| President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam inaugurates the CII meet as governor Gopal Gandhi and chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee look on. Picture by Kishor Roy Chowdhury
Calcutta, Jan. 17: President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam’s Vision 2020 left everyone speechless. To be more precise, the other speakers had little to say after he made a powerpoint presentation for 45 minutes ' double the time allotted.
It is difficult to share thoughts on making India a developed country in 15 years in less than that time, so no one was complaining in the end.
“It was a wonderful presentation. CII would greatly benefit from it. We will try to follow what he said,” officials of the Confederation of Indian Industry, the organiser of the event, said.
The annual CII Partnership Summit here opened with the President’s address. Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee was present at the inaugural session, as was governor Gopal Gandhi, but both were happy to leave the stage to Kalam. After the President, Bhattacharjee spoke for barely five minutes, though it could not be confirmed if he had prepared for a longer stay behind the microphone.
It was confirmed, however, that the President had been expected to address the gathering of some 1,000 delegates, consisting of business leaders from India and abroad and several foreign dignitaries, for about 20 minutes.
Titled “Dynamics of Leadership”, Kalam’s talk focused on achieving a growth rate of 10 per cent if India were to acquire the status of a developed nation.
“Given his erudition, it (the presentation) is not surprising at all. He has a vision for the country and he shared it with industry captains at this appropriate forum,” CII officials said.
What business leaders made of the speech could not be ascertained, nor their reaction to the delay in the start of the programme as Kalam reached half an hour beyond time at the venue, a result of the late beginning to the day the President was forced to make because of fog.
“The President was supposed to leave Raj Bhavan for his flight to Sagar Islands at 8.30. Instead, he left a little over an hour later, at 9.45 am. The fog that had settled on the RCTC (turf club, where the helipad is) ground since the break of dawn stood in the way of pilots taking off for Sagar,” said a police officer in charge of VIP movement.
As a consequence, he got delayed for all the engagements in the city 'Calcutta University’s 150-year celebrations and the address at the Indian Association for Cultivation of Science.
The delay gave the police some anxious moments. Kalam was supposed to return from Sagar by 12 noon and instead landed at the helipad around 1.40, heading to Raj Bhavan from there.
“It was a very difficult time for us. The chief minister had just left (Writers’ Buildings) for his lunch at home and the President was returning to Raj Bhavan for his lunch (the two moving in opposite directions),” said a police officer.
Although late by some two hours to arrive at the university event, the President unfurled another vision ' this time for higher education ' before academics, former vice-chancellors and other dignitaries.
He proposed a project on tele-education, with Rashtrapati Bhavan as its hub and all major universities and their affiliates linked to it.
Communication technology occupied pride of place in Vision 2020, too, as the President spoke of bridging the digital divide between urban and rural India.
If technology was his obsession in his previous avatar as a technocrat, Kalam appears to be thriving as a communicator as President.
Evidence: today’s presentation.
The Confederation of Indian Industry will set up a centre of excellence on human resource and leadership in Calcutta, its chairman, Y.C. Deveshwar, said.
Speaking at the inaugural session, he disclosed that the state government had allotted land at Salt Lake. CII deputy director-general Subroto Niyogi said the centre would be ready in a year.
Three such centres already exist in Bangalore, Mumbai and Hyderabad. A fourth one is coming up in Delhi.