New Delhi: An active politician for over four decades, Pranab Mukherjee today completed one year in office as a copybook President, a period that was marked by proactive steps within and outside Rashtrapati Bhavan.
77-year-old Mukherjee, a stickler for rules and conventions in his heydays as parliamentarian or minister, used occasions, whenever he got in the last one year, to impress upon the lawmakers to shed disruptions in the House while asking the judiciary to avoid overreach.
He shed the "honorific" of "His Excellency" in people addressing him and sought to reach out to them taking Rashtrapati Bhavan closer to the common man.
He was seen as proactive when he disposed of the mercy petitions of 26/11 attack convict Ajmal Kasab and Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru that had triggered a controversy but his aides explain that as President he had no choice but to go by the Cabinet advice.
"A President has to function by the book," Mukherjee told a journalist at an informal tea with the media in Rashtrapati Bhavan yesterday when he was asked about people calling him an active President.
To mark the day, the President has a busy schedule today with back-to-back functions opening a public library for residents of Rashtrapati Bhavan, dedication of a cricket ground in the school within the President's estate, unveiling of a bronze statue of Mahatma Gandhi and launch of digital initiatives linked to the President's website.
During the turbulent period last year-end in the capital, the demonstrations against the rape and murder of a 23-year-old paramedical student reached the gates of Rashtrapati Bhavan seeking his intervention.
Mukherjee asked the authorities to take all steps to bring the perpetrators of this "ghastly crime" to justice and ensure that the girl's death will not be in vain.
Shaken by the ghastly crime against women and children being reported from across the country, the President in his speeches at educational institutes urged the students and the society to re-set the moral compass.
Interaction with people comes naturally to Mukherjee and this has not changed during his first year as the Head of the State, an office known for maintaining strict protocol.
Be it reaching out to the cheering crowd or interacting with the best brains of the country during discussions in educational institutions, Mukherjee enjoys every bit of his interactions with people.
During the last one year as the President of the country of over one billion people, Mukherjee had travelled to 23 states which includes five states of northeast during which he visited 36 educational institutions.
Shunning the ceremonial pomp, Mukherjee makes it a point to have an informal discussion with teachers and students whenever he is visiting an educational institute to know their point of view and convey to them his ideas.
"The Presidency has given me an opportunity to go back to academics," he said, recalling his days when he taught political science in a college in South 24 Parganas district in West Bengal.