March 15,Inauguration of Pranab Mukherjee Foundation

For improving the standard of education and research during his tenure at the Rashtrapati Bhavan

India’s President, Pranab Mukherjee is ready to play another role: this time as patron of a foundation named after him.

The Pranab Mukherjee Foundation, which aims to work in the field of research, education, and rural development, will be inaugurated on March 15, Mukherjee’s former secretary and close aide Omita Paul said on Saturday. Paul will work as its director.

“Ours will be a small set up but we will collaborate with lot of people. Our objective is to improve the education system and make India a vibrant place for research in key scientific areas. We also want to work on creating smart villages,” Paul said.

Setting up foundations after retiring from the country’s top post is not a rare practice. Former US President Barack Obama established his foundation to “quip civic innovators, young leaders, and everyday citizens with the skills and tools they need to create change in their communities.” Earlier US presidents such as Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton, too had set up their foundations.

Mukherjee, 83, had been passionate about improving the standard of education and research during his tenure at the Rashtrapati Bhavan. He started monthly interactions with vice chancellors of Central universities and professors of IITs and other prominent institutes. “We will continue to work towards that philosophy. Many professors from IITs, IIMs and other institutes will be roped in to give their inputs in our endeavor,” said Paul.

Even as consecutive governments have focused on rural development, the foundation wants to work specifically in this sector as well. “There is a lot of gap to be filled. We want to champion the idea of smart villages. You go to villages in distant areas and see, how much work needs to be done. Of course, we well not intervene with any other agency working in the same place,” added Paul.

Mukherjee started his career as a teacher in a college before joining politics. After heading in various ministries, he was elected as the President in 2012.

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