Thousands of Sikhs gathered outside the New Delhi home of India's new president on July 19.
SV Singh with garlands being draped round his neck by admirers. (2 SHOTS)
SV People congratulating Singh on his victory.
SV More garlands being placed round Singh's neck.
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Background: Thousands of Sikhs gathered outside the New Delhi home of India's new president on July 19. Mr. Zail Singh was elected to the presidency on July 15. He is India's seventh president and the first Sikh to hold the office. At a time when some Sikhs have been clamouring to secede from the Indian Republic, the victory was celebrated with great enthusiasm and Sikh leaders showered Mr. Singh with gifts and garlands. Sixty-six-year-old Zail Singh, who was born in a mud hut, was always assured of success in the election as he was nominated by Prime Minister Indira Gandhi's ruling Congress (I) Party, which holds a majority in the electoral college. Opposition leaders criticised Mrs Gandhi's choice of one of her most ardent supporters and they pressed for a candidate acceptable to all parties. The new president will serve a five-year term. Although the post is largely ceremonial, it can become crucial in times of crisis. Mr. Singh will be sworn in on July 25, a day after incumbent President Sanjiva Reddy ends his five-years in the office.