Learning English - Words in the News
25 July, 2007 - Published 16:47 GMT
India gets first woman president since independence
India has sworn in Pratibha Patil as its first woman president since it gained independence from British rule sixty years ago. The BBC's Sanjoy Majumder reports from the capital Delhi, where the ceremony took place:
At a colourful and impressive ceremony in the Indian parliament, Pratibha Patil was sworn in as India's thirteenth president by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, the first woman to assume the post. Earlier she received a guard of honour and was driven to parliament in a ceremonial procession accompanied by soldiers mounted on horses.
Speaking to the dignitaries gathered before her, President Patil paid tributes to those who had fought for her country's independence and said that India's democracy was a symbol of hope for the rest of the world. As president her role will be largely ceremonial; real power rests with the Prime Minister - although Mrs Patil will be commander-in-chief of one of the world's largest armed forces.
She was a surprise choice for the top job. Her critics say she lacks political stature and she courted controversy when she suggested that Indian women were forced to wear the veil to protect themselves from Muslim invaders - comments she was later forced to retract. But her supporters say she will be a role model for millions of Indian women who still face widespread discrimination.
Sanjoy Majumder, BBC News, Delhi
was sworn in
to assume the post
a guard of honour
a surprise choice
lacks political stature
a role model
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