A president who set a precedent! (A day with Dr. Kalam)


abdul_kalam

Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam, these words are an inspiration as far as the younger lot is concerned. The name evokes a certain enigma which defies conventional apathy to politicians and the attitude people have come to expect of people in high places. This man is really supernatural.

One thing unseemingly, Mulayam Singh Yadav did was propose his name and make him the First citizen of this country. Of all things I like about politicians (though I hate them as a class they are,) this was the best thing they did to their country. Making Dr. APJ aka Kalam the president of the country.

This man is really a superhuman being. We are just out of the euphoria of having had him at our city for a full day. Literally, the president spent his full day talking to all the cross sections of the society and most importantly the children – on whom he has great faith that they will make the country the superpower he intends it to be.

(I have had the opportunity of watching him in close quarters years back because of my responsibility for the press. it was before he became the first citizen. he was the principal scientific adviser and donned himself the mantle of touring the country and meeting the children and talk with them. it is said if you have an agenda with children then you can easily get dr. Kalam to visit you. if it happened to be an academic institution, he would make it more easy.

The crowd was overflowing to see the man, who had already become an icon. He started talking in English and then when he wanted to quote Bharathiar, the Tamil poet he was all eloquence, and it flowed out of him so easily and it was form the heart. Earlier when he started the speech, one of the press corps friends of mine said, I think he is going to repeat what he did today morning (our event was slated for the evening) and he did start that way but he did make a real presentation. He had statistics with him he operates with a PowerPoint presentation. The more he wants to express the deeper the sincerity and warmth of expression. When he burst into pure classical Tamil, there was a round of applause to see him so easily recite the Kural and the Gita with elan, that everybody would be inspired to make something out of his/ her career.)

Not many would have tread a path Dr. Kalam chose, even with his career and they way he manages science and technology even today, I think it means a lot of hope for the scientific community at large. Watch him at SHAR and then watch him at a concert, this man is real god.

His presidency was something which gave every young Indian a dream to think about his country.

Now to the city visit.

The whole day he made it a point to be busy. We doubt if any political leader his age would really give appointments like Dr. Kalam does. Starting the day with an academic institution and ending the day with one of course he had time for one of his former classmates. How often do you think people in high places can make time for friends, and when you are a president? Lucky Mr. Sampath Kumar.

Everywhere people throng to meet him – have a glimpse of their idol.

“He has a soft corner for our city I suppose he has been regular” said one of the onlookers.

“It is just sheer inspiration watching him drives by.”

“I will tell my classmates that I saw the President.” of course who else a class 6 student.

Lot of reactions like this from the onlookers who are mostly students and youngsters in colleges.

He travelled almost 140 km inside our city limits that’s too much to ask of a nations’ president. I travel just 40 km in two instances of 20 each and I know how tough it is but only Dr. Kalam can make it, he is no ordinary man.

Our city limits can extend to maximum say 22 kms and talk of 140 km inside city limits.

He launches a Village resource centre under the auspices of the Amrita Deemed University, and a joint venture with ISRO of his yesteryears. He makes an impact with students out there and makes them pledge they will work and they will dream.

He even wanted them to repeat, when that wasn’t loud enough he asked if they all had their breakfast sending peals of laughter. (You need to laugh and it makes your day and others too) and no reading the paper business, though he comes prepared with one.

“For preparing the future generations for a knowledge based society, that lies ahead of them educational institutions should focus on capacity building, with a view to equip students with creativity and innovative skills, which would be relevant to the society.” he said.

Then he travels down to another far end of the city to inaugurate an international industrial exhibition. The best part is he knows what they are taking about be it engineering or technology. The man is full of ears to listen and to assimilate so that he can include in his vision.

He didn’t disappoint because he gave them a mission to accomplish:
• design and develop products for the world markets
• design is crucial for cost effectiveness
• focus on textile and healthcare
• be self reliant in critical technologies
• revive small scale industries
• buy component form local cottage industries

Then he is there back with student at another college. Interaction is the key and our president simply loves talking to students.

He meets up with an NGO Green Valley revolution and wishes them all the best when he is back at the circuit house for lunch.

He meets with the talk of the town NGO Siruthuli which has changed the ecological map of Coimbatore. It has also been a case study for corporate social responsibility.

He wanted this siruthuli to become a flood (Siruthuli in Tamil means a drop of water)

At 3.45 pm he hits the road this time at a hospital Ramakrishna Hospital. He dedicates the oncology institute to the nation with a resolve to network cancer hospitals across the country. Only this man can have a vision and mission so sacred.

4.45 pm he is at convocation at the centennial celebrating Tamil Nadu Agri University. His own playground i.e., convocation ceremonies, I mean.

The mantra for the second green revolution:

He outlined “soil to seed; seed to grain; grain to food and food to marketing” also stressing integrated development of agriculture.

Sure he is gone one up than Philip Kotler.

He crosses time barriers and then goes to another university. This one is named after his favourite poet Bharathiar.

Here he inaugurates the centre for Life sciences a joint venture by DRDO and the university.

All the while wherever he traveled the road is filled with the common man trying to have a glimpse of their people’ president.
Would you believe those people who hate waiting to see the politicians go by actually waited hours together in the night to have a glimpse of him? It happened when he went to see his friend. Though cordoned off they didn’t lose heart he perched on every inch of space to get a glimpse of their role model. Over 5000 people in a single colony road.

He didn’t disappoint either. He walked a few yards to greet everybody. Left to himself he would sign autograph. Maybe he would have thought let me join everybody, but he can’t since the protocols don’t allow him. still he does that quite often – breaking protocols, calls children and hugs them on stage and slows his car to wave his hands… and lot of other things to add.

Last news, he left the city at almost 10.00 pm. the schedule was at 7.25 pm

We love you Dr. Kalam. It has been a great day at Coimbatore.

We hope we will rise to your expectations and we are eager to see you around the next earliest opportunity.

We salute you Dr. Kalam. A son of the great land and a true citizen living a sainthood life.

One of a man kind, one in a billion, you are of course, our people’s President, who sets a precedent….

(PS: I wrote this on July 08, 2005 during his trip to Coimbatore. )