Abdul Kalam, a true… something.

A bunch of people I know have shared this snippet of a speech APJ Abdul Kalam delivered to the European Parliament at Strasbourg, France in April 2007. Kalam is, for all purposes, India’s Francis Collins – a decent administrator and manager of massive projects, but completely inane in every other respect.

[fatuousness overload]
[\video]

The speech in question had something to do with enlightened citizens for World peace. The part of the speech that has people fawning all over this video is a quote from a Tamil poet, which the former President of India says (repeatedly) is from ‘in 3000 years back’. It’s ‘ago’! The stupid word you are looking for, Mr. President, is ‘ago’.

The earliest literature in Tamil – Sangam literature – dates from ‘around the 3rd century BCE to the 3rd century CE’ [Wikipedia]. That I quote from Wikipedia isn’t to say that Wikipedia is infallible, of course – here’s Britannica’s page, which says that Tamil literature proper dates earliest from around the 1st century CE – but it does tell me that Abdul Kalam is less concerned with facts than with attempts at profundity. Attempts like this:

Where there is righteousness in the heart, there is beauty in the character.
Where there is beauty in the character, there is harmony in the home.
When there is harmony in the home, there is order in the Nation.
When there is order in the Nation, there is peace in the World.
[\end stupid poetry]

Does that sound profound to you? Yoda-ish, perhaps? Compare that to this, from The Phantom Menace, (by when George Lucas had divested himself of all cranial matter): ‘Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering.’

[yoda]
[\yoda]

The problem with independent things, you see, is that any ordering of them seems to make sense: Fear leads to suffering, suffering leads to anger, anger leads to hate. And so forth.

And so it is with the profundity of Adbul Kalam: Can’t peace in the heart lead to peace in the World, which leads to order in every nation, which leads to harmony in every home? My point, then, is this: What the heck does any of this mean? If we all think beautiful, noble thoughts, the World will become all right? This was the President of India, for crying out loud. Should he not have an ounce of gravitas?

The worst part of it is that he seems to earnestly think that he’s being profound, and that people like listening to this fatuous drivel. Okay, he may not have been too far off on that last count.


I wasn’t going to bother with the senile old fellow and his (well-meaning) senility, but the paper I was reading about facultative ammonotely in certain hummingbirds is taking a bit longer to finish than I expected.


Edit (August 2016): If what I’ve said has angered you, has made you want to tell me to fuck off to hell, as it has several people who’ve commented below, see this.

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27 thoughts on “Abdul Kalam, a true… something.”

  1. Anything is poetry and is profound when it comes from a shaman. Sadly, the person in question was a president just because he happened to be a Muslim and BJP wanted to show its liberal face. It is really spiriting and sad how he made the most of it. He will make an interesting study on how politics works in India. People still fall for symbols.

    If your poetry is about abstract things, then alright. Let him write/quote poetry on corruption. There will be a thousand vultures to silence him down.

    Well, India is my country and all Indians are my bloody brothers and sisters.

  2. Croor, you have a problem dude. You listen to the whole speech the first thing you want the readers to notice is a grammatical mistake!

    We all know that you forcibly made english as your mother tongue and you are fanatical about making mistakes in it. I dont think english is his mother tongue. ya ya ya he is the president of india. unfortunately they make mistakes. its fine even if it is audience of EU! He did not make his name telling everyone that he is good at english.

  3. That’s what you took away from the 500 word post?

    That’s the only place I commented on his language. Not least because most of his audience at the EU parliament will be no better at English than him. His godawful English is the least of his problems.

    His ‘poetry’ on the other hand…

  4. Flabbergasted.. Or did I spell it right Mr Croor? 😛 I don want to comment on his English as Ravi above rightly said the needful. But I don’t understand how can one not respect a personality like APJ. He symbolizes grit, hope and hard work.
    Some one above said he became the President for trivial undeserving reasons. But tell me : in a country where the Prez is a rubber stamp and have historically been old congress men with a foot in the grave, how on earth was APJ worse off. As a president he inspired people, young men and kids. No prez before him was so unanimously popular and loved.
    One last word my brother, this is a world with very beautiful people and things around. Stop being cynical for once and appreciate them for what they are. 🙂

  5. Dear Virgin,

    I am sorry if I have shown any disrespect to the person. I was one of the young minds which got ignited due to APJ. I can’t say he is an authority on everything. And that he can dole out visions to everyone. But of course, they are ‘his’ visions for ‘our’ country. I only want to be on the other side. This would spice up things for the guys who are all standing in the line. I mean falling in the line.

    I am not sure if you can box me as a cynic. I am full of hope for this country and more so for me. Also, I didn’t use the words “trivial” and “undeserving” in my comment. I only gave a glimpse of the context in which he became the president. But presidents before have been highly educated and as good as him I think. Take K.R.Narayanan for example. I just wanted to point out that this guy is not the god. But, hey he had been a visionary for our Missile and Space program.

    Do you know the other visionaries of the space program? Try to get some of the names.

    Good luck.

  6. Trinath, too much respect! I don’t doubt that Kalam means well. I also pointed out that he is a man capable of handling massive projects of national importance.

    That he helped develop the missile program of India does not give him licence to also hurl platitudes at people, left, right and centre, from above and from below.

  7. what was that i totally disagreed with that comment that he was crying loudly…if he was crying then that day he would not have been appreciated…this thought is like disgusting for me and even for our country how could say all these words..

  8. Does he necessarily have to say some thing that sounds profound to you, Croor Singh? Did he say something bad?

  9. Mr. Singh, may I suggest that you read the text of the full speech? The point of his position as President of India was not act by himself but to inspire action among others. A leader’s task is to inspire and guide his followers into action. A general is supposed to lead the war but he does not do so by being at the frontlines. He does this by inspiring his troops and building a strategy to fight. To inspire the masses, a simple message is inadequate, one has to deliver a powerful speech. President Kalam was doing the same. His grammatical mistakes aside, his speech is deliberate in its ‘profundity’. That is part of the act of ‘inspiring’.

  10. He is a very respected man. You need to grow up, have a better parenting and way better IQ to understand those words.

  11. I am soo sorry for you dear author, you need help. Open your mind and heart a little bit. Its a beautiful world out there if you have the eyes to see

  12. Totally rubbish, the author and this article. I believe the author can go back to the tree where his relatives stay, the place where he belongs.

  13. I find the article total nonsense. This is the problem of perception. You want to see the thing on the wrong side.
    The line is true even if it is impractical. It is the small ways in which we can make world a better place at the individual level.

  14. Wow… Croor Singh, it’s amazing how stupid you are… Fortunately, not everyone is like you. Picking on english is so small-minded. And he was just quoting Sathya Sai Baba. I must say, it was indeed profound. It does not have to be complex to be profound and touching.

    All I can see in your chain of thought is crap all over the place. Bro, you should go hang yourself if all you hear from peace messages is inner anger in yourself. You are better off in resting peacefully forever.

  15. Always thought this particular quote re. “righteousness in the heart….peace in the world” came from Confucius some 2,500 years ago. Hate seeing it co-opted and claimed by others.

  16. The applauds for Late Abdul Kalam proves that you don’t have to be grammatically correct in order to be great.

  17. very few persons on this planet have criticized APJ ..may be croor singh was not brought up well ..some assholes are there everywhere ..FUCK U mate FUCK U ..ur parents need some parenting tips ..

  18. This guy is absolute idiot who knows only to pick mistakes why don’t you try n understand what he is trying to say U idiot.

  19. Mr. Singh Please consult Doctor on emergency pls as early ……don’t delay you having psychological problem…….
    With his grammar mistakes he(his team) made impossible to possible ……..He is our inspiration.
    Mr author fuck with your English

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