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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Which are the most popular halls in the Rashtrapati Bhavan?

               There are two halls of major importance in the Rashtrapati Bhavan - the Durbar Hall and the Ashoka Hall. At the end of the Durbar Hall, there is a statue of the Buddha that dates back to the 4th century.

               The magnificent Durbar Hall of Rashtrapati Bhavan bears testimony to the historic moment of the swearing-in ceremony of Independent India’s first government.

               The Durbar Hall is now used by the President of India to confer prestigious honours on recipients. Swearing-in ceremonies are also conducted at the Durbar Hall.

              The Ashoka Hall is the most meticulously beautified of all the halls. It was originally built as a state ballroom with wooden flooring.

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When was the construction of Rashtrapati Bhavan completed?

            It was in the British era that the construction of the Rashtrapati Bhavan took place.

            Hard work of thousands of labourers including masons, carpenters, artists, carvers, and cutters saw the completion of the Rashtrapati Bhavan in the year 1929. Originally built as the residence for the Viceroy of India, the building later became today’s Rashtrapati Bhavan.

            The construction of the Rashtrapati Bhavan, the then Viceroy’s House, was started in 1912, and completed in 1929. It took 17 years to be completed.

            The decision to build a residence in New Delhi for the British Viceroy was taken after it was decided during the Delhi Durbar in December 1911, that the capital of India should be relocated from Calcutta to Delhi. About 4,000 acres of land was acquired to begin the construction.

             The renowned architects, Edwin Lutyens and Herbert Baker designed the complex in a splendid manner, giving it an expansive 330 acres area and a prominent presence in the new capital. Lutyens’ design is grandly classical overall, with colours and details inspired by Indian architecture.

            On 26th January 1950, when Rajendra Prasad became the first President of India, and occupied this building, it was renamed as Rashtrapati Bhavan — the President’s House.

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Why is the Rashtrapati Bhavan significant?

               The Rashtrapati Bhavan located on the Western end of the Rajpath in New Delhi, is the official residence of the president of the world’s largest democracy- India. It is one of the most iconic monuments in India.

               It was originally built with the intent of serving as the British Viceroy’s House. With its 340 rooms in the main building covering 5 acres on an estate of 330 acres, it is one among the largest residences of a Head of State in the world, in terms of area.

               Rashtrapati Bhavan was the creation of two great architects, Sir Edwin Lutyens and Herbert Baker.

              Besides the President’s official residence, halls, guest rooms and offices, the Rashtrapati Bhavan also includes huge presidential garden called Mughal Gardens, large open spaces, residences of bodyguards and staff, stables, other offices and utilities within its perimeter walls.

               Every year, Mughal Gardens behind the Rashtrapati Bhavan is opened for public during a festival called Udyanotsav.

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Can a President be removed from his position while he is in the office?

               The Supreme Court can remove the President for electoral malpractices or for being not eligible to be a Lok Sabha member. The President may also be removed before the expiry of the term on the grounds of “Violation of Constitution”.

               The charges of impeachment can be initiated in either house of the parliament. For this, charges should be signed by 1/4th of the members of the house that has framed charges against the President. With an addition to this, a 14 days’ notice should be given to the President.

               The impeachment bill must be passed by at least 2/3rd majority of the total members of that house that has initiated the charges against the President. Once the impeachment bill is passed from the house that has initiated the charges, the bill is then sent to the other house which acts as the investigator of the charges initiated by the first house.

               The president has the right to appear during the investigation. If the other house also passes the bill with 2/3rd majority of votes, then the President stands removed from his office. No President has faced impeachment proceedings and so the above provisions have never been used.

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What are the kinds of emergencies announced by the president?

               The President can declare three types of emergencies: national state and financial.

               The President of India, after receiving a written communication of the decision of the Union Cabinet; may issue a proclamation of national emergency when the security of the nation, or any part thereof is threatened, or is likely to be threatened by war or foreign attack, or armed rebellion.

               Every such proclamation is required to be laid before each House of Parliament. Such an emergency was declared in India in 1962 (Indo-China war), 1971 (Indo-Pakistan war), and 1975 to 1977 (declared by Indira Gandhi). In such an emergency, fundamental rights of Indian citizens can be suspended.

               State emergency can be pro-claimed if the President of India is satisfied with the report of a Governor or otherwise, or on his own initiative that a situation has arisen in which that State Government cannot be carried on in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution.

               President can announce financial emergency too. Such an emergency must be approved by the Parliament. It has never been declared.

What are the military, financial and appointment powers bestowed on the President?

            The President is the Supreme Commander of the Indian Armed Forces. The President can declare war or conclude peace, under regulation by the Parliament. The President is empowered with the power to grant pardons in certain situations. Apart from this, the President also has emergency powers.

            The President appoints, as Prime Minister, the person most likely to command the support of the majority in the Lok Sabha. Usually the leader of the majority party or coalition. The Governors of States are also appointed by the President.

             The President of India also exercises financial powers. No money bill can be introduced in the Parliament without the recommendation of the President. The President also holds diplomatic powers. All international treaties are negotiated and concluded on behalf of the President.






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Which are the powers held by the President of India?

               In Indian Parliamentary practice, the President is the nominal executive, or a Constitutional ruler. He is the head of the nation, but does not govern the nation.

               However, the president of India holds various powers. The powers and the functions of the President of India may be classified under five heads, executive, legislative, financial, judicial and emergency.

               Legislative power is constitutionally vested by the Parliament of India of which the President is the head, to facilitate the law making process. The President has the power of to summon and prorogue both the Houses of Parliament. He can also dissolve the House of the People before the expiry of its term. Generally, the President addresses the Parliament after the general elections.

               The President of India is the head of the executive of the Union Government. The President appoints the Governors of the States, the Judges of the Supreme Court and High Courts of the States. The Prime Minister of India is appointed by the President, The President also appoints other Ministers in consultation with the Prime Minister.

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How do MPs and MLAs vote?

            Unlike the conventional ballot voting system, where the voter polls only for a single candidate of his choice, the presidential election follows the Single Transferable Vote system. According to this, each voter marks out his or her preference for the presidential candidate. If there are five candidates for example, the voter will give five preferences, making his or her most preferred candidate as the top choice, and accordingly for the rest of the candidates. It is mandatory to give a first preference, as the vote will be declared invalid in its absence. The voter can leave other preferences vacant.

            It is not just the most first preferences that decides the winner, but it’s the total number of valid votes that decides how many votes a candidate needs in order to be declared winner. This number is divided by two, and added to one to form the benchmark of winning. The total combined value of votes in the Presidential elections is 10, 98,903. It is divided as 5, 49,408 for MPs and 5, 49,495 for MLAs.










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How many votes do MPs and MLAs have in the presidential election?

               The value of votes of MPs and MLAs are done after crucial evaluation. The number of votes of MLAs is decided by the total population of the state, divided by the number of elected members to the legislative assembly, and further divided by 1000. Until 2026, the population will be considered based on the 1971 census.

               Basically, electors’ votes are worth more or less, depending upon the post they hold. In general, MPs’ votes are worth more than MLAs’, and MLAs from bigger states count more than those from smaller ones.

            In the case of an MP, the vote value is decided by dividing the total value of votes of all MLAs of the whole country, divided by the total number of elected MPs in the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha.

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How is the presidential election different from that of legislative elections?

               The major difference between Indian presidential election and the legislative elections is that the President cannot be elected by the people directly.

               The President is indirectly elected by an electoral college comprising of the elected members of both Houses of Parliament, elected members of the Legislative Assemblies of the states; including the national capital territory of Delhi and the Union Territory of Puducherry.

               To become the President of India, a candidate should have a valid nomination and he or she should meet set requirements. The conditions to be met are that the candidate should be a citizen of India, should be at least 35 years old; should be qualified for election as a member of the Lok Sabha, should be registered as an elector in any Parliamentary constituency in India, and should not hold any office of profit. Other than these requirements, it’s mandatory that the candidate’s nomination form be endorsed by at least 50 electors as proposers, and 50 electors as seconders. The candidate cannot be a member of either House of Parliament or of a House of the Legislature of any state, once he or she becomes the President.

               The elections for the President of India will be held in the Parliament House, New Delhi, and in all State Legislative Assembly Secretariats. The members cast their votes in a secret paper ballot. Once the vote quota is achieved by one candidate, the winner is announced. Tenure of President is five years.

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