HE APJ Abdul Kalam’s speech today in Singapore

My dad just emailed me this link to His Excellency APJ Abdul Kalam, The President of India’s speech in Singapore today. My parents had been invited to attend his lecture on the topic: "Evolution of Enlightened Societies". Dad was all praises on the phone – it seems that Abdul Kalam was such a fascinating speaker that he not only held the audience spellbound for the full 90 minutes but received a long and standing ovation at the end of it. And, added Papa, the best I’ve ever heard speak – he’s met at least four of them, Dr Kalam being the 11th President of India since Independence.

Not covered in the transcript linked above is the story the President told at the beginning of his lecture. He said that as the President of India he had to travel up and down the country visiting towns and villages and he came across a village in the remote north eastern state of Arunachal Pradesh, where, surprisingly everybody was happy. So much so that that it struck the President as unusual and he decided to ask the Abbot of the local monastery ‘Why is your village so happy?’ – After some reluctance, the Abbot answered that if you removed the two words, ‘I’ and ‘Me’ from your speech, you remove the obstacle of the ego. When the ego is out of the way, hatred is removed, and when hatred goes, it brings peace, which in turn leads to prosperity and hence happiness.

And so at the end of his lecture, the ex High Commissioner of Singapore to India asked Dr Kalam how he meant to manage the troubles, the clashes common between the various religions and sects, a question important to nations like India and Singapore, both being multilingual, multireligious, multicultural and multiethnic, i.e. what did he foresee in the future? {I’m paraphrasing dad who must have paraphrased what he heard} And Dr Kalam answered that the answer lay in India’s democracy, as democracy gave everyone an opportunity to strive towards economic prosperity, and as prosperity increased, the clashes were minimized, in fact, the number of clashes were inversely proportional to a nation’s prosperity and that was his vision for the future. To maximise India’s prosperity which would in turn minimize her regional conflicts.

Nice, I’m going to read the transcript now – it looks interesting when I scanned it. I wanted to capture Papa’s infectious enthusiasm here before I forgot his words.

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