Kalam-Musharraf conversation- please forgive my deja-vu!

Filed Under (Abdul Kalam) by Rajesh Kumar on 25-04-2008

I was fairly amused to read excerpts from former President Kalam’s former secretary PM Nair’s book via this report, which gives a real description of the conversation between Kalam and Musharraf as it happened.

“Mr President, like India you also have a lot of rural areas,” Kalam said, and put a poser, “Don’t you think we should both do whatever is possible to develop them on priority?” As Musharraf said “Yes”, Kalam wasted no time to detail his “favourite” subject of Providing Urban Facilities in Rural Areas (PURA). It took 26 minutes to brief Musharraf on PURA.

The duration of this meeting was 30 mins.

That kind of reminded me of my own post, done about a year back, which was titled,“Humour:A conversation between Presidents Kalam and Musharraf which never happened”.


Musharraf: Mr. President, my entire country right upto every single child wants…. Kalam: Ah, children. In my last five years, I have met two lakh children every year and conveyed the value of science, human values and hard work. Infact, hard work can shape up your destiny. A girl from Meghalaya asked me recently…

So, now it is true, my post title is wrong – the conversation happened! Read my post here.

Real life Rendezvous with Dr Kalam

Filed Under (Abdul Kalam) by Rajesh Kumar on 22-01-2008

While I have written about Dr Kalam on this blog earlier, today I had the chance to see (and hear!) him from a close distance, when he visited Satyam. No matter how much you try, Dr Kalam’s simplicity and open personality is bound to touch you. While the interaction was short, I had few observations:
  1. For all his apparently soft spoken personality, Dr Kalam gives the impression of being a demanding task master. (He challenged the very existence of the word ‘impossible’ in professional language)
  2. Homework: He appears quite meticulous with the targeting of his speech and comes prepared with a very well researched speech, full of facts, figures and anecdotes.
  3. His website is updated several times a day, and few minutes after he finished his engagement at Satyam, the text of his speech was up on the site.
  4. Extremely sharp and witty: A journalist asked him whether he would buy Tata’s new car- Nano. Completely mindful that a yes or a no response would have the potential of getting twisted as endorsing or dismissing the car project, came the alert, artful, dodging and simple reply – I don’t have the money!

Abdul Kalam Tomorrow

Filed Under (Abdul Kalam) by Rajesh Kumar on 20-07-2007

President is set to retire in a week’s time. Rajdeep Sardesai post on the president at one of his last official engagements is all about the magnetism of this simple looking man. There are talks about him becoming involved with various academic initiatives. Anna University in Chennai is preparing for his return to the campus, and Nitish Kumar is planning to offer him the Visitor position of the revived Nalanda University. Whatever finally happens, it is clear that Kalam is not fading away. That’s reassuring. For me, this is double happiness, since I trace my roots to Nalanda area and live in Chennai. BTW, his future website is already being readied and will go live on 25 July 2007. The site seems to be hosted by NIC. Even Google seems to be saluting him, since, the site has no content yet, but seems to be enjoying PR of 4. Interestingly, there is less talk of India’s incoming president in blogosphere, more or the outgoing one.So much for hamara President.

Related Posts:A conversation between Presidents Kalam and Musharraf which never happened &
President Abdul Kalam- random reflections of a citizen.

Updated 26 July 3:00 PM: We notice that the site host has changed to VSNL . Those looking for Dr. Kalam’s email id may note that it is apj [at] abdulkalam.com according to this page on his site. And GApps fans, yes, Dr. Kalam’s email is on GApps(Google Apps for Your Domain) too.

Humour:A conversation between Presidents Kalam and Musharraf which never happened

Filed Under (Abdul Kalam, Motley) by Rajesh Kumar on 25-05-2007

(Indian President A.P.J Abdul Kalam invited President Musharraf of Pakistan to a meeting. For good measure he suggested the meeting be organized over video-conference. Since Aiwan-e-Sadr did not have VC facilities. Bush bailed him once again and Musharraf took a flight to DC to take the VC from the White House)

It was 6:30 PM IST, which was 9 AM EST.

Kalam: Good morning Your Excellency.

Musharraf: Good morning President (Musharraf forgot the time difference). Kashmir…..(cut short by Kalam)

Kalam: Yes, Kashmir. Few minutes back I was in the herbal garden of Rashtrapati Bhawan, where we have some of the herbs especially brought from Kashmir. The ancient science of Ayurveda, emphasized a lot on the importance of herbs in our life. They give you vitality(pauses and sips something, which he emphasizes is Kashmiri drink Kehwa, organically grown). Infact, you must take a pledge that you would only consume herbal products. I have a pledge for you(picks up a card next to him but is cut short by Musharraf)

Musharraf: Mr. President, my entire country right upto every single child wants….

Kalam: Ah, children. In my last five years, I have met two lakh children every year and conveyed the value of science, human values and hard work. Infact, hard work can shape up your destiny. A girl from Meghalaya asked me recently…

Musharraf: Your Excellency it would be better if we…

Kalam: Yes, agreed. Telemedicine is better. In my country, there are 250 districts and 4679 blocks and 8374529 villages. Not every village has a primary health centre. So, we have positioned telemedicine vans which travel the interiors and through remote telemetry via low orbit satellites connects the patients to the best of the specialists operating out of any part of the world. This way mankind can tremendously leverage science and….

Musharraf: Your Excellency, small request.

Kalam: I was coming to all things small. Infact, in the times to come, Nanotechnology would play such a vital role in what we do, even the ordinary cars would have lot of nanoscale parts. The applications of nanoscale are diverse. In my country, we have set up four advanced centers to research on nanoscale applications. Not just nanotechnology, but biotechnology….

Musharraf: For strategic reasons, I…

Kalam: Infact strategy, vision & core competence and have to be interlinked. I have visited all the states of India. Few days back, talking to students at an IIM I came across a physically challenged student who had topped the class. Can you tell me why he succeeded?(Pauses and resumes) He succeeded because he had a vision from his childhood, had a strategy to get there using his core competence, which was quantitative techniques. Infact, in India, we have been blessed with a lot of ancient time mathematicians such as Aryabhatta, and in modern times such as Ramanujam who under the guidance of …..

(Musharraf forgets his agenda and realizes the knowledge overflow. He starts seeing lot of value in what Kalam is speaking and asks his ADC, “Have you taken notes properly?”)
gets up from his seat and bids goodbye to . And adds, “No need for any notes. The entire conversation would be up on Rashtrapati Bhawan website in about 15 minutes. Infact, an MPEG file would be emailed to you in the next thirty minutes. Or would you prefer to have it on YouTube, Your Excellency?”

President Abdul Kalam- random reflections of a citizen

Filed Under (Abdul Kalam, Business Books) by Rajesh Kumar on 21-03-2007

Very few people can dream big. Even fewer can pursue those dreams to reality. A visionary, a technocrat and a project manager par-excellence rolled into one is Abdul Kalam for us.President A.P.J Abdul Kalam is one such distinguished person who has proved that dreams can be chased to reality by hard work. No wonder President Kalam is such a popular president. How popular, read on.

Few days before MS Subbulakshmi died, President Kalam visited her at her house in Chennai. It was evening post work hour and due to President Kalam’s visit, the Police had stopped traffic. I was heading home and found myself in a jam at Kottur bridge connecting Turnbulls road with Gandhi Mandam road. We were curious why the traffic is standstill and people including myself felt frustrated. Frustrated till the policeman on duty uttered the word ‘Kalam’. It was a different story that point onwards. People switched off the engines, locked their cars and stood on the road median, just to get a glimpse of President Kalam’s cavalcade, which was visible for few seconds as it approached MS house from IIT side and the closest it came to us was about a km away! The president possibly stayed there for five minutes or so, got back in the car and sped back. All we could see was the car lights. Nobody whined about this traffic delay that day. The only complaint was that we could not see Kalam.

I was reminded of this incident recently when I found a colleague of mine reading Indomitable Spirit by Dr Kalam. I ended up borrowing that book which I am reading currently. I was instantly tempted to read this book because I had the chance to read Wings of Fire(co-authored by Arun Tiwari) few years back.


What strikes most about Kalam’s writing is the simplicity with which he talks about his travails of life and the fact that he writes about his failures as much as his success. He is not afraid to talk about what gave him happiness and what made him sadness. And he does that in the most unassuming way. And unlike the politicans who talk about good of the country and never mean it, Kalam comes out as a thankful deviation. Wings of Fire was very inspiring read, and so is Indomitable Spirit which is bound touch you, because it is so easy to relate it to our own pursuits of life. See all his books here. If there is one complaint you would have about his writing is that he does not appear stiff-like-a-president but too humble and real.
Some strange things about Kalam. Like all things Kalam, the official website of the President of India has his personal impression too. The website has all his speeches, but more than that, it has a quiz for children in its Children Corner. Another unique thing about Kalam something that we all know but do not realize, that he is the President of World’s largest democracy and belongs to no particular party!
This is the email I received when I greeted Abdul Kalam on his birthday(In about four hours flat)
—– Forwarded message from presidentofindia@rb.nic.in —–
Date: Wed, 13 Oct 2004 15:00:14 +0530 (IST)
Subject: Re: Wish you a Thousand Years
To:Shashi Bala Prasad
Dear Shashi Bala Prasad and Mr. Rajesh Kumar,
Thanks for your greetings.
My best wishes to you and
your child.
Kalam
> Dear President Kalam . We take this opportunity to send you our greetings on your birthday. May > you live a thousand years so that generations of Indians can continue to draw inspiration from you.> May your vision for new India come true.We >feel very happy when our four year old daughter sees you on TV and recognizes you.> Best Wishes once again.
>Regards
> Mrs. Shashi Bala Prasad
> Rajesh Kumar
(I do not care if he keyed in the rely himself or his staff did so, the point is he has setup a mechanism that works!)
So whether you read business or anything else, do read Kalam’s books at your first chance. And if you have read them, please leave comments here for my benefit.We are blessed to be living in his times.

About Rajesh Kumar. Rajesh is based in Chennai, where he works for Defiance Technologies in Marketing. The views on this blog are his own. Rajesh Kumar