Missionary Kalam

No one in India today commands as much of respect as does outgoing President Dr. Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam, scientist par excellence and the rarest of rare head of state who evolved a vision to transform India into a developed country by the year 2020. Dr Kalam truly deserves the tag of a people’s President unequivocally bestowed on him by the millions of people whose lives he has inspired by his simple living and high thinking. Such was the popularity of the 75 year old Kalam that majority of the common people in India wanted a second term for him at Rashtrapati Bhavan. The so called third front even proposed his name but Dr Kalam politely refused and saved the Congress led UPA government from a major embarrassment. Despite his popularity among the masses of India, Dr Kalam graciously stepped aside from a second term and in the process saved the office of the President from the rough and tumble of electoral politics. 

There is no doubt that Dr Kalam’s tenure as President was build around his vision and mission of making India a developed nation before 2020. And in his parting shot to the people of India, the outgoing President spoke of a developed nation where governance is responsive, transparent and corruption free. This ought to remain a fundamental message and a future guiding light for both citizens and leaders. Dr Kalam also addressed parliamentarians and the challenges related to human development, governance and leadership. Another important point made by Dr Kalam was asking Parliament to adopt a vision resolution that India will be transformed into a safe, prosperous, happy and socio-economically developed nation before the year 2020 using national prosperity index (NPI) as a measure. The underlying message here is that economic growth in quantitative terms alone is not the measure of a country’s success. The truth Dr Kalam attempts to unearth is that economic growth, reforms or globalization is not fully reflected in the quality of life of a large number of people, particularly in rural India. 

As Dr Kalam leaves India’s Presidential office, a sense of regret will be felt by many people across the country because he was like no other President—a man of the masses and highly respected for his achievement both at the personal level and his immense contribution to the progress of the country especially in the field of science and technology. With his deep knowledge and high vision, Dr Kalam leaves behind a rich legacy as a President who never failed to inspire the nation and someone who always believed in the self confidence of the people. By no means, the imprint left by President Kalam on the hallowed portals of Rashtrapati Bhavan will be hard to emulate leave alone erase for times to come.