President Pranab Mukherjee is a man of many talents, at ease with a multitude of assignments of varying kinds. Besides managing the affairs of the state, the veteran politician is these days busy digitising historic records and books in the Rashtrapati Bhavan library, sorting his old journals to put together a book and restoring the British-era building to its pristine glory — and of course, reading.
Briefing the media at an informal interface in Rashtrapati Bhavan Tuesday, Mukherjee said the library was big enough for ‘anybody to spend five years reading’. ‘The library has records as old as government proceedings of 1891. Right now, the documents are dumped on the floor are being removed and put in order. After seeing the library in order, I will concentrate on reading.
‘I want to read official records — the history of the transfer of power and how the financial business of the government was transacted. The first budget was passed in 1892,’ Mukherjee said adding digitisation of old books and reports was his priority.
An aide to the president said: ‘Out of the 24,000 documents and records, only 4,000 have been digitised during president APJ Abdul Kalam’s tenure’.
But the ‘hardware is outdated and restorers are trying to retrieve them in a user-friendly format’. The president is also keen on writing a couple of books. ‘Not an autobiography or anything like it,’ he said. The president said he did not want to add anything new to Rashtrapati Bhavan but ‘just restore the building to its original glory’. ‘I will not change anything,’ he said. Mukherjee has recently watched Lincoln that won Daniel Day Lewis a Golden Globe award and bought a copy of Ramachandra Guha’s new essays.