The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Kalam crash course for staff

New Delhi, Aug. 28: These are changing times at Raisina Hill. Tech-savvy President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam has directed all those working in Rashtrapati Bhavan to get computer-literate.

The Union information technology ministry has been asked to hold crash-courses for Rashtrapati Bhavan employees, still living in the typewriter era.

Kalam is keen to cut down paper work and wants his staff to be “online”.

The President has handed over the charge of the IT programme to P. Shiv Kumar, a researcher from Anna University, Chennai. Kumar’s assignment is to introduce large-scale changes in the manner in which Rashtrapati Bhavan has been functioning in the last 52 years.

Since taking over as President, Kalam has been flooded with letters, invitations, books and problems pertaining to philosophy, mathematics, science, technology and socio-economic and political issues.

He recently received a 25-page note on the “concept of existence”. The missile man decided to go through it and wrote a reply to the sender, explaining the scientific interpretation of the concept.

On an average, Kalam has been getting about 100 books a month. Authors and publishers either want the President to write his comments or release their books. And Kalam has not disappointed anyone. He has appointed his staff to short-list books for comments or release. All books are acknowledged as having been received by the President. Kalam has also made it a point to write back to children and schools.

Despite his tight schedule, the President answers as many as 70 letters a day, asking children to take up the task of building the nation. In almost all his letters and messages, the President harps on need to develop a scientific temper to make India strong.

Kalam’s mail also contains several poems and poetry books. The President is expected to go through them later. A boy from Bengal sent a book titled Sea Shell Songs, asking him to read it at leisure.

Rashtrapati Bhavan insiders said Kalam spends about three hours a day surfing the Internet. He replies to e-mails, checks Tamil newspapers and updates himself with new developments in the areas of his interest.

The President has received dozens of invites for international conferences on science and technology but he has not accepted any of them so far.

He has also been invited to visit various countries, but Kalam has made it clear that he will plan his itinerary only after consulting the ministry of external affairs.

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