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Kalam’s vision for India

Last update - Thursday, June 18, 2009, 12:57 By Priya Rajsekar

Tentatively at first, then confidently, one after the other, the audience at Trinity College’s front square intoned the hymn on the virtues of righteousness, unable to deny the youthful enthusiasm of India’s former president, Dr APJ Abdul Kalam.

Dr Kalam is no ordinary politician. A man who rose from the masses to serve as president of India from 2002 to 2007, the scientist, humanist and thinker is widely regarded as ‘the people’s president’. Moreover, he is arguably India’s most acclaimed living scientist, who made hugely significant contributions to India’s space programme during his tenure, served as principal scientific advisor to the government of India and is credited with piloting India’s millennium vision for 2020.
Recently conferred with an honorary Doctorate of Laws by Queen’s University, Belfast, Dr Kalam was in Dublin to promote his vision of transforming India into a developed nation within the next 11 years. Over the course of his hour-long lecture, entitled ‘Vision Elevates a Nation’, he shared his dream and its blueprint with an enthralled audience.
To him, the growing bilateral trade between India and Ireland is a great opportunity for both countries. Such is not surprising coming from a man who believes the way forward is a world without borders when it comes to the sharing of ideas, a leader who believes it is education and knowledge that can free the world from the scourge of poverty.
In an atmosphere so heavy with pessimism and animosity in varying degrees, it is refreshing to say the least for one to hear the fresh voice of optimism which, especially in times like these, lifts the spirit and inspires one to work for positive change.
If anything can make a difference to the destiny of a nation that is bogged down by the burden of recession, it is visionary leadership such as that shown by Dr Kalam, which focuses on the opportunities rather than on the problems.
It can’t have been easy for the man who played a key role in India’s nuclear programme, and a question on the issue was quick in coming as well. Pointing out that peace was a means to prosperity, and that India and Pakistan could imbibe the wisdom of the Good Friday peace agreement, Dr Kalam observed that in a situation where a nation’s security is under threat, nuclear power could be a strength rather than a weakness, and that first use is never an objective.
His message to the youth in attendance was also unequivocal, as he urged them to join the political process to be actively involved in solving problems, rather than complaining from the sidelines.

Priya Rajsekar is a freelance writer

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