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Hamid Ansari – Vice President, Diplomat and Educationist

Hamid Ansari, when he retired as the Vice President this month, along with Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, held the record for being a Vice President for a 2 continuous terms. With his retirement,he also joined the list of Vice Presidents, who did not go on to become Presidents.

Hamid Ansari has had a chequered career as a career diplomat specializing in Middle East Affairs. His stint in the Diplomatic Corps include postings at Iran, Saudi Arabia etc. Post his retirement he is now the Chancellor of Pondicherry University , President of Indian Institute of Public Administration and Indian Council of World Affairs.

During his time, Rajya Sabha TV popularly known as RSTV gained tremendous popularity. Under the leadership of Hamid Ansari, RSTV hired well known journalists to provide unbiased reporting on Parliamentary matters. Well known Journalists like Bharat Bhushan, editor of Catchnews, Siddharth Varadarajan and MK Venu; editors of The Wire; Urmilesh Singh and Govindraj Ethiraj, former editor-in-chief Bloomberg TVIndia who runs IndiaSpend.com and FactChecker.in were brought in as Guest Anchors to provide an objective view.

Hamid Ansari has been supportive of free press. His view has been that a “free and responsible” media could hold power to account in this age of “post-truths” and “alternative facts”. Freedom of the press guaranteed by the Constitution was subject “only to reasonable restrictions in the interest of the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security of the state, public order, decency, contempt of court, defamation and incitement to an offence”.

The Vice President was accorded a warm farewell by Leaders from across the political spectrum in the Rajya Sabha. Members hailed his decision to change the Question Hour from 11 am to 12 pm, which proved beneficial to the members. His being fit, even at the age of 80, was also duly noted by the Members.

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