TCPD Columns

Exploring Governors’ Data

Ananay Agarwal and Neelesh Agrawal

06 August 2021 | 2 min read

Governors are appointed by the President of India and are vested with somewhat similar powers at the state level as the President at the Central level. Governors are the nominal head of the state they are appointed in and also act as the representative of the Union Government in that state. The Constitution grants them executive, legislative and judicial powers, such as signing state laws, granting pardons or commuting sentences. They summon the sessions of state legislatures and play an important role at the time of state government formation. They can call on the President of India to impose constitutional emergency provisions, such as President’s rule. 

The Governors of India Dataset (TCPD-GID) contains information on all Governors (or equivalent administrative heads) and acting governors appointed in all the states and union territories of India since 1947. The released dataset contains data on governors’ tenure as well as on their socio-demographic profile. The data have been carefully extracted and verified from various official government sources, which document their names and tenure dates. Where official government sources proved insufficient, data was extracted from credible and verifiable news sources published by reputed and trustworthy media organisations. 

Each governor has also been assigned a unique person identifier (ID) using our tool, Surf. This helps track individuals who may have been governors across states for different tenures, or held additional charge for another state, and so on.

In this column, we provide a short overview of the dataset’s content to encourage its use by journalists, scholars or students. 

Governors’ Profile 

As of July 2021, 503 unique individuals have been appointed governors (or equivalent). 

The dataset however contains a total of 830 entries, since many individuals have been nominated multiple times. Out of them, only 28 unique individuals have been women, that is less than 6%

Figure 1: Gender-wise Nominated Governors 

Table 1: List of All 28 Female Governors (Or Equivalent)

PADMAJA NAIDUWest Bengal1956-1967
VIJAYALAKSHMI PANDITMaharashtra1962-1964
SHARADA MUKHERJEEAndhra Pradesh1977-1978
RAMDULARI SINHAKerala1988-1990
SARLA GREWALMadhya Pradesh1989-1990
SHEILA KAULHimachal Pradesh1995-1996
M.FATHIMA BEEVITamil Nadu1997-2001
V S RAMA DEVIHimachal Pradesh1997-1999
RAJANI RAIPuducherry1998-2002
PRATIBHA PATILRajasthan2004-2007
PRABHA RAUHimachal Pradesh2008-2010
Rajasthan (additional charge)2009-2010
MARGARET ALVAUttarakhand2009-2012
Gujarat (additional charge)2014-2014
KAMLA BENIWALTripura2009-2009
URMILA SINGHHimachal Pradesh2010-2015
SHEILA DIKSHITKerala2014-2014
DROUPADI MURMUJharkhand2015-2021
NAJMA HEPTULLAManipur2016-2021
KIRAN BEDIPuducherry2016-2021
ANANDIBEN PATELMadhya Pradesh2018-2019
Uttar Pradesh2019-2021
Madhya Pradesh (additional charge)2020-2021
BABY RANI MAURYAUttarakhand2018-2021
Puducherry (additional charge)2021-2021

The average tenure of governors is rather short: 806 days (~2.2 years). There are considerable variations from state to state. Telangana has seen the lowest average tenure of governors, at 363 days, that is roughly a year. Governors in Jammu & Kashmir have had the longest average tenure (1317 days, or 3.6 years). 

Figure 2: Average Days in Office

*Excluding data on A&N Islands, and Dadra & Nagar Haveli and Daman & Diu

The count of governors by state varies according to their tenure length but also according to the year of creation of states. The recently created U.T. of Ladakh got its first governor only in 2019. Rajasthan is the state that has had the largest number of governors (44), the first one having been appointed in 1949.  

Figure 2: Count of Governors (or Equivalent) by State

*Excluding data on A&N Islands, and Dadra & Nagar Haveli and Daman & Diu

**Before 2019, the Governor of Andhra Pradesh continued as Governor of Telangana when the state was split

Prior experience

Some governors are former politicians. Others come from the bureaucracy or have a liberal profession background. A break-up of prior professions shows that at least 37 governors come from public service (IAS, IFS and so forth), at least 40 come from the judiciary, and at least 32 come from the military (with the suffix Gen. or Maj. Gen. attached to their name). 

Figure 4: Titles (Prefix and Suffix)

Governors’ Multi-Term Experience

Many governors have been appointed for more than one term and even more than one state. Some can also be appointed to more than one state at the same time, though the official position is that of an “additional charge” or “acting governor”. For example, Smt. Tamilisai Soundararajan is currently serving as the 2nd Governor of Telangana and 25th Lieutenant Governor of Puducherry (additional charge) concurrently.  

Of the 503 unique individuals in the dataset, 181 have held the position for more than one term or Union Territory. B.K. Nehru holds the record of the highest number of governorships, having been appointed 8 times (Gujarat, Manipur, Nagaland, Tripura, Meghalaya, Jammu & Kashmir, and twice in Assam). 21 people have held the position for 5 or more terms, while 76 have done so for 3 or more terms.

Figure 5: Multi-Term Experience of Governors

Brief Overview of Serving Governors

There are 35 governors, Administrators, or Lieutenant Governors currently serving. Only five of them are women. 15 of these 35 governors have previously served as governors. 

Table 2: Current Women Governors

ANANDIBEN PATELUttar Pradesh29-07-2019Governor
BABY RANI MAURYAUttarakhand26-08-2018Governor
NAJMA HEPTULLAManipur27-07-2019Governor
TAMILISAI SOUNDARARAJANTelangana08-09-2019Governor
Puducherry (Additional Charge)18-02-2021Lieutenant Governor

Figure 5: Overview of Incumbents

Of the 35 incumbents, at least 2 of them are from a military background (A&N Islands, Arunachal), 3 have the title of Doctor (Arunachal, Manipur, Telangana), and 2 have the title of Professor (Assam, Odisha).

Figure 6:  Serving Governors’ Titles

Note: Some states had Acting Governors’ tenures overlapping with the tenures of the Governors on leave, while other states had these tenures separately noted. For consistency, the Governors’ tenures were accordingly disaggregated around the respective acting governors’ tenures.

Acknowledgments: We thank Gilles Verniers for his comments and suggestions.

About the Authors:

Ananay Agarwal is currently working as a Junior Research Fellow at TCPD. He graduated from Sciences Po with an M.Res in Economics. His research interests lie in Political Economy, Development, and Information.

Neelesh Agrawal is currently working as a Research Engineer at TCPD. He graduated from IIIT Hyderabad with a B.Tech (Hons) in Computer Science and MS in Computational Social Science. His research interests lie in using data science to study the modern social and political landscape.