A day before completing his five-year term, President APJ Abdul Kalam set a time frame and an agenda of action for the government and MPs: transform India into a developed country by 2020 with National Prosperity Index as a measure and acquire energy independence before 2030 so that a billion people smile together.
“At the dawn of 21st century, Parliament, like any other institution, faces greater challenges than ever before, specially on matters related to human development and governance…. We have to march in tune with the challenges of 21st century. National leadership has to radiate confidence in our people,’’ Kalam said in his farewell address to MPs at Parliament’s Central Hall.
At the hour-long function, Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee, presented the outgoing president with a scroll, signed by MPs of the two Houses, and a memento. The audience included Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, former PMs like A B Vajpayee and I K Gujral. Cabinet Ministers, Opposition leaders and MPs. At least six benches were empty. Kalam spoke of the gap between economic growth and developmental requirements. “While we are happy our economy is in ascent phase and our GDP is growing at nearly 9% per annum, it is evident economic growth is not fully reflected in the quality of life, particularly in rural areas and even in urban areas,’’ he said.
The impressive function began with the Speaker, Rajya Sabha deputy chairman M Rahman Khan, Manmohan Singh, Parliamentary Affairs Minister PR Dasmunsi and Secretary Generals of the two Houses Yogendra Narain and PDT Achary escorting Kalam inside Central Hall. The prime minister later hosted a dinner.