June 19, 2002
1247 IST


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Gujarat violence painful: Abdul Kalam

Presidential candidate A P J Abdul Kalam on Wednesday said the Gujarat violence was painful and should be prevented at all costs.

"What happened in Gujarat is very painful and we should prevent it at all costs," he told his first press conference after filing his nomination for the July 15 election on Tuesday.

"I can only say that we should try whether religion can graduate into spiritualism... managers can graduate into leaders and political leaders turn into political leaders with compassion ... and the education system works towards 100 per cent literacy," he said.

Kalam said he felt 'humbled' when he was nominated for the presidential election and described the top post as 'an integrated aspiration of the people'.

He said, "I will definitely contribute in the nation's vision of prosperity and security."

The noted missile technologist said his message to the youth of the country was 'transform the nation into a developed nation'.

He said this message came to his mind when he was asked by a young girl during his walk at the Asiad Village in Delhi on Wednesday morning.

He said that even after being elected as the President he would endeavour to use science as a tool for the development of the country.

Asked whether President Kalam would mean death of scientist Kalam, he said, "When I am elected as President, I will endeavour as to how technology can be used as one of the tools to develop the nation."

"Election as President does not mean sanyas from science," he said, after quoting from the Directive Principles of the Constitution in which Article 51 casts a duty on the State to develop scientific temper among people.

Reacting to the charge leveled by his Left party rival Colonel Laxmi Sehgal that his election as the President at this juncture would send a 'wrong signal', the missile man asserted that he had core competence in technology and the 'right signal is that technology is going to be used to develop the nation'.

Pointing out that he had worked as a scientist in different areas like putting satellite in orbits and developing nuclear technologies, Kalam said his main focus was how to transform India into a developed nation.

Kalam said his focus would be self-reliance in critical areas such as science, technology, commerce and industry and a 'mission mode management' for the development of the nation.

Citing an anecdote, Kalam said when he was asked by a young girl, whether he was a scientist, technologist, a Muslim or an Indian, his reply was: 'first and foremost you should be a good human being and then all these elements are inside you'.

Kalam said he wanted to be a good human being and then an Indian.

Justifying India's possession of nuclear weapons, he said, "For the last 3000 years India has been invaded, invaded and invaded... when guys were holding guns, you were holding swords."

"When India's neighbour was having nuclear weapons, the country could not afford to do tapas (fold hands and pray)," he added.

Brushing aside a question on the current situation along Indo-Pak border, Kalam said, "It is a very sensitive issue."

He said since the prime minister too had made a statement in this regard, 'we should not discuss this any further'.

Asked whether nuclear weapons had taken India and Pakistan to the brink of war, he said the last war took place in 1971 and it was because of the nuclear deterrent that the two countries had not gone to war.

To a question on how he would deal with a political crisis like the Ayodhya, Kalam said the future President has to take a view and deal with an issue after holding wide consultation. He said, "Any crisis when it happens, President has to analyse, come to a real and right conclusion as to what the people actually needed. The priority before the President as custodian of the Constitution is that he should analyse the situation taking the view of the government and the constitutional experts."

On his view about politics, he said he was in a learning process. "From last Sunday till today the whole process appeared to me like the launch campaign for a rocket system to put a satellite into orbit or a missile system to reach its target," Kalam said.

On politics, the presidential candidate, who has got the support from all major political parties except the Left, said that it is all about creating 'responsible leaders to empower people' with policies to take the nation to higher levels -- in the fields of economic, social and political development.

Asked how he hoped to be the saviour of the nation, when he has all along been dealing with weapons of mass destruction, Kalam said for 20 years, he had worked with the Indian Space Research Organisation, which makes remote sensing satellites and not weapons.

"Only in the last 10 years I was with missiles," Kalam said.

Asked about the reason behind the communal violence in Gujarat, he said there was a need for leaders with 'nobility and compassion'.

Kalam recalled how as a school leader on the night of August 15, 1947, he had gathered over 650 students to listen to Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru's address to the nation though he could not understand neither Hindi nor English, as he studied in a Tamil medium school. The next day newspapers showed photographs of Nehru unfurling the tricolour and Mahatma Gandhi walking the streets of Noakhali barefoot," he said, adding it was the latter photograph, which changed his life.

"My learning started there," he said.

To a question whether a stronger economy was more important than a strong defence system, he said national security and economy were related. "While no economy would be secure without a strong defence, strong security will not be possible without strong economy. Defence complexes may add to the economy."

Allaying apprehensions of any misuse of nuclear power, Kalam said, "Our nuclear doctrine has got certain principles, including no first use."

The 11th President of India: Complete Coverage

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