Reinventing Democracy With Dr. Kalam


A look into the former president’s riveting speech

As the moderator at the India Today Conclave 2013 also said, in this world full of cynicism and frustration, Former President, Dr. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam brings an aura of optimism into our minds. Yesterday, after being introduced by Aroon Purie, (the Editor-in-chief of the India Today Group), Dr. Kalam gave an inspiring speech on the topic “Paradigm Shift in Thinking”.

He shared his ideas on reinventing democracy, stating that the fundamental principle of a democracy is there to stay forever which includes the continuous empowerment of citizens. He very aptly compared seeds of a banyan tree to the citizens of the nation. The idea was to make sure that the democracy may provide the citizens with the opportunity to perform,  grow and realize their own potential.

As he rightly pointed out, the citizens of an ideal democracy have the right to freedom, dignity and aspirations. And to empower these citizens, there is a requirement of a strong education system- especially in the primary schools, where there is an abundant of creative teachers, creative syllabi and creative classrooms.

Now this point makes a lot of sense since it’s only in our early years, that we get to show our creativity. And if we don’t give the school kids that opportunity, they’ll probably never be able to express their true skills. He made a brilliant argument about ignited youth minds being the most powerful resources of a country.

Being a man who has met almost fifteen million students in the last ten years, he feels pleased when the youth ask him questions, especially the difficult ones.

The young minds are impatient and turbulent, and only vision can satisfy them. But for that, we need visionary leaders. In China, he said before starting a political career, citizens go through year-long courses in politics. After they graduate, only then they can begin their political careers.


He even had quite interesting views on the issue of corruption in the government. With the frustration of delaying of justice, this impatience could cause a revolution. He made his point about strengthening the current democracy and taking advance action.

In a democracy, disciplined and enlightened is the finest thing in the world. Those qualities may be quite hard to find, but they’re certainly needed.

He rightly mentioned the idea that people should respect and celebrate each other’s cultures, visions aspirations and differences. After all, the country’s cultural heritage is one to be proud of.

A democracy works on people’s dreams and the current political system needs to be reinvented with responsibility. And with that in mind, Dr. Kalam laid out the components of a good leader.

A good leader should spend thirty per cent of his time on politics- elections and getting elected. And the rest seventy per cent should be spent on building vote banks and development of constituencies. As correctly pointed out, the people show preference to a leader who brings development. Although, these days that time ratio is spent in a much different way.

A leader should work and succeed with integrity, and in the current scenario, integrity is the one quality most political leaders need.  A leader ought to see problems and opportunities. He should have the courage to tread a road not taken; take his own decisions and have thought mobility. All these qualities would really make quite a role model for the current youth.

With an enthralling speech that went for half an hour (though ideas never made it seem that long), the best moment of his speech was when he said,“ The greatest quality of a leader, in any field, is that he gives credit for success to his team and stands by failure.”

With his bits of humour and his philosophies, even at the age of eighty one, Dr. Kalam works as hard as ever for the overall development of the nation and continues to inspire many youngsters; no wonder he’s got a cult following.

The people’s president, an icon and a man elected president for his personality (never an ornamental president); his innovative ideas continue to inspire us all.

Akhil Thakur

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