Over a dinner conversation with friends the other day, I said, "I am sure the office of the President of India could play a role in judicial correction..." "For instance," I laboured on in gyan mode, "If you take the current president..umm." I forgot the the president's name. I looked at my companions for rescue. No luck, they forgot too. We scratched our heads for a few minutes, trying to correlate some activity that the President had undertaken hoping that would trigger the memory receptacle that contained the name. No luck.

Former president A P J Abdul Kalam arrived in California (from New York) around the 27 of September, a week or so after I passed through the East Coast myself. I didn't know he was there nor, I am sure, would I have been able to gate crash - Scanning the reports, I learnt that he spoke to several groups of people including at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. While not everyone appeared to agree with his thoughts at his various interactions (the number of joint households would be the best measure of Indian values), he clearly held the crowds to attention.

And he's not exactly canvassing for votes. He's been meeting entrepreneurs, academic and business leaders (Stanford President John Hennessey and Cisco Systems' chief John Chambers)and speaking about a World Space Vision for 2050 where a describes a planet heavily reliant on solar energy to power its needs. He also met with a large group of Indians who welcomed him like a sitting president, not a former one.

Talking Space & Progress

There are some interesting tidbits about why he never visited the US as president. You can find them here Though what struck me is that even after returning (for that matter, before going as well) he has an amazingly packed schedule. I can't think of too many politicians (at least in India) who have such hectic lifestyles, I mean of this nature..check out the schedule I picked up from his website.

5 October - Address to the Space Community Forum on the 50th Anniversary on the Space Travel at VSSC
4 October - Address to IIST students and Faculty at VSSC
4 October - Address and Interaction with the Students participating in the quiz programme - INDIA@60 at Thiruvananthapuram
3 October - Address and Interaction with Students at Indore
3 October - Address at the Raja Ramanna Centre for Advanced Technology, Indore
3 October - Address to the IIM Indore Students and Faculty On the 11th Foundation Day
29 September- Address at the Inauguration of the International Seminar on Shipbuilding Opportunities, Ahmedabad
28 Setember - Address at the Basavapuraskar Award function, Bangalore
28 September- Address to the Karnataka Small Scale Industries Association, Bangalore
28 September- Address and interaction with the Students of Christ College, Bangalore
28 September- Address and interaction with the Students of the International School, Bangalore
27 September- Address to the Students participating in the 58th International Astronautical Congress, Hyderabad
27 September -Address at the 58th International Astronautical Congress, Hyderabad
20 September -Address at the International Aerospace Conference Celebrating Fifty years of Space Technology At California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California
19 September -Interaction with the Members of Stanford Institute of Economic Policy Research
18 September -Visit at Cisco top talents on the theme "Technology for inclusive development" at Jordan Conference
18 September -Interaction with Round Table Members India Community Centre, San Francisco, USA
18 September -Address and Interaction with the IISc, IIT & TIE San Francisco, USA
18 September -Interactive session with 50 Cisco top talents on the theme "Technology for inclusive development" at Jordan Conference Room, Bldg 9, San Jose

Its possible most of these engagements were frozen much before he lost the race for another term at presidentship. But going by the response he generates everywhere, I really don't think anyone cares. Despite being all of 76 years, the father of India's missile program continues to be the perfect mascot for a young, resurgent India. And yes I did remember the current president's name finally. I wonder if you really want to know.


Anonymous said…
When she got elected, I commented to my husband that she will retire into comforts of Rastrapati Bhavan once hooplah ove her being a woman diminishes... till now she is proving it correct :)
if we were so particular that a woman gets elected we could have done better...margaret alva, renuka chaudhary, mohsina kidwai (congress loyalists too), kiran bedi..
Anonymous said…
He was a patriotic indian who served the nation instead of going abroad
You're right, even i was struggling while recollecting the name of our current President(lol).

But I really didnot understand all the hooplah and the gungho about first woman president of India.Me too is definitely in support of women empowerment, but not in this issue.Most of us like me haven't even heard of her name, forget about what she has done or her contributions towards the country.
But then i guess it hardly matters, coz most of the politicians, infact all of them are famous or known for all the wrong reasons.
Kavi said…
Dr.Kalam was an example setter. And people did not see him to have an agenda ! A political agenda that is.

And that set him apart. Truly his agenda is visionary. So was he ! Its a shame that visions die a political death in the backyard of powerplay
Yes, compare this

Describing Kalam as one of the noblest of human beings, Nair said: “He (Kalam) showed the highest sense of rectitude in office.” The author spoke about the occasion when 52 members of Kalam’s family arrived at Rashtrapati Bhawan and the former president paid for the rent of each of the rooms they occupied - and the last cup of tea they had.

“He spent Rs.352,000 from his own pocket,” Nair said.


Rashtrapati Bhavan has asked the state to provide Shekhawat with at least five officials - a senior protocol officer, a public relations officer, a personal security officer, a photographer and an attendant - during his stay, besides reserving appropriate accommodation for him at the Sahyadri guesthouse in Mumbai and the circuit house at Amravati.

In Sahyadri, it has been asked to reserve one suite for Shekhawat, with an STD telephone line and fax, and five more rooms with STD lines for his officials. The same arrangements have been asked for the Amravati circuit house and Ravi Bhavan, Nagpur. Other demands: a computer with internet and printer in the ADC's suite, one local photographer at all three places and three AC cars at Mumbai, Amravati and Nagpur.
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