President Ram Nath Kovind | PTI
New Delhi: President Ram Nath Kovind, who rose from being a grassroots level politician to becoming the country's first citizen, has long been an advocate of egalitarianism and integrity in the society.
Sworn in as the country's 14th President on July 25, 2017, he is all set to bid adieu to the Rashtrapati Bhavan on Sunday after completing his full five-year term which was marked by the unprecedented coronavirus pandemic.
He brought to the office of President a rich experience of working across the spectrum of the republic, from the grassroots to the apex court and Parliament.
Former Jharkhand governor and National Democratic Alliance (NDA) nominee Droupadi Murmu will occupy the top constitutional post.
Murmu, who defeated Opposition candidate Yashwant Sinha, will be the first woman from the tribal community to become the president.
Kovind, a passionate advocate of education as a tool for social empowerment, has been actively supporting greater participation of women in nation-building and consistently calling for the society to create more opportunities for the deprived sections, especially the disabled and the orphans.
His vision and commitment towards the country's development was reflected in his speech after taking over as the President.
Addressing the gathering then, Kovind had referred to his humble background and said he grew up in a mud house in a small village and that his journey to the presidency had been a long one.
"It is so telling of our nation and our society also. For all its problems, it follows that basic mantra given to us in the preamble to the Constitution - of ensuring justice, liberty, equality and fraternity - and I will always continue to follow this basic mantra," he had said.
Kovind had then said the key to India's success is its diversity.
"Our diversity is the core that makes us so unique. In this land we find a mix of states and regions, religions, languages, cultures, lifestyles and much more. We are so different and yet so similar and united," he had said on July 25, 2017.
After his election to the highest constitutional office, Kovind (aged 76) has discharged his duties as the first citizen of India with foresight and humility.
He has paid state visits to 33 countries till June, enhancing India's global outreach and footprint, according to the Rashtrapati Bhavan.
On these State visits, Kovind conveyed India's timeless message of peace, progress and harmony.
As the President of India, he received the highest State honours from six countries - Madagascar, Equatorial Guinea, Eswatini, Croatia, Bolivia and Republic of Guinea.
Kovind, as the supreme commander of the armed forces of India, in May 2018 made a historic visit to the troops deployed at 'Kumar Post' in Ladakh's Siachen, the highest battlefield in the world.
Born in a family of modest means at village Paraunkh in Uttar Pradesh's Kanpur district, he had a humble beginning.
Through his consistent and hard work, he rose to become a lawyer, parliamentarian and Bihar governor before taking over the highest constitutional post.
He enrolled as an advocate with the Bar Council of Delhi in 1971 and served as counsel of the Union government in the Delhi High Court from 1977 to 1979.
In 1978, he became an advocate-on-record with the Supreme Court of India. From 1980 to 1993, Kovind was standing counsel for the Union government in the apex court.
Under the free legal aid society of New Delhi, he also provided pro-bono aid to weaker sections of society, especially women and the poor.
Kovind was elected as a member of Rajya Sabha from Uttar Pradesh, effective from April 1994. He served two consecutive terms of six years each till March 2006.
Kovind was appointed governor of Bihar on August 8, 2015.
His term as the governor received all-round appreciation for upholding the values of the Constitution.
Kovind, in his capacity as chancellor, introduced several reforms and modern technology in the working of state universities and brought transparency in the appointment of vice-chancellors.
He earned respect from leaders of all political parties for his statesmanship, sagacity and adhering to democratic ethos.
Kovind's achievements as governor paved the way for his credentials as a candidate for the presidency in 2017. He became the second Dalit to occupy the top constitutional post after K R Narayanan, who was the first Dalit president of the country from July 25, 1997 to July 25, 2002.
An avid reader with a keen interest in books on politics and social change, law, history and spirituality, Kovind is married to Savita Kovind. They have a son and a daughter.