India's President Pranab Mukherjee Inaugurated


Ayanna Nahmias, Editor-in-ChiefLast Modified: 21:40 PM EDT, 25 July 2012

India's President Pranab Mukherjee, Photo by IndoIndiansNEW DELHI, India – Today, President Shri Pranab Mukherjee, 76, was sworn into office in a resplendent ceremony held in the Central Hall of Parliament. He replaces Pratibha Patil, India’s first woman president, and will serve a five-year term.

Millions of people across India watched as President Mukherjee was sworn in followed by a 21-gun salute accompanied by applause from lawmakers and top military brass. Mr. Mukherjee's presidency has been warmly received with the hope and expectancy befitting a dedicated public servant who has been charged with navigating the country to greater prosperity.

His acceptance speech was peppered with the usual platitudes – specifically, commitments to end hunger, implement development programs, and create opportunities for young Indians to embrace entrepreneurship and thus improve their economic situation.

Each of these are laudable goals, but in a country with nearly 1.3 billion inhabitants according to a 2011 World Bank survey, this is a gargantuan and complex undertaking that would in all likelihood take years if not decades of concerted effort to ameliorate.

However, Mr. Mukherjee has the benefit of heading a nation that has the fastest growing economy in the world. According to a Morgan Stanley report, India is poised to accelerate its growth rate to 9-9.5% over 2013-15, driven by a sterling demographic dividend, continuing structural reform and globalization.”

Mr. Mukherjee  is a veteran government official who has served as foreign minister, defense minister and finance minister, the latter twice. Each of these roles recommends him to the position to which he has been elected, but his position as defense minister provides insight into the portion of his speech in which he spoke about terrorism.

He stated that, “We are in the midst of a fourth world war; the third was the Cold War, but it was very warm in Asia, Africa and Latin America till it ended in the early 1990s. The war against terrorism is the fourth. India has been on the front line of this war long before many others recognized its vicious depth or consequences." (Source: Hindustan Times)

This commitment to sustaining the strong relationship between India, its allies, and the U.S., with which it shares an extensive cultural, strategic, military, and economic relationship, is vital to successfully combating the ongoing fight against extremism in Asia and beyond.

If Mr. Mukherjee’s government successfully holds the line against the ‘barbarians at the gates,’ he may indeed have the time and requisite focus to resolve the complex issues of eradicating hunger and elevating people from the lowest levels of society, but for today, India is rejoicing in the election of their 13th president.

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