that complex. It could be as simple as going out for a walk, taking care of a plant, or practising meditation and mindfulness. These things may come off as silly for teens, but trust me, they are important.

What are your future plans?

I’m planning to pursue a degree in health sciences followed by an MBA. I want to work on developing innovative and robust solutions to deal with mental health illnesses, and I think taking up an interdisciplinary subject that explores psychology, biology, and health will certainly help me in achieving my goals.

How do you manage your time?

I am always doing something or the other. I have a habit of writing down any pending tasks and completing them one by one until I’m done with all of them. I work when I have random bursts of energy and motivation, and do not prefer a timetable-like approach.

If there is something you’d like to change in society, what would that be?

Gende stereotypes. I want to break the patriarchal social construct in India. I think discrimination would never end but improvement is certainly possible through the younger generations. All genders must fight stereotypes together for the well-being of humanity. Many people think awareness campaigns on mental health wouldn’t bring tangible results, but I think otherwise. I’ve helped many people who didn’t even know they were struggling, and I would say mental health awareness has been instrumental in their ongoing recovery.

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Nushu: world’s only secret language curated by women

Originating in China’s Jiangyong province in the 19th Century as a code of defiance against social gender inequality, Nishu (Chinese for women’s writing) is considered to be the world’s only writing system that is created and used exclusively by women.

Once upon a time…

In Ancient and Imperial China a set of moral principles called the Three Obidiences dictated the entirety of a woman’s existence. Schools and education were privileges reserved for men while ignorance was seen as a womanly virtue. These unfair stringent rules and social ideals forced women to come up with a new language to tell their stories, comfort each other, sing out their sorrows and express admiration. This was how Nushu the world’s only writing script curated and used exclusively by women came into being, Passed down through generations from mothers to daughters, Nushu is based on phonograms (where each character represents a sound). Besides communication, women also embroidered this script onto handkerchiefs, belts, shoes and fans hiding their secrets in decorative patterns.

The earliest record of Nushu

The earliest known artefact with the script on it is a bronze coin from the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom (1851-1864) unearthed in Nanjing, the capital of Jiangsu province. The characters etched in Nüshu on the coin translate to “all the women in the world are members of the same family”.

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What is the European Union? How is it significant?

There were many efforts to keep the European countries together, to achieve economic growth and military security especially after World War II. A series of plans and treaties led to the creation of the European Union. It is commonly called the EU. In the beginning, membership to the EU was limited to Western Europe alone. Initially, only a few countries were involved in the activities of the EU. They were Belgium, France, Italy, Germany, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands. Currently, the Union functions across the length and breadth of Europe and includes many other countries.

Officially established in 1993, the EU now has 27-member countries with a total population of about 447 million. It is spread across a total area of 4,233,255.3 square kilometres.

The EU is generally considered as a sui generis political entity that has the features of a federation as well as a confederation. Sui generis in Latin means ‘unique’ or ‘something that has no comparison’.

Since its inception, the EU has been integral in the unity of Europe. It has established a common market for all the member countries by standardizing the trade law system and framing standard policies on trade, agriculture, fisheries, and regional development. This standardization guarantees the free movement of people, goods, services, and capital. The EU also implements legislative measures on matters of justice and home affairs. It has an important role in international cooperation. The EU is also the world’s largest donor of development aid.

Even though Ukraine is not a member of the organisation currently, it has great interest in being a part of it.

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Who is Vladimir Putin?

Here’s the man who made the world shudder, with his attack on Ukraine. Russia’s current president, Vladimir Putin is one of the strongest leaders in the world.

He was born in Leningrad, the city now named as St. Petersburg. After graduating in law in 1975, he joined the KGB, the dreaded secret service of the Soviet Union. He was further trained at the Yuri Andropov Red Banner Institute in Moscow, and then worked in East Germany under the pretence of being a translator. He left the KGB following the coup against Mikhail Gorbachev, which he did not agree with.

Putin then sought a career in politics and was quite successful in it. He reached the highest position in Russia in 2000. Among all the current presidents in Europe, Putin is the second longest serving – behind only Alexander Lukashenko of Belarus. In fact, the Russian constitution allowed a person to serve as president only for two terms. To get around this problem, a shrewd Putin chose to be the prime minister in 2008, swapping places with the then prime minister Dimitri Medvedev. Putin was re-elected as president in 2018, for the fourth time. In April 2021, he changed the constitution so as to allow him to be elected as president for two more terms. This would enable him to remain as president until 2036.

Putin’s rule of Russia is characterized by a shift to authoritarianism. His government is also accused of gross human rights abuses. Most recently, the attack on Ukraine has added to his image as a ruthless ruler.

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