Prime Minister Narendra Modi presents an edition of “Constitution of India” to President Ram Nath Kovind at Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi, July 26. (PTI/RB)

Ram Nath Kovind, a lawyer-turned-politician, took over as India’s 14th president in a grand ceremony, July 25. He emphasizes that diversity is the key to India’s success.

“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 said in his acceptance speech after taking oath of office in the Central Hall of Parliament.

The 71-year-old, who took over the highest Constitutional post in the country from Pranab Mukherjee, is the first BJP leader and the second Dalit in the Rashtrapati Bhavan.

Stressing on access and opportunities for the “last person and the last girl-child from an under-privileged family,” he said, “We have achieved a lot as a nation, but the effort to do more, to do better and to do faster should be relentless. This is especially so as we approach the 75th Year of our independence in 2022.”

The former Bihar governor, described variously as low profile and unassuming, said the country needs to sculpt a robust, high growth economy, an educated, ethical and shared community, and an egalitarian society, as envisioned by Mahatma Gandhi and BJP ideologue Deen Dayal Upadhyay.

The change of guard had begun early in the morning with a gentle knock on the door of Kovind’s Akbar Road residence. It was Military Secretary to the President, Major General Anil Khosla.

Khosla, who had come with a motorcade, invited Kovind and his wife Savita to the Rashtrapati Bhavan, where Mukherjee received them in the study.

A few hours later, the roles had reversed and President Kovind escorted Mukherjee out of the Rashtrapati Bhavan.

The oath ceremony started with Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi reading out the Election Commission notification on the presidential polls declaring Kovind winner.

After Justice Khehar administered the oath of office to “preserve, protect and defend the constitution and law”, Kovind exchanged seats with Mukherjee.

Addressing the gathering, Kovind referred to his humble background and said he grew up in a mud house in a small village. His journey to the presidency had been a long one.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi offers sweet to Ram Nath Kovind on being elected as the 14th President of India, in New Delhi, July 20. (Manvender Vashist/PTI)

“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 said.

Remembering his predecessors, including Rajendra Prasad, S. Radhakrishnan, A.P.J. Abdul Kalam and Pranab Mukherjee, Kovind said the country’s Independence was the result of efforts by thousands of patriotic freedom fighters led by Mahatma Gandhi.

“These leaders did not believe that simply political freedom was enough. For them, it was crucial to also achieve economic and social freedom for millions of our people,” he said.

After the ceremony, Kovind met leaders across the political spectrum who had gathered in Central Hall.

He then left for the Rashtrapati Bhavan in the presidential limousine.

Kovind and Mukherjee reached the Rashtrapati Bhavan where the new president formally took charge.

Kovind then came out into the forecourt in the presidential buggy, a black carriage with national emblem—the Ashoka insignia—embossed in gold and drawn by six horses.

It was Mukherjee who had revived the tradition of the buggy ride.

Ram Nath Kovind addresses the media on being elected as the 14th President of India, in New Delhi, July 20. (Manvender Vashist/PTI)

Twitter Account, New Website for President Ram Nath Kovind

As President Ram Nath Kovind assumed office, his Twitter account jumped into action, informing users about activities related to the Head of State and his abode, the Rashtrapati Bhavan.

The website of the President of India has also been revamped and its new version is now online.

The Twitter account of Pranab Mukherjee, who stepped down as the president, has been archived. Mukherjee is now on the micro-blogging site with the handle @CitiznMukherjee.

“What’s happening in India and around the world happens on Twitter. Today we are paving the way for the digital transition of the President of India s official account,” said Mahima Kaul, head of public policy, Twitter India.

Kaul said a “smooth transition” between the administrations was one of Mukherjee s top priorities.

“Digital is a key pillar in today’s Internet age. The new President Ram Nath Kovind will now use the official President of India account @RashtrapatiBhvn,” Kaul said.

As Mukherjee was the 13th president, his official Twitter account history would be archived under the handle @POI13, she added.

Kovind’s Twitter handle shared details of his speech—his first as the president—at the Central Hall of Parliament after the oath-taking ceremony.

Pictures related to the swearing-in ceremony were put up on the new website of the President of India.

File pictures of the 13 Presidents preceeding President Ram Nath Kovind, (l-r), (row-wise from top to bottom), Dr. Rajendra Prasad, Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, Zakir Husain, Varahagiri Venkata Giri, Dr. Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed, Neelam Sanjiva Reddy, Gyani Zail Singh, Ramaswamy Venkataraman, Shankar Dayal Sharma, Kocheril Raman Narayanan, A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, Pratibha Patil and Pranab Mukherjee. (Press Trust of India)

Kovind Swearing In: Celebrations in Village and Kanpur City

Fireworks lit up a village in Kanpur Dehat which resounded with the sounds of celebratory drumbeats when its most famous former resident was sworn in today as the 14th President of India.

Ram Nath Kovind’s ancestral village, Paraunkh, erupted with joy, as people danced on the streets to mark the occasion.

With pujas and havans held in temples, villagers celebrated the elevation of the boy who had grown up in a mud hut and now, at 71, had moved to the Rashtrapati Bhavan.

In Kanpur city, BJP activists burst crackers in Shikshak Park as the oath-taking ceremony began in the Central Hall of Parliament in New Delhi.

“We have arranged 1,100 earthen lamps at the park, which has been decorated for the historic event,” said BJP district president Surendra Maithani.

Party workers gathered at almost every major road crossing, dancing to the beats and music of bands, he said.

“They distributed sweets to passersby,” Maithani said.

Buildings of the Kanpur Municipal Corporation, the Jal Kal Vibhag and the zonal offices of the KMC were illuminated.

Celebrations were also held at the DAV College and the BNSD Intermediate College, where Kovind had studied.

Scores of people started gathering at Kovind’s house in Dayanand Vihar in Kanpur, well before he took oath.

“People organized a ‘Ramayana Paath’ at the house and prayed for his successful stint and stay at the Rashtrapati Bhavan. The recital of this ‘paath’ crushes all negative thoughts,” Maithani said.

At Paraunkh village, television sets were installed at community centers and generators were kept handy, to ensure that nobody would miss even a moment of history in the making, he said.

A large TV screen was installed at the Mandi Samiti, where hundreds of villagers watched the oath-taking ceremony.

Meanwhile, security at Kovind’s Dayanand Vihar residence has been beefed up, sources said.