Abdul Kalam est le président de la république indienne depuis 2002.
Né en 1931, il est le fils d'un pêcheur au Tamil Nadu et parvient à entrer à l'Indian Institute of Technology de Madras où il obtient une diplôme d'ingénierie aerospatiale.
Bien que d'origine musulmane, il affirme lire la Bhagavat Gita tous les matins et est végétarien. Son election ne serait pas étrangère au massacre de plus de 2000 musulmans au Gujarat en mars 2002 selon le Hindu (quotidien d'informations) sur lequel cependant, il n'a fait aucun commentaire.
Il met au point les missiles AGNI et PRITHVI. Il est ainsi à l'origine du développement indien dans les hautes technologies aérospatiales.
En 1992 il est nommé conseiller scientifique du ministre de la défense. Il participe à la mise au point des essais nucléaires qui doteront l'Inde de l'arme atomique en 1998. Il est considéré à ce titre comme le père de la bombe atomique indienne.
Il est, par la suite, conseiller scientifique du gouvernement tout en enseignant à Madras.
Tout en voulant faire de l'Inde une puissance militaire, il signale cependant qu'il n'a pas d'intentions belliqueuses. Il réaffirme régulièrement son programme nucléaire en indiquant que "la dissuasion nucléaire des deux côtés (inde/pakistan) a aidé à éviter la guerre"
Certains craignent que son inexpérience politique ne soit un problème en cas de crise. Il faut savoir qu'en Inde (comme dans beaucoup de pays), le président n'a presque pas de pouvoirs mais est très écouté. Son prédécesseur, le premier "intouchable" président n'avait cessé de dénoncer les inégalités encore présentes en Inde.
Ses livres (surtout son autobiographie Wings of Fire) .sont en vente partout.
Voici une interview publié par le "Hindu" ( 25 septembre 2006)
What do you feel about the innumerable interactions you have had with students all over the country?
Well, I have met children and youth throughout the country from all walks of life. I have seen students in islands, north-eastern States and tribal areas. One thing I find uniformly among 150-170 million students of 17 years age is that they want to perform. Their enthusiasm is very high and they want to live in a competitive India. No one can beat the youth power of our country, which is the most powerful resource. But, it is understood very little in the mechanism of our political and bureaucratic system. So whenever I spoke in Parliament, I have brought to focus that youth power is a very important capital for the nation that will expedite its development. If they [the youth] dream, definitely it will get realised. The youth can think big.
Is the education system, as it exists today, equipped to generate the kind of talent the country requires?
First and foremost I am concerned about our primary education. We have to bring out the creative talents of children in this age group. The entire syllabus of primary education in the country has to be changed. I am already in touch with the political system and educational experts for a change. The reforms should reduce the load on conventional teaching and bring down the number of books. The school should be enjoyable for children and classrooms have to provide avenues to ventilate their creativity.
In recent months, the IT and ITES sectors have taken away the cream of students around the country. How will the manufacturing and other sectors manage?
We are generating 3 million graduates every year. The migration to IT industry is only 1-1.2 million. Even if the IT industry absorbs one more million, there are graduates for the manufacturing sector. The shortage is imaginary. Like in the IT, Pharmaceutical and Biotechnology industries, challenges have to be created in other areas also. Focus should be on the Small Scale Industry that makes an impact on the nation's economy. The whole IT industry is a result of youth power. Similarly, in the manufacturing, agriculture and other sectors, youth power is required.
When India opens its doors to foreign universities, can our institutions cope up with the competition?
I personally believe that competitiveness indeed leads to growth in every sector of economy. If foreign universities come here, it is a challenge to Indian universities. They must be competitive, go to universities in other countries and market their teaching capabilities. The day we compromise on competitiveness, India cannot be an economically developed nation.
You have addressed Parliament and several legislatures. What do you feel about the quality of debate in the Houses? Do you think live telecast of the proceedings can contribute to a more orderly conduct of the Houses?
No, I don't want to say much about it because everything is beamed (live telecast) directly now. But I have two things to say that will electrify political/Parliament activities and development missions. Politics has two components — political politics and developmental politics. The political politics concerns elections to the Assemblies and Parliament. Developmental politics is about the plan to develop the nation on different fronts. Elected representatives should focus 30 per cent on political politics and 70 per cent on developmental politics. The nation is bigger than political parties.
How should the security agencies equip themselves to face the new generation security challenges?
In my address to the nation on the eve of Independence Day this year, I have discussed in detail on this subject under the topic "National Awakening". The talk focuses on the type of components of national security in a developing nation. (The President said the text was available on the website "www.presidentofindia.nic.in")
You have ignited the minds of millions of youth with your `Vision 2020' concept. They are progressing towards achieving the goal. But will your leadership continue? Would you like to run another term in office?
Definitely no. I will not go for the Presidential election nomination again. I have decided to go back to teaching and research works. I will also be meeting the children and youth. I will continue to spread the concept of a developed nation. Wherever people are working for a developed nation, I will go work with them.
You are a President without any political background. Has that helped you in anyway while discharging your duties?
For any President, the Constitution says that "You should be beyond politics." I tried my best.
In the journey from Rameswaram to Rashtrapati Bhavan, what has been your most memorable moment?
I will say four things. When my team launched Satellite Launch Vehicle (SLV)-III in 1980, naturally it was a happy occasion. As the Project Director, I felt very happy for me and for my team. In 1989, when the Agni missile reached 2,000 km range (target to the required specification), it gave me higher happiness. Thirdly, we were all scientists from various departments under hot sun (52 degrees Celsius) on May 11, 1998, at Pokhran. On that day, India became a nuclear weapon state. It gave me multiple happiness. When the India 2020 vision document was prepared and I presented it to the Prime Minister in the Technology Forecasting Council that also gave me higher degree of happiness. Above all, in 1990, an Orthopaedic Surgeon, B.N. Prasad, at Nizams Institute Medical Sciences, Hyderabad, pointed out to me that a few polio-affected children struggle to move around with calipers that weighed 3 kg each. I worked with my team for 10 days to make a caliper that weighed just 300 gms. We fitted it to many children who started running. I happened to see a mother in tears. Her son, whom she was carrying to school, was running without any aid. That tear made me feel what is "anand", which is the highest degree of happiness. As far as Rashtrapathi Bhavan is concerned, I believe it is a "people's bhavan."
You have been flying in helicopters, travelling by road and attending a series of functions during the last three days and there are many more to go. What is the secret of your energy?
It is derived from making others happy. My motivation is to making people happy. It is this drive that keeps me going.