KR Narayanan was the first Indian President from Dalit community. He was also the first person from Kerala to be elected as the President of the nation.
Narayanan was born on 27 October 1920 in Uzhavoor. His father Raman was an Ayurvedic practitioner. The family was struggling in poverty when Narayanan was born.
Narayanan had to walk for 7 kms daily to school. Those days, the backward castes had no reservation in education. Initially, Narayanan struggled to pay fees but later he got help from Harijan Sevak Samaj. He finished his school education with a scholarship. He completed the higher educationin CMS College, Kottayam and University College, Trivandrum.
Then he departed to Delhi, searching for a job. There he got appointed in the office for Non Residential Indian Affairs in the Secretariate. Three weeks later, he resigned and joined the magazine 'Commerce and Industry'.
That time he also got offers from The Hindu newspaper and Tata scholarship. He worked at The Hindu for an year before joining The Times of India as a reporter. Later he went to London for studies. There he got acquainted with VK Krishna Menon and became a part of Indian League.
He also worked as the London correspondent of the weekly Social Welfare from Bombay. Upon his return in 1948,Narayanan was appointed in the Foreign service on the advise of Nehru. He then went on to be the Indian Ambassador to Thailand, Turkey and China. He retired from the service in 1978 and became the Vice Chancellor of Jawaharlal Nehru University. In 1980, he was appointed as the American Ambassador by Indira Gandhi. After return, he entered politics at the request of Indira. In the next general elections, he contested from Ottappalam constituency as a Congress candidate. He got elected for a fair margin, becoming the Minister of Planning in Rajiv Gandhi cabinet. He later became the Minister for Science and Technology as well.
Narayanan was elected as a Lok Sabha member 2 more times. He became the Vice President of the country in 1992. In 1997, he succeeded Sankar Dayal Sharma as the 10th President of India, governing the office till 2002.
After his retirement, KR Narayanan lived in Delhi until he passed away in 2005. He had been honoured with doctorates by many universities across the world. He was once referred to as the 'best diplomat of the country' by Jawaharlal Nehru. The KR Narayanan Foundation, formed in 2005 in Kerala after his death, aims to propagate his ideals across the world.