APJ Abdul Kalam, the 11th President of free India, is revered across the political spectrum for his acumen, along with his unflinching pragmatism for India, moving forward – until his untimely passing on 27 July 2015, due to a cardiac arrest. His ideas made him the poster-boy for a country, developed, and free from the shackles of the past. His four decade-long tenures at the Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO), and the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), gave him credence amongst the nation’s brightest.
APJ Abdul Kalam pioneered the nuclear mission in India.
His claim to fame, some might argue, was the 1998 Pokhran-II nuclear missile tests – which helped reaffirm India’s capability, to stand shoulder to shoulder with the rest of the world. In the grand scale of things, however, he would be uncannily be known for his vision for India in 2020, encapsulated in the form of a book – aptly called ‘India 2020: A Vision For The New Millennium’. Going back to this highly recommended read, one cannot help but be hopelessly optimistic about India’s prospects for the future; at the same time, being bogged down by the reality ‘plaguing’ the world, as well as the country, in 2020 (and I’m not just referencing the pandemic).
APJ Abdul Kalam lists his ideals for India in the form of an elaborate manifesto. He covers fields such as Healthcare, Manufacturing, Agriculture, Technology, etc. while rounding out his views by asking the reader, if India could ever imagine herself being a developed country? – a question, he asks straight to the reader but seems rhetorically negative in hindsight. The India he envisioned has been brokered obsolete by the inner machinations of the system.
Mind you, it’s 2020 right now! His manifesto for a social upheaval keeps sounding more and more like science-fiction every passing year. Some of his predictions have been too close to the chest, such as –
The rural-urban divide, being reduced down to a thin line, at the same time has been totally eradicated (he himself, came from less than humble beginnings)
Meritocracy being honored despite social or economic standing (he worked himself up the ladder, coming from a poor minority background)
India becoming a hub for scientists, scholars, and the most talented (India he envisioned catered to bright minds like him)
Others like his vision for a fortified agricultural sector, where the field has been optimized and running at double its strength – seems like a slap to the face, when record numbers of farmers are committing suicide every year, exponentially!
APJ Abdul Kalam looks at these things, and more, through a lens of retrospective criticism – he acknowledges the strengths and weaknesses of the nation while giving directive remedies for each and every one of India’s malices.
Such statements, and more, paint India, primed for a position of power, on a global standing. It’s 2020 now, and President Kalam’s vision has been blindsided – not least of which has to do with the covid pandemic that we’re facing right now. Although, there is reason to believe that the powers that be, in hindsight, would paint the situation as such!
So, Mr. President, we have failed you! Your book should be relegated to the fiction section. 2020 has come, and will duly pass. Your vision has turned to dust, sadly! It’s just that the pandemic has diminished in a span of a few months, what you’ve been building towards, for the last 50 years.