Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed, the fifth President of India was a multifarious personality and had a keen interest in music, fine arts, poetry, and sports.


Dr. Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed was born on May 13, 1905, at Hauz Qazi area of Old Delhi. 

Shri Fakhruddin's grandfather, Shri Khaliluddin Ali Ahmed, of Kacharighat near Golaghat town in the Sibsagar district, Assam, married in one of the families who were the relics of Emperor Aurangzeb's bid to conquer Assam. Fakhruddin's father was a Col. Zalnur Ali who married the daughter of the Nawab of Lohari in Delhi.

Fakhruddin did his schooling from the Delhi Government High School and went to England to pursue higher studies in 1913. There he joined the Cambridge University. He started legal practice in the Lahore High Court in 1928. Ali Ahmed married Begum Abida Saheba of a respectable family of U.P. educated at Aligarh Muslim University on 9 November 1945.

During his stay in England, he met Jawaharlal Nehru in 1925 whose progressive ideas impressed him very much; in fact, Nehru became his mentor and friend from the thirties onwards. (Lord Bulter, one of the luminaries of the Tories was a classmate of Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed). He joined the Indian National Congress and actively participated in the freedom movement. To begin with, he offered individual satyagraha on 14 December 1940 for which he was imprisoned for a year under Section 5 of the DIR. Again, in the 'Quit India Movement,' he was arrested on 9 August 1942 while he was returning after attending the historic session of the AICC meeting held at Bombay and detained as a security prisoner for three and a half years till April 1945. In the Congress organization, he occupied several positions of responsibilities. He remained a member of the Assam Pradesh Congress Committee since 1936 except for a small break. He retained the membership of the AICC from 1947 till 1974.

Fakhruddin was a member of the Assam Pradesh Congress Committee since 1936. Fakhruddin was elected to the Assam Assembly in 1935 and became the Minister of Finance, Revenue, and Labour in on 19 September 1938. Fakhruddin was responsible for some radical taxation measures. On the outbreak of World War II in 1939, the Indian National Congress party had a confrontation with British power, and Ahmed was jailed for a year. Soon after release, he was again imprisoned for another three and a half years, being released in April 1945.

Fakhruddin was elected to Rajya Sabha from 1952 to 1953 and after that, he became the Advocate-General of the Government of Assam. He was elected to the Assam Assembly from 1957 to 1962 and again from 1962 to 1967. He joined the cabinet of Jawaharlal Nehru at the Centre in January 1966. He was elected to the Lok Sabha in 1971. He was the minister of Food and Agriculture, Cooperation, Education, Industrial Development and Company Laws.

In the Congress hierarchy, Ali Ahmed enjoyed an enviable position being a member of the Congress Working Committee for several years. In the Great Split of the Congress (1969), Ali Ahmed remained with Indira Gandhi, maybe his deep-rooted association with the Nehru family made him adhere to Indira Gandhi's leadership till his death.

Ali Ahmed was elected to the highest post of the land - the Presidentship of the Indian Republic on 29 August 1974. He held office till 11 February 1977 until his demise.

He was a tennis player and golfer, he was elected President of the Assam Football Association and the Assam Cricket Association several times. He was elected as the Vice-President of the Assam Sports Council. In April 1967 he was elected President of the All India Cricket Association and also was a member of the Delhi Golf Club and the Delhi Gymkhana Club.

Ali Ahmed passed away on 11 February 1977 in the Rashtrapati Bhavan leaving behind wife, two sons, and a daughter.