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India Swears-In First Female President


India has sworn in its first female president.

Pratibha Patil, of the ruling Congress Party, took the oath of office Wednesday, in New Delhi.

The 72-year old lawyer defeated India's vice president, Bhairon Singh Shekhawat of the Bharatiya Janata Party, in a vote by federal and state legislators last week. Her election followed a bitter campaign during which the opposition raised questions about scandals involving her family members.

Ms. Patil, the former governor of northwestern Rajasthan state, succeeds Abul Kalam, who chose not to run for another term.

Under India's constitution, the president holds a largely ceremonial role.

Some critics charge that Ms. Patil will be little more than a pawn of the Congress party, led by Sonia Gandhi.

But human rights advocates say Ms. Patil could raise the status of women and girls in a country where they still face severe gender discrimination.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.