K. R. Narayanan
Narayanan, K. R. (Raman Kocheril Narayanan)näräyänänˈ, 1921–2005, Indian government official. An "untouchable" or Dalit (see Harijans), he nonetheless graduated from the Univ. of Travancore (now Kerala, 1943) with high honors. After a stint as a journalist and study at the London School of Economics, he joined India's foreign service in 1949. Narayanan served as ambassador to Thailand (1967–69), Turkey (1973–75), China (1976–78), and the United States (1980–84); in the latter two posts he worked to improve long-strained relations. He was thrice elected (1984, 1989, 1991) to parliament, held (1985–89) several ministerial posts under Rajiv Gandhi, and became vice president in 1992. From 1997 to 2002 he was India's president, becoming the first Dalit to serve in that post. As president he worked to increase the influence of the office, which had been largely ceremonial and apolitical.