Shankar Dayal Sharma

Shankar Dayal Sharma (pronunciation ; 19 August 1918 – 26 December 1999) was the ninth president of India, serving from 1992 to 1997. Prior to his presidency, Sharma had been the eighth vice president of India, serving under R. Venkataraman. He was also the Chief Minister (1952–1956) of Bhopal State, and Cabinet Minister (1956–1967), holding the portfolios of Education, Law, Public Works, Industry and Commerce, National Resources and Separate Revenue. He was the President of the Indian National Congress in 1972–1974 and returned to the Government as Union Minister for Communications from 1974 to 1977.

Shankar Dayal Sharma
Shankar Dayal Sharma.jpg
Sharma in 1993
9th President of India
In office
25 July 1992 – 25 July 1997
Prime MinisterP. V. Narasimha Rao
Atal Bihari Vajpayee
H. D. Deve Gowda
I. K. Gujral
Vice PresidentK. R. Narayanan
Preceded byR. Venkataraman
Succeeded byK. R. Narayanan
8th Vice President of India
In office
3 September 1987 – 25 July 1992
PresidentR. Venkataraman
Prime MinisterRajiv Gandhi
V. P. Singh
Preceded byR. Venkataraman
Succeeded byK. R. Narayanan
Governor of Maharashtra
In office
3 April 1986 – 2 September 1987
Chief MinisterShankarrao Chavan
Preceded byKona Prabhakar Rao
Succeeded byKasu Brahmananda Reddy
Governor of Punjab
Administrator of Chandigarh
In office
26 November 1985 – 2 April 1986
Chief MinisterSurjit Singh Barnala
Preceded byHokishe Sema
Succeeded bySiddhartha Shankar Ray
13th Governor of United Andhra Pradesh
In office
29 August 1984 – 26 November 1985
Chief MinisterNadendla Bhaskara Rao
N. T. Rama Rao
Preceded byThakur Ram Lal
Succeeded byKumudben Manishankar Joshi
1st Chief Minister of Bhopal
In office
Preceded byPosition established
Succeeded byPosition abolished
Cabinet Minister, Government of Madhya Pradesh
In office
DepartmentsEducation, Law, Public Works, Revenue, Industry and Commerce.
President of Indian National Congress
In office
Preceded byJagjivan Ram
Succeeded byDevakanta Barua
Personal details
Born(1918-08-19)19 August 1918
Aamon, Bhopal, Bhopal State, British India
(present-day Madhya Pradesh, India)
Died26 December 1999(1999-12-26) (aged 81)
New Delhi, Delhi, India
Political partyIndian National Congress
SpouseVimala Sharma
Children2 sons, 2 daughters
Alma mater
ProfessionLawyer, Politician

The International Bar Association presented Sharma with the 'Living Legends of Law Award of Recognition for his outstanding contribution to the legal profession internationally and for commitment to the rule of law.[1]

Early life and educationEdit

Shankar Dayal Sharma was born on 19 August 1918 in the British Raj Indian village named Aamon, which is situated near Bhopal, then the capital of the princely state of Bhopal. A meritorious law student from Fitzwilliam College, Sharma was awarded the Chakravarti Gold Medal for Social Service by Lucknow University. He later worked at the Cambridge University and Lucknow University. During his tenure in these universities, he was awarded a fellowship at the Harvard law school and was elected Honorary Bencher and master of Lincoln's Inn and Honorary Fellow, Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge. While at Cambridge, Sharma was Treasurer of the Tagore Society and the Cambridge Majilis. During his tenure as Vice President of India he was Chancellor of many universities in India. Sharma participated in the struggle for Indian independence and became a member of the Indian National Congress.

Political initiationEdit

During the 1940s he was involved in the struggle for Indian independence from the British colonial rule, and joined the Indian National Congress, a party which he would remain loyal for the rest of his life. After India's independence, the Nawab of Bhopal expressed his wish to retain the Bhopal princely state as a separate unit. Sharma led public agitations against the Nawab in December 1948, leading to his arrest. On 23 January 1949, Sharma was sentenced to eight months imprisonment for violating restrictions on public meetings. Under public pressure, the Nawab later released him, and signed the agreement for merger with the Indian Union on 30 April 1949.[2] In 1952, Sharma became the chief minister of the Bhopal state and was the youngest chief minister then. He served in that position until the state reorganization of 1956, when Bhopal state merged with several other states to form the state of Madhya Pradesh.

Active political lifeEdit

During the 1960s Sharma supported Indira Gandhi's quest for leadership of the Congress Party. He was elected as the President, All India Congress Committee (AICC), in 1972 and presided over the AICC session in Calcutta. From 1974, he served in the union cabinet as the Minister for Communications from 1974 to 1977. In 1971 and 1980 he won a Lok Sabha seat from Bhopal. 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 Geetanjali Maken and son-in-law Lalit Maken, a young member of parliament and a promising political leader, 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 Maharashtra until 1987 when he was elected for a 5-year term as the eighth Vice-President of India and chairman of the Rajya Sabha.

Sharma was known to 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.

Presidential electionEdit

Sharma served as vice-president until 1992, when he was elected President. He received 66% of the votes in the electoral college, defeating George Gilbert Swell. During his last year as president, it was his responsibility to swear in three prime ministers. He didn't run for a second term as president.


During the last five years of his life, Sharma suffered from ill health. On 26 December 1999, he suffered a massive heart attack and was admitted to a hospital in New Delhi, where he died at the age 81. He was cremated at Karma Bhumi. His second wife was Smt. Vimala Sharma. His daughter Gitanjali was shot dead along with her husband Congress MP Lalit Maken by Sikh rebels leaders named Harjinder Singh Jinda, Sukhdev Singh Sukha and Ranjit Singh Gill alias Kukki outside Maken's Kirti Nagar residence in West Delhi on 31 July 1985. They shot Lalit Maken due to his involvement in the killing of 3,000 Sikhs during the 1984 Anti-Sikh Riots[citation needed] and his daughter was caught in the crossfire.


Foreign honoursEdit


Dr. Shankar Dayal Sharma Gold MedalEdit

A 2000 stamp of India featuring President Sharma

Dr. Shankar Dayal Sharma Gold Medal is awarded in selected Indian universities. This award was constituted, in year 1994, by endowments received from Shankar Dayal Sharma. This medal is awarded to a graduating student adjudged to be the best in terms of general proficiency including character, conduct and excellence in academic performance, extra-curricular activities and social service.

In popular cultureEdit

Dr. Shankar Dayal Sharma, a 1999 Indian short documentary feature by A. K. Goorha covers his life and presidency. It was produced by the Government of India's Films Division.[3]

Literary contributionsEdit

Sharma had written a poem on the Quran during the 1970s which is highly regarded among the Hindi/Urdu-speaking Muslims of India and Pakistan.[4]

Hindi/Urdu text (transliterated) English translation[4]

Amal ki kitab thi.

Dua ki kitab bana dia.

Samajhne ki kitab thi.

Parhne ki kitab bana dia.

Zindaon ka dastoor tha.

Murdon ka manshoor bana dia.

Jo ilm ki kitab thi.

Usay la ilmon ke hath thama dia.

Taskheer-e-kayenaat ka dars denay aayi thi.

Sirf madrason ka nisaab bana dia.

Murda mumalik ko zinda karne aayi thi.

Murdon ko bakhshwane per laga dia.

Aye Muslimeen ye tum nay kia kiya?

It was a command for action.

You turned it into a book of prayer.

It was a Book to understand.

You read it without understanding.

It was a code for the living.

You turned it into a manifesto of the dead.

That which was a book of knowledge;

You abdicated to the ignoramus.

It came to give knowledge of Creation.

You abandoned it to the school.

It came to give life to dead nations.

You used it for seeking mercy for the dead.

O' Muslims! What have you done?


  1. ^ "Shankar Dayal Sharma - President of India". Retrieved 2 April 2018.
  2. ^ S. R. Bakshi and O. P. Ralhan (2007). Madhya Pradesh Through the Ages. Sarup & Sons. p. 360. ISBN 978-81-7625-806-7.
  3. ^ "DR. SHANKAR DAYAL SHARMA | Films Division". Retrieved 11 June 2021.
  4. ^ a b Gauhar, Humayun (4 July 2011). "Delusions of being Islamic". Retrieved 28 November 2017.

External linksEdit