Friday, July 26, 2002, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi


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Kalam sworn in as President

Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam being sworn-in as the 11th president of India
Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam (right) being sworn in by Chief Justice of India B. N. Kirpal in the Central Hall of Parliament. — PTI photo 

New Delhi, July 25
Taking over as India’s 11th President at an impressive swearing-in ceremony in the Central Hall of Parliament, missile scientist Dr Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam today promised to “work for bringing about unity of minds among the divergent traditions of our country”.

From a humble beginning as a member of a boatman’s family from the temple town of Rameshwaram in Tamil Nadu, 71-year old Dr Kalam is now the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces and the First Citizen of the country.

Amid the booming of a 21-gun salute, Dr Kalam was administered the oath of office by Chief Justice of India B N. Kirpal, as he swore to defend and protect the country’s Constitution. Dr Kalam took oath in the name of God.

Calling for a national movement to transform India into a developed country with speed and making it militarily and economically self-reliant, the newly sworn in President emphasised his “unflinching commitment to the principle of secularism”, describing it as the “cornerstone” of the nationhood and “the key feature of our civilisational strength”.

Outlining a world view of his vision to make India strong, the new President pleaded for making national security a national priority and expressed his unflinching commitment to secularism.

In a 10-minute speech he made just after taking over from Mr K.R. Narayanan, he identified cross-border terrorism, certain internal conflicts and unemployment as challenges facing the country.

“Along with speedy development aimed at the elimination of poverty and unemployment, national security has to be recognised by every Indian as a national priority.

"Indeed making India strong and self-reliant — economically, socially and militarily — is our foremost duty to our motherland, to ourselves and to our future generations," he said in a speech punctuated by the thumping of desks by the distinguished gathering that included Vice-President Krishan Kant, Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, Leader of the Opposition Sonia Gandhi, Cabinet ministers and MPs.

Dr Kalam's scientist colleagues including Dr Kasturirangan and Dr R Chidambaram and eminent industrialists like the Ambani brothers and Infosys chief N.R. Narayana Murthy were also present.

The gathering also included 38 relatives and friends of Mr Kalam, whose 85-year-old brother A.P.J. Muthu Meeran Labbai Marakair, and Mr Venkatesa Sastrigal, a Hindu priest had come from Rameshwaram.

"To face these challenges, there must be a vision to ensure focused action of one billion citizens of this great country with varied capabilities," he said asking "What can be that vision?"

Replying to himself, the President said it could be none other than transforming India into a developed nation for which a "movement" was needed".

"This is the time to ignite the minds of the people for the movement. We will work for it. We cannot emerge as a developed nation if we do not learn to transact with speed," he said and recalled a couplet of Kabir: "What you want to do tomorrow do it today, and what you want to do today, do it now."

Immediately after the swearing-in, came the all-important seat-exchange ceremony, the symbolic change of guard at the Rashtrapati Bhavan from today. Outgoing President K.R. Narayanan and Dr Kalam exchanged seats and the new President of the country formally assumed office amidst the thumping of desks by the assembled parliamentarians.

Clad in a dark blue "bandhgala" that he was wearing for the first time, Dr Kalam acknowledged the greetings from the galaxy of people at the Central Hall by bowing to them.

The ceremony was telecast live.

Dr Kalam, who was escorted to the Central Hall by outgoing President Narayanan, was welcomed by Vice-President and Rajya Sabha Chairman Krishan Kant, and Lok Sabha Speaker Manohar Joshi.

Former President R Venkataraman and former Prime Ministers I.K. Gujral and H D Deve Gowda were among the dignitaries who attended the function.

About 100 children from a school in Tamil Nadu run by Dr Kalam, and 17-year-old girl Snehal Thakkar who "ignited" the missile man's mind were among the distinguished guests that the new President had invited for the ceremony.

Earlier, Home Secretary Kamal Pande read out the communication from the Election Commission about the new President's election.


Kalam leaves out Leader of Oppn
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 25
Newly sworn-in President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam today forgot to address Leader of the Opposition Sonia Gandhi in his maiden speech as the country’s 11th President.

In his brief yet thought-provoking address after he was administered oath of office by Chief Justice B.N. Kripal, Dr Kalam began by saying, “Respected Narayananji, Mr Vice-President, Mr Prime Minister, Chief Justice of India, Speaker of the Lok Sabha, Members of the Union Council of Ministers, Deputy Chairman of the Rajya Sabha, Deputy Speaker of the Lok Sabha, Members of Parliament, excellencies, friends and children”.

After addressing them, the new President went on to quote Thiagarajswamigal’s Keerthana in Sri Raga echoes from my heart — “Endaro Mahaanubhavalu andhariggi vandanmulu” — which means, “I salute all the great noble-hearted human beings.”

But the Leader of the Opposition was nowhere mentioned in his entire speech.


Kalam — a man of scientific vision
S. Satyanarayanan
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 25
A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, who was sworn in as the country’s 11th President today, is a man of vision who believes in using science as a tool for the development of the country.

For a man, who was instrumental in making India technologically strong and a missile superpower, it was a long journey from a tiny temple town of Rameshwaram on the southern tip of the country to Rashtrapati Bhavan.

The meteoric rise of the 71-year-old Kalam, who once sold newspapers as a student in the 1930s, revolved around his grit and resolve, ambition, struggle and good fortune.

Coming from a poor boatman’s family in Rameshwaram, Dr Kalam has come up the hard way in life.

His father Jainulabiddin Marakayar was a panchayat board president and owned a few boats which ferried pilgrims between Rameshwaram and Dhanuskhody.

Youngest in his family, Dr Kalam was the first to graduate; none of his brothers and sisters could even complete their schooling.

The boy from the mosque street in Ramanathapuram had humble beginnings, studying first in a small-town school in the 1930s and had his high school upbringing in the taluk headquarters. He graduated from St Joseph College in Trichy.

There was a time when his father could not afford his school fee and his sister had to sell her ornaments to send him for higher education.

The prodigy in Kalam came to the fore during his school days, but proliferated when he joined aeronautical engineering at the Madras Institute of Technology. His only stint abroad was a fourmonth visit to NASA in the USA.

He joined the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) in 1958 and five years later joined the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).

Dr Kalam shared a common trait with another Indian great, Homi Bhabha in management capabilities in area of frontier science by infusing team spirit in colleagues and building scientific technological cadre.

Dr Kalam was inducted by Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in the early 1980s to steer the country’s indigenous missile development programme.

Dr Kalam and his team in the DRDO delivered five missiles to the nation in the space of 14 years, including the strategic Agni ballistic missile.

He is a recipient of many awards, including the Bharat Ratna in 1997, the Padma Vibhushan in 1990 and the Padma Bhushan in 1984. Interestingly, Dr Kalam received the Bharat Ratna from K.R. Narayanan, whom he succeeded as President.

As many as 25 universities and academic institutions have conferred the degree of Doctor of Science on Kalam.Back


President’s quotes

* “Smile does not cost anything”, Dr Kalam to a journalist during his maiden press conference after being nominated for the presidential poll.

* “When I am elected President, I will endeavour as to how technology can be used as one of the tools to develop the nation”, Dr Kalam’s reply on whether President Kalam would mean the death of scientist Kalam.

* “Let me understand what is the political system. I have worked with six Prime Ministers in the past 10 years...After the election, the intensity of work with the political system will increase and I will learn,” Dr Kalam’s reaction on criticism that he lacked political experience required as President.

* “Very painful...We should prevent it at all costs,” Dr Kalam on the recent communal violence in Gujarat.

* “The President is the custodian of the Constitution. When a state gets into crisis, he must analyse and come to a conclusion what is right after consulting experts,” Dr Kalam on how he would deal with a constitutional crisis.Back

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