A person of exemplary calibre and fierce patriotism, former President Dr. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam embodied the best of what an Indian can aspire to be. Let us look at one of his most memorable addresses titled, 'My vision for India'.

On May 25, 2011, Dr APJ Abdul Kalam gave one of his greatest speeches at the IIT Hyderabad campus, titled 'My vision for India.’ His simple and self-explanatory inaugural address for the IIT TechFest outlined his aspirations for his motherland and highlighted the need to increase meaningful public participation in nation-building activities.

A man of action

One of India's most celebrated scientists Dr. Kalam was an aeronautical engineer by training. His 1998 project The Technology Vision 2020' was an action plan that sought to achieve economic growth through technological development, with special emphasis on facilitating agriculture and increasing the accessibility and quality of healthcare and education. During his tenure as the 11th President of the country(from 2002 to 2007), India's 'missile man, as he was popularly called in the media, promoted the advancement of the national nuclear weapons program, and under his leadership. India developed strategic missiles like 'Agni and Prithvi' and tactical missiles like 'Aakash' and Thrissur’.

Even after the end of his official term Dr Kalam's passion for education and societal transformation came to the forefront in his addresses across various cross-sections of society from school children to policymakers.

His visions for India

"In 3,000 years of our history, people from all over the world have come and invaded us, captured our lands and conquered our minds... Yet, we have not conquered anyone. Because, we respect the freedom of others, and this is why my first vision is that of freedom. I believe that India got its first vision of this in 1857, when we started the war of Independence. It is this freedom that we must protect and nurture and build on." (an excerpt from My vision for India)

Dr Kalam sought the freedom that nurtured creativity and independent thinking. Freedom that instilled the courage to stand one's ground against all odds. He wanted India to be confident in its identity, and progress towards becoming a developed nation, self-reliant and self-assured.

"We have been a developing nation for fifty years... my second vision for India is development. (an excerpt from My vision for India) In his public addresses, he often asked his audiences to repeat the dictum "Dreams transform into thoughts and thoughts result into action". He really believed that the day we as citizens recognised our duties towards the development of our nation (dismissing all the personal biases) and joined forces to work towards identifying and meeting the needs of 'all' India will truly become developed.

"I have a third vision. India must stand up to the world. Because I believe... Only strength respects strength. We must be strong not only as a military power but also as an economic power. Both must go hand-in-hand." (an excerpt from My vision for India) He ends his speech by echoing J.F.Kennedy's words to his fellow Americans to relate to Indians... Ask what we can do for India and do what has to be done to make India what America and other western countries are today." (an excerpt from My vision for India)


  • Born in a humble household of Rameswaram, Tamil Nadu, Dr. Kalam distributed newspapers as a 10-year-old to supplement his family's income.
  • Dr. Kalam was the project director of the SLVIII, the first satellite launch vehicle that was both designed and produced in India.
  • Dr. Kalam was fondly called People's President because of his simplicity and love for his countrymen.
  • Dr. Kalam was the first Asian to be honoured with Hoover Medal. America's top engineering prize for outstanding contribution to public service on April 29, 2009
  • In 2012, Dr Kalam launched a campaign called What Can I Give Movement, to develop a "giving" attitude among the youth and to encourage them to contribute towards nation building by taking small but positive steps.

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Which President held office for the longest time?

William Henry Harrison spent the shortest time in office, while Franklin D. Roosevelt spent the longest. Roosevelt is the only American president to have served more than two terms.

Franklin D. Roosevelt was the longest serving president in US history, having served from 1933 to 1945. Mr. Roosevelt guided America through the Great Depression and into and through most of World War II. He established the Social Security Act and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Mr. Roosevelt decreased unemployment from 25% to 2% over his tenure and developed the Good Neighbor Policy with Latin America to respect their sovereignty more. Mr. Roosevelt relocated Japanese Americans to internment camps during World War Two which is now considered a source of shame and a failure on his part. Mr. Roosevelt appointed the first woman, Frances Perkins, to a position in the Cabinet as the Secretary of Labor.

Credit : Word Atlas 

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Why is it said that the role of the president’s bodyguard is twofold?

           The role of the President’s bodyguard is twofold – ceremonial and operational. The President’s Bodyguard (PBG) is an elite household cavalry regiment of the Indian Army. The PBG was raised by Governor Warren Hastings in 1773. It is the oldest surviving mounted cavalry and the senior most regiment of the Indian Army.

             The PBG today comprises four officers, 14 Junior Commissioned officers and 161 Bodyguards plus administrative staff. Equipped with armoured cars, its men are also trained for operational duties, both as tank men and airborne troops.

             The President’s Bodyguards are seen as an integral part of all State functions, or receptions by the President of India.

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Is Rashtrapati Niwas a Presidential retreat?

               The Rashtrapati Niwas, also known as Vice regal Lodge, was formerly the residence of the British Viceroy of India. It is the most historically significant and architecturally impressive building.

               After India got independence, the building came to be known as Rashtrapati Niwas and housed the presidential establishment. However, it was of little use to the President of India who visited the place only for a few days in a year. So, Dr. S. Radhakrishnan, the second President of India transferred the building to the Ministry of Education to be handed over to the Indian Institute of Advanced Study.

               The Himachal Pradesh High Court, the C.P.W.D., and the Himachal Pradesh University were allowed in due course to use some of its buildings.

              Mahatma Gandhi visited the Vice regal Lodge four times for negotiating Indian Independence.

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Which are the retreat residences of the President of India?

               There are two retreat residences for the Indian President, one in the north and the other in the south. Rashtrapati Nilayam, originally known as Residency House, is the official retreat of the President of India, in the south. It is located in Hyderabad, Telangana, where the President stays at least once a year and conducts official duties.

               The building belongs to the Nizam era. It is also used as a guest house for visiting dignitaries. It became the country house of the British Resident in 1870 and was used as the summer resort for the British Resident to Hyderabad state.

               One that is in the north is ‘The Retreat building’. This estate is in Chharabra, Shimla, in the state of Himachal Pradesh. It is located 13 km away from downtown Shimla.

               The President visits ‘The Retreat building’, at least once a year, and the core office shifts to that place during this time. About 304 metres higher than the Shimla Ridge Top, ‘The Retreat building’, is located in a picturesque surrounding.

               This building has an area of 987.37 square metres. The beautiful architecture is a major tourist attraction.

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