Manmohan Singh vs Vajpayee!

Speaking at the India Today Conclave 2013, former president APJ Kalam said, Manmohan Singh is an expert in his field while Atal Behari Vajpayee took faster decisions

March 15, 2013 5:04 IST | India Infoline News Service
Former president APJ Kalam was put on a spot by an audience member who asked him to pick Kalam’s version of a leader from the current crop. Speaking at the India Today Conclave 2013, Kalam smoothly sidestepped the question by sharing his experiences of having worked with two prime ministers—Atal Behari Vajpayee and Manmohan Singh during his presidency. He had sufficient words of praise for both. While Manmohan Singh is an expert in his field, Atal Behari Vajpayee took faster decisions, he said.

On being asked to rate India as a democracy on a scale of 1-10, Kalam gave the country a five. When India Today Editor-in-chief, Aroon Purie, responded “That’s not good,” Kalam was quick to point out that it was at least a ‘pass mark’.

Following are the highlights of his speech:
  • The fundamental principles of democracy are here to stay with its aim for constant welfare and development of the citizens. Democracy, disciplined and enlightened is the finest thing,
  • Mahatma Gandhi said the nation needs a paradigm shift in thinking. India Today Conclave is the perfect platform for that.
  • The ideal democracy where all citizens have the right to dignity, freedom and aspirations. And leaders need to bring people out of the suffocation created by poverty, castism and corruption.
  • Delay of justice leads to frustration and the right approach would be to strengthen democracy by taking quick action. I forsee a people’s revolution if the cancer of corruption is not checked.
  • Three points essential for a roadmap to empower citizens:
  • Build a strong system of education
  • Convert religion into spirituality
  • Removal of poverty.
  • Citizens should respect and celebrate each other’s visions, cultures, aspirations and differences.
  • It is important to engage young minds with an inspiring vision for thinking and action. A young ignited mind is one of the most powerful resources on earth.
  • Every interface in the society, like the media and government, need to work together with a common vision to develop the country.
  • Politics can be divided into political politics and development politics. Ideally a leader should spend 30% of his time on the former. But instead, leaders today spend 30% on development and 70% of their time on politics and building vote banks.
  • A great leader should manage success and failure, tread a path that no one else had, should have the courage to take decisions and mobility of thought.
  • In a recent five Assembly elections people have shown a preference for leaders who bring in development. And those leaders and chief ministers who have brought in democracy with development politics have been re-elected.
  • The greatest quality of a leader, in any field, is that he should gives credit for success to his team and stands by failure at the same time.
  • The primary education sector needs to be reformed. Children need creative teachers, classrooms and syllabi – all of which are currently missing.
  • My favourite author is Tony Judt. We must understand what Professor Judt said in his latest book Ill Fares the Land: “If you don’t talk differently, we can’t think differently.”
  • Many a civilization disappeared in the world because of the absence of the Vision. It is time for India to have a creative leadership in every branch of our life to articulate the vision, to transform the vision into missions and capacity to make the vision into reality in agriculture, industry and service sectors.
  • Let us move on with the spirit of ‘I can do it, we can do it and the nation can do it.” This quality of leadership will certainly empower the billion people of India with sustainable development as its focus and evolving a Nation of Renaissance.
  • In recent elections, there are indications in our country that citizens prefer to re-elect multiple times such as those leaders or chief ministers who according to them bring in development results. So the message is democracy: with developmental politics, that is economic development agenda has to spring in the midst of our parliamentary democracy.
  • To become a successful leader one must know how to handle success and failure.

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