Abdul Kalam

Tuesday, August 27, 2002


In India we have freedom of speech. But we do not have freedom after speech! (Fear of life!) Hence no comments on this


DialogNow, a collaborative blog about India and Pakistan, has a
post on the recently returned poll ordinance.


Sunday, August 25, 2002


Round 1 goes to the Government - Govt. ignores his queries yet Dr.Kalam signs the ordinance


Saturday, August 24, 2002


The Cabinet sends the poll reforms ordinance back to the President, as it is. Now, he is constitutionally forced to sign it.

The story so far:


  • In 1951, The Representation of the People Act laid out who can stand for elections. It also says if you were convicted for this and that, you can't contest.
  • On May 2nd 2002, the Supreme Court said: "Candidates must reveal if they were arrested (and why), and the state of their finances." Logical, because you need this to figure out whether the candidate can contest or not.
  • On August 16th 2002, the Government discussed and approved an ordinance on poll reforms. They made it clear that even if a person is arrested twice for "heinous crimes", he/she could contest. It's only if the person is convicted that he/she cannot. And that financials would have to be fully disclosed. But, the ordinance went clearly against the SC order (and was intended to nullify it).
  • On August 16th 2002, the National Campaign for Electoral Reforms approached the President and laid out the conflict. The SC says, "thou shalt reveal your convictions and thy spouse/dependents' finances." The Ordinance says, "No matter what the SC or the EC or anyone says, thou need not reveal more than what this Ordinance says." Specifically, the some details on convictions and dependents' finances need not be revealed.
  • On August 23rd 2002, as we know, the President sent the Ordinance back, seeking clarification on the conflict. Now, this was probably only a clarification. But the Cabinet sat, discussed it as if the President returned the Ordinance, and sent it back in the same form.
  • Now, the President has to sign it. The Act will be passed.


Now, this is a tricky issue. The SC said something. The Lok Sabha said the opposite. Which view should prevail? And what should the President's role be in all this?

Friday, August 23, 2002


The Presidential menu at Rashtrapati Bhavan. Thanks, Navneet.


Dr. Kalam returns the poll reforms ordinance! Looks like Dr.Kalam is not likely to make things any easy for the Central Government


Wednesday, August 21, 2002


President Abdul Kalam seems to have garnered more visibility than any of the previous Presidents. He definitely is seeking to redefine the role of the President in Indian Polity. Whether he succeeds remains to be seen


Tuesday, August 20, 2002


Sathish found a hoarding for United India Insurance featuring the President.

Did it happen with the President's consent? If not, is it legal?


The President has asked 3 questions to the SC:

1. Can the Election Commission say "no elections" even if it means no Government for more than 6 months?
2. If yes, should President's rule be imposed in Gujarat?
3. Or should it just carry on the election as best as it can?

The Gujarat assembly was dissolved on 19 July. So a new assembly is needed before 19 Jan 2003. I guess that's enough time to figure out what to do, and have the elections.


I finally figured what the issue at Gujarat is. The EC says "Don't have elections in Gujarat. The place is in a mess." But Article 174 says, "You can't have no Government for more than 6 months." BJP says, "Hey, we want elections, because we'll win." But that's not good enough. So they say, "Article 143 says the President can stop everything and check the Supreme Court what they think, if he thinks necessary.

I don't know if the President thought it necessary. But he has agreed to check with the Supreme Court.

It is probably a safe decision. After all, the Supreme Court's decision is binding. But was it necessary? More importantly, whose decision was it, really?


Satyen Mohapatra writes about Y S Rajan, Dr. Kalam's friend, who accompanied him on his Gujarat visit.

What I find interesting in the article is that "Kalam’s Hindi is poor." That's interesting. I can relate to that, but I definitely did not expect it.


Sunday, August 18, 2002


The election commission ruled out early elections in Gujarat. The State is still in bad shape, and many voters aren't at home.

BJP was sure of winning, so didn't like the result. Now the matter will be referred to the President and the Supreme Court. The decision will be made on Wednesday. How independent will Dr. Kalam's decision be?


Saturday, August 17, 2002


PakNews doesn't like it that Musharraf "shamelessly greets the enemy" on Independence day. Pretty strong. I suppose the Pakistan press would be at least as biased against India as the Indian press is against Pakistan.


Friday, August 16, 2002


Atanu critique's Kalam's vision arguing that economic development should come before "freedom". Pradip rebuts.

My view is that Dr. Kalam talks about freedom in the sense of fundamental rights -- along the lines of Tagore and the American declaration of independence. That all men are created equal, free to pursue their "inalienable rights".

China traded this freedom for economic development. Somewhat like Sparta in 500BC. India has chosen democracy. Somewhat like Athens. In the war between Sparta and Athens, Sparta won. (In a few centuries, neither kingdom existed.)

But I'd rather live in a civilisation like Athens. Better culture. Greater equality. And less chance of a civil war.


Thursday, August 15, 2002


Nice to see the President drop the dress code.


"Excellency, on behalf of the government and people of Pakistan and my own behalf, I have pleasure to convey to you and the people of India our warm greetings on the occasion of Independence Day of the Republic of India." -- President Pervez Musharraf.

I don't know what's with this "Excellency" thing is about. Dr. Kalam addressed the President of Ghana the same way. Are all President's addressed this way? (Not the American President, though...)


Dr. Kalam is unlikely to be a ceremonial President. His visit to Gujarat and at broader level his talk on need for a Second Vision promises to cause sleepless nights for those in the Govt who expected Dr.Kalam to be staid. An active President also means that political dimensions would be attributed to each of his actions (& non actions)


Sunday, August 11, 2002


The President's first official visit will be to Gujarat. Sabarmati Ashram, earthquake, riots... the stated reasons are good. But the upcoming elections could be a reason too. After a fair bit of arguing between politicians, he's finally heading to Gujarat, while the State government's trying to make the best of it.


Incredible. The first visit the President makes, and it turns into a mud-pit of political agendas.


Thursday, August 08, 2002


Charan Lal Sahu, a Supreme Court advocate who filed nomination for Presidency, has questioned Dr. Kalam's nomination. Apparantly the nomination lacks his antecedents and age. If it were true, does that invalidate his Presidency? Probably not, given that he's been sworn in.


Wednesday, August 07, 2002


Dr. Kalam continues his early morning walks at around 4am. Only hitch is, so do 100 security personnel -- some of whom stay up all night.


Nine pilgrims were killed when a militant lobbed a grenade and opened fire on devotees en route Amarnath. As it was, people were dying of natural causes. On top of that, they try a bomb, and then this attack, just a day after George Fernandes visited Amarnath.

The President condemns the attach. So does Pakistan. But India blames Pakistan. India blames Lashkar-e-Toiba. But life goes on, albeit with a little less enthusiasm.


Monday, August 05, 2002


An interview (PDF) with Dr. Kalam in August 1990 on the management of technology development programmes, when he headed the DRDO missile programme.


Memoirs from Rajinder Taggar on an press conference with Dr. Kalam. Towards the end, he points out that he "... needs to improve his outer appearance to match his bright self inside."


Sunday, August 04, 2002


Thanjai Nalankilli asks whether Dr. Kalam was "pressured or even 'black-mailed' into studying Hindi?" Now, I must admit that, irrespective of the answer to that question, it's the most interesting one I've heard raised post Dr. Kalam's election.


Friday, August 02, 2002


Gosh, this mango business is getting crazy. Dawn (an English paper in Pakistan) talks about Pakistani mangoes being better.


Does India need Dr.Kalam as a president or Dr.Kalam as a scientist - Even time may not give the right answer


I found this discussion thread (seems an offshoot from abdulkalam.com, not sure how they're linked) asking for Dr. Kalam's e-mail ID. Well, there's the official one, presidentofindia@rb.nic.in. But I think the personal one he uses are apjabdulkalam@yahoo.com and apjabdulkalam@annauniv.edu.


Wonder what happened to the campaign for Narayana Murthy for President. I also wonder who would have made a better President. Narayana Murthy might have tried to run the country like a company. Except that the President is not the CEO, and India is not a politics-free company. Abdul Kalam has run a Government organisation. That experience may in fact count for more. Would it?


Thursday, August 01, 2002


President Musharraf has sent mangoes to President Kalam. (Paknews, The Hindu) OK, that's a good start, though they had to be routed via Dubai, because Pakistan's flights can't land in India. Hope Vajpayee and Kalam enjoyed them. (The Hindu)


A posting on soc.culture.usa on India's "missile man as President" has sparked off a debate.


Incidentally, most of the discussion I've seen so far focuses on Kalam being (1) a missile man, (2) a Muslim, and (3) a bachelor. What does our President need to do to change this image?


JK's review of Wings of Fire.


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