Dr. Rajendra Prasad, First President of IndiaDr. Rajendra Prasad, the first President of India had voluntarily reduced his salary although he was hard- pressed for money.

In 1951, he reduced his salary from Rs 10000 to Rs 5000 and again in 1957 from Rs 5000 to Rs 2500. Even in those days, it was a rare feat which has not been repeated by anyone holding such a high till date.

The President knew full well the implications of his action. In a letter written to a member of his staff Gyanwati Darbar, on July 17, 1960, he says:

“…..It was all so easy and looked nice and sounded very patriotic to announce the voluntary cut. But the difficulty arises now when I have to frame a budget within what I shall get after deducting the taxes. A great part of expenses is for the education of my grandchildren. People may say that I am not under obligation and it is for the parents of the children to meet the expenses of their education. But I have so long been meeting the expenses and it is difficult for me to think that the parents will be able to meet the expenses without discomfort and inconvenience. But there is no help. Education is very expensive now and it is becoming more and more difficult for all middle-class people to meet them. Why should I consider it necessary to be unlike others of my class and group and not be content with what others have to be content with? That is reason—but life is more than reason—there is sentiment also.”

In another letter to her, he observes:

“….I have not been able to save any mentionable amount for my old age (he was in his late seventies at that time) and will have to depend on such pension as may be allowed to me. Why is it that is the position now? It is true I have to look after a great part of the family and also to meet largely the expenses of education of the children and the marriage of the girls, still, I should not think of this at this stage in my life.”

However, even this noble gesture made by the late President was misconstrued by some people who described it as a part of his strategy to remain in office for the third consecutive term.


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