Pratibha Devisingh Patil (Marathi: प्रतिभा देवीसिंह पाटील) (born 19 December 1934) is the 12th and current President of the Republic of India and first woman to hold the office. She was sworn in as President of India on 25 July 2007, succeeding Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam.
Pratibha Patil, a member of the Indian National Congress (INC), was nominated by the ruling United Progressive Alliance and Indian Left. She won the presidential election held on 19 July 2007 defeating her nearest rival Bhairon Singh Shekhawat .
Patil represented Edlabad constituency in Jalgaon District, Maharashtra as a member of the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly (1962–1985), and was deputy chairwoman of the Rajya Sabha (1986–1988), Member of Parliament from Amravati in the Lok Sabha (1991–1996), and the 24th, and the first woman Governor of Rajasthan (2004–2007).
Smt. Pratibha Devisingh Patil was born on December 19, 1934 in Nadgaon village of Jalgaon District, Maharashtra.
Smt. Patil assumed office as the 12th President of India on July 25, 2007. She is the first woman to have been elected to this august office.
Immediately prior to election as the President of India, Smt. Patil was the Governor of Rajasthan from November 8, 2004 till June 21, 2007.
Smt. Patil received her early education from RR Vidyalaya, Jalgaon and later obtained her Master’s degree in Political Science and Economics from the Mooljee Jetha College, Jalgaon. Later, she obtained the degree of Bachelor of Laws (LL.B.) from Government Law College, Bombay (Mumbai). While in college, she took active part in sports, excelled in table tennis and won several shields at various Inter-collegiate tournaments. Even as an MLA, she pursued her studies as a law student.
Smt. Patil started her professional career as a practicing lawyer at the Jalgaon District Court and simultaneously devoted herself to various social activities, especially, for the upliftment of poor women.
Together with her husband, she set up an educational institute, Vidya Bharati Shikshan Prasarak Mandal, which runs a chain of schools and colleges in Jalgaon and Mumbai. She has also set up Shram Sadhana Trust that runs hostels for working women in New Delhi, Mumbai and Pune and an engineering college in Jalgaon. She also founded and was the chairwoman of a cooperative sugar factory known as Sant Muktabai Sahakari Sakhar Karkhana and a cooperative bank named after herself as Pratibha Mahila Sahakari Bank. She was also involved in setting up an Industrial Training School for the visually challenged in Jalgaon and running a school for poor children of Vimukta Jatis and Nomadic tribes.
At the young age of 27 years, she successfully contested her first election to the Maharashtra State Legislature from the Jalgaon Assembly constituency. Subsequently she was continuously elected four times as MLA from the Edlabad (Muktai Nagar) constituency till 1985. Thereafter, she served as a Member of Parliament in the Rajya Sabha from 1985 to 1990 and later elected as a Member of Parliament to the 10th Lok Sabha in the 1991 General Elections from the Amravati constituency. She enjoys the unique distinction of not having lost a single election that she contested till date.
Smt. Pratibha Devisingh Patil in her long stint in Maharashtra has held various positions both in the Government and the Legislative Assembly of Maharashtra. She was:
- Deputy Minister, Public Health, Prohibition, Tourism, Housing and Parliamentary Affairs, Government of Maharashtra from 1967 to 1972,
- Cabinet Minister, Social Welfare, Government of Maharashtra from 1972 to 1974,
- Cabinet Minister, Public Health and Social Welfare, Government of Maharashtra from 1974 to 1975,
- Cabinet Minister, Prohibition, Rehabilitation and Cultural Affairs, Government of Maharashtra from 1975 to 1976,
- Cabinet Minister, Education, Government of Maharashtra from 1977 to 1978,
- Cabinet Minister, Urban Development and Housing, Government of Maharashtra from 1982 to 1983, and
- Cabinet Minister, Civil Supplies and Social Welfare, Government of Maharashtra from 1983 to 1985.
- While in the Opposition, she also served as the Leader of Opposition in the Legislative Assembly of Maharashtra from July 1979 to February 1980.
While in the Rajya Sabha, Smt. Patil was the Deputy Chairperson, Rajya Sabha from 1986 to 1988 and also served as the Chairperson, Rajya Sabha from 25.7.1987 to 2.9.1987 when Dr. R. Venkataraman got elected as President of India. She was also the Chairperson, Committee of Privileges, Rajya Sabha and Member, Business Advisory Committee, Rajya Sabha from 1986 to 1988. While in the Lok Sabha, Smt. Patil was the Chairperson, House Committee.