Former President of India Shri Narayanan received his education from the University of Travancore where he obtained an M.A. degree in English Literature standing first in the University. Later, he obtained B.Sc (Econ.) degree from the London School of Economics with First Class Honours specialising in Political Science.
Shri Narayanan started his career as a Lecturer in the University of Travancore (1943). Later he took to journalism and worked with The Hindu, Madras (now Chennai) and Times of India, Bombay (now Mumbai - 1944-45). While a student in London, he served as the London Correspondent of "Social Welfare", a weekly from Bombay edited by Shri K.M. Munshi (1945-48). Shri Narayanan joined the Indian Foreign Service in 1949 and served in Indian Embassies in Rangoon, Tokyo, London, Canberra and Hanoi and held different positions in the Ministry of External Affairs.
In between he taught Economic Administration at Delhi School of Economics from 1954-55 and was also the Joint Director of the Orientation Centre for Foreign Technicians. Shri Narayanan also served as India's Ambassador to Thailand (1967-69), Turkey (1973-75), the People's Republic of China (1976-78) and Secretary, Ministry of External Affairs (1976).
After retirement from the Foreign Service in 1978, Shri Narayanan was appointed as Vice-Chancellor of Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi in January 1979 and held the post till October 1980. Shri Narayanan was sent as a political appointee to be India's Ambassador to the United States of America from 1980-84. After completing his term as Indian Ambassador to USA, Shri Narayanan entered politics and won three successive General Elections in 1984,1989 and 1991 from his Parliament Constituency of Ottapalam in Kerala. He was Member of Parliament (Lok Sabha) from 1985 to 1992.
During this period he was Union Minister of State for Planning (1985), External Affairs (1985-86) and Science and Technology, Atomic Energy, Space, Electronics and Ocean Development and Vice-President, Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (1986-89). Shri Narayanan was elected Vice-President of India and served in this position from 21st August, 1992 till he assumed the office of the President of India in July 1997. He was ex-officio Chairman of the Rajya Sabha (Upper House of Parliament) during this period.
Shri Narayanan has been a Member of various Indian delegations to :
(i) United Nations General Assembly (1979),
(ii) the UN Security Council in November 1985 on Namibian Independence,
(iii) Conference of Non-aligned Nations at Harare (1986) and
(iv) the Special Session of the UN General Assembly in May 1986 on the critical situation in Africa.
Shri Narayanan has been associated with several institutions in diverse capacities. He was President, Indian Council for Cultural Relations; President, Indian Institute of Public Administration; President, Ramakrishna Mission Institute of Cultures, Calcutta; Patron of the International Award for Young People - India.
Shri Narayanan has also served as Chairman of
(i) The Jury of the Jawaharlal Nehru Award for International Understanding;
(ii) The International Jury for the Indira Gandhi Prize for Peace, Disarmament and Development;
(iii) The Advisory Committee for the Rajiv Gandhi Sadbhavana Award;
(iv) The Jury for International Gandhi Award for Leprosy;
(v) The Jury for Indira Gandhi Paryavaran Puraskar;
(vi) The Jury for Dr. B.R. Ambedkar Award for Social Understanding and Upliftment of Weaker Sections;
(vii) The Jury for Dr. B.R. Ambedkar International Award for Social Change;
(viii) The Jury for G.D. Birla Awards for Humanism, India's Heritage and Culture and Rural Uplift; and
(ix) The Jury for Communal Harmony Awards.
- Academic Distinctions and Pursuits
A scholar and writer, Shri Narayanan has authored three books viz.,
(i) "India and America : Essays in Understanding";
(ii) "Images and Insights"; and
(iii) "Non-alignment in Contemporary International Relations" (Joint Authorship).
He has also contributed a number of articles on social, political, international and literary matters in various magazines and periodicals.
Shri Narayanan is a Member of the Universal Academy of Cultures, Paris; Honorary Fellow of London School of Economics; Honorary Fellow, Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research, Bangalore; Honorary Fellow of Centre for Development Studies, Kerala. He was awarded the Jawaharlal Nehru Fellowship in 1970-72 for study of Pandit Nehru's Non-alignment. The President received the World Statesman Award of The Appeal of Conscience Foundation, New York in 1998. Shri Narayanan has received several degrees and honours. These are : Doctor of Science (Honoris Causa), University of Toledo, USA; Doctor of Laws (Honoris Causa), Australian National University; Australian National University has instituted an annual "K.R. Narayanan Oration"; Honorary Professor of Bishkek Humanities University (Kyrghyz Republic); Vachaspati (D. Litt) (Honoris Causa), Sampurnanand Sanskrit University, Varanasi; Doctorate (Honoris Causa), University of San Marcos, Peru; Doctorate of Letters (Honoris Causa), Tribhuvan University, Nepal; Doctorate of Political Science (Honoris Causa), Bilkent University, Turkey. .
Shri Narayanan is the Visitor of Delhi University, Jawaharlal Nehru University and several other Central Universities. He has also been the Chancellor of Delhi University, Punjab University, Pondicherry University, Assam University, North Eastern Hill University and Gandhigram Rural Institute (Deemed University); Visitor of Makhanlal Chaturvedi National University Institute of Journalism, Bhopal; Visitor of Madras School of Economics. Shri Narayanan has delivered Convocation Addresses at several Universities in India and abroad. The President has gone on State Visits to Peru, Brazil, Nepal, Germany, Portugal, Luxembourg and Turkey.
Special Areas of Interests and Hobbies
Political thought and international affairs, education; philosophy of science and social applications of science and technology; Poetry, Literature and the fine arts; Folk and Classical Music; Walking. Shri Narayanan is Patron of various social, cultural and sports organisations.
Shri Narayanan is married to Smt. Usha Narayanan. Smt. Narayanan has a Masters Degree from the Delhi School of Social Work, Delhi University and her field of specialization is 'Juvenile Delinquency'. Smt. Narayanan is closely involved in social welfare activities for women and children. As National President of KARUNA, an all-India organization for the welfare of women and children from 1985 to 1992, she was responsible for building Working Girls' Hostels and Day Care Centres, Potters' Cooperatives and Sericulture projects in Kerala. She is actively associated with women's organisations in India.
In addition to interest in landscaping, gardening, orchid cultivation, Ikebana and Bonsai, Smt. Narayanan has also translated Burmese short stories into English. Most of them have been published in the national fortnightly journal "Frontline". A collection of her translations of Thein Pe Myint's Burmese Short Stories was published as a book entitled "Sweet and Sour" in December 1998. Smt. Narayanan has also worked with All India Radio for many years, translating and broadcasting news and talks for the External Services of A.I.R.