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Ramaswamy Venkataraman

R. Venkataraman is the Eighth President of India. He was born on December 4, 1910 in the village of Rajamadam, Thanjavur District, Tamil Nadu. He was educated in Madras and obtained his Master Degree in Economics from Madras University. He later qualified in Law from the Law College, Madras. He was enrolled in the High Court, Madras in 1935 and in the Supreme Court in 1951. He married Smt. Janaki Venkataraman in the year 1938.

While practicing Law, Shri Venkataraman was drawn into the movement for India's freedom from Britain's colonial subjugation. His active participation in the Indian National Congress's celebrated resistance to the British Government, the 'Quit India Movement of 1942', resulted in his detention for two years under the British Government's Defence of India Rules. In 1946, the Government of India included him in the panel of lawyers sent to Malaya and Singapore to defend the Indian nationals charged with offences of collaboration during the Japanese occupation of two territories. In the years 1947 to 1950, Shri Venkataraman served as Secretary of the Madras Provincial Bar Federation. On his release from prison in 1944, Shri Venkataraman took up the Organisation of the Labour Section of the Tamil Nadu Congress Committee. He founded, in 1949, the Labour Law Journal which publishes important decisions pertaining to labour and is an acknowledged specialist publication. Shri Venkataraman came to be intimately associated with trade union activity, founding or leading several unions, including those for plantation workers, estate staff, dock-workers, railway workers and working journalists. Shri Venkataraman also took a direct and keen interest in the conditions of agricultural workers in his home district of Thanjavur.

He was elected in 1950, to free India's Provisional Parliament (1950-1952) and to the First Parliament (1952-1957). During his term of legislative activity, Shri Venkataraman attended the 1952 Session of the Metal Trades Committee of International Labour Organisation as a workers' delegate. He was a member of the Indian Parliamentary Delegation to the Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference in New Zealand. Shri Venkataraman was also Secretary to the Congress Parliamentary Party in 1953-1954.

Although re-elected to Parliament in 1957, Shri Venkataraman resigned his seat in the Lok Sabha to join the State Government of Madras as a Minister. There Shri Venkataraman held the portfolios of Industries, Labour, Cooperation, Power, Transport and Commercial Taxes from 1957 to 1967. During this time, he was also Leader of the Upper House, namely, the Madras Legislative Council.

Shri Venkataraman was appointed a Member of the Union Planning Commission in 1967 and was entrusted the subjects of Industry, Labour, power, Transport, Communications, Railways. He held that office until 1971.In 1977, he was elected to the Lok Sabha from Madras (South) Constituency and served as an Opposition Member of Parliament and Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee. In 1980, he was re-elected to the Lok Sabha and was appointed Union Minister of Finance in the Government headed by Srimati Indira Gandhi. He was later appointed Union Minister of Defence.

Shri Venkataraman has received the Doctorate of Law (Honoris Causa) from University of Madras, the Doctorate of Law from Nagarjuna University. He is Honorary Fellow, Madras Medical College; Doctor of Social Sciences, University of Roorkee; Doctor of Law (Honoris Causa) from University of Burdwan. He has been awarded The Tamra Patra for participation in the freedom struggle, the Soviet Land Prize for his travelogue on Shri Kamraj's visit to the Socialist countries. He is the recipient of a Souvenir from the Secretary-General of the United Nations for distinguished service as President of the U.N. Administrative Tribunal. The title of "Sat Seva Ratna" has been conferred on him by His Holiness the Sankaracharya of Kancheepuram.

Shri Venkataraman was elected Vice-President of India in August, 1984. He was, simultaneously, Chairman of the Rajya Sabha (Council of States), the Second Chamber of the Indian Parliament. As Vice-President of India, he was Chairman of the Jury for the Jawaharlal Nehru Award for International Understanding and of the International Jury for the Indira Gandhi Prize for Peace, Disarmament and Development. He was Vice-Chairman of the Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Fund; Trustee, Indira Gandhi Memorial Trust; President, Indian Institute of Public Administration; Chancellor, Gandhgram Rural Institute; Chancellor, Delhi University; Chancellor, Punjab University and President of the Indian Council for Cultural Relations.

Nine Unknown Men

Nine Unknown Men are a two millennia-old secret society founded by the Indian Emperor Asoka.