Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Let us build a happy, prosperous and safe India - President A P J Abdul Kalam

Rashtrapati Bhawan

"I will go with two small suitcases," said an emotional President A P J Abdul Kalam on Thursday as he prepared to leave Rashtrapati Bhawan with a desire to see India as a developed nation by 2020.

In possibly his last public function as the head of the state, Kalam had an advice for the countrymen -- don't take gifts that come with a purpose and build families with character and good value system.

"On the 25th I will leave Rashtrapati Bhawan after having spent five glorious years there. What I have got are two small suitcases. I will go with two small suitcases," he said in his address at the India Islamic Cultural Centre here.

The statement that came on a day when polling was held to elect his successor, evoked a huge round of applause.

The President went on to add that besides the two suitcases, he had a big reserve of books that he would be taking with him.

"I will take the books with me. They are my own books," said Kalam, who plans to teach at Anna University, Tamil Nadu, after his tenure is over.

The 75-year-old Scientist-President, who turned philosophical and nostalgic in turns, recalled how his father had taught him not to accept any gifts.

"Yesterday, a well-known person gave me a gift of two pens. I had to return them with unhappiness," he said, also quoting from the ancient Hindu code of law Manusmriti that by accepting gifts the divine light in the person gets extinguished.

I am sharing this thought with all of you since no one should get carried away by any gift which comes with a purpose and through which one loses his personality greatly," he said.

Kalam, who said he visualised India as a developed nation by 2020, hoped it would become a country where economic development was coupled with moral values.

"There are many economically developed nations that are nor happy. Since we have a big value system and are blessed with a rich heritage, we can make our country a combination of economic development and moral values that are derived from our civilisation," he said.

"This is how we can build a happy, prosperous and safe India," Kalam said.

He said he visualised an India where the rural and urban divide has been reduced to a thin line, where there is equitable distribution and access to energy and water and where education with value system is not denied to any meritorious candidates because of societal or economic discrimination.

Underlining the importance of respecting all religions, he said he was influenced by all faiths as he grew up.

"Our country has had this advantage of integration of minds for thousands of years and we should continue to nurture this," Kalam said.

Anna University