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BW Businessworld

Kalam's Charisma

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Leaders there are many, visionaries few, but icons are rarer still. And to be in the vicinity of an icon is a feeling that's quite hard to forget or describe. Proud I was to have A.P.J. Abdul Kalam at IIFT. The aura of his personality over one and all could be felt the moment he entered — all conversation stopped and everyone waited for him to start speaking.

Speaking on the need of consultants in India, Kalam created the sojourn for which he is loved, he provided a path for the idlers and waiters, motivating them towards greener pastures beyond the hillocks of hard work and penance. We were but lambs ready to be led, no unfurl of creative insight was so powerful in providing a peek into the current Indian economic scenario than was his ground-root analysis of India, its nature, its character and potential.

He explained that India by investing in what he calls Mind-Potential has reached where it is now, but it just has created value, not redeemed it. That value redemption can only arrive when India educates the masses to reflect their decisions in everyday work life, and that when people understand the relevant decision to be made in the light of their circumstances. The question he asked was simple, yet effective. "What would you do first if you start a business today? The first activity?" Answers were many, and they reflected the enormous amount of investment (capital and time) that is needed to become a true entrepreneur, and the basic reason for a consultant's success.

His pledge at the end was the jolt that India needs to become the superpower we wish to be. The pledge in itself is just a flurry of statements, connected together, they define a responsible citizen, a true patriot, a true human, with an elevated sense of belonging. India has been lucky to have had such a president, and IIFT has been lucky to have hosted him.

I am just dazed to have been in such exalted company. True, some instances change people, some people change instances, and some people become instances. Kalam, to my mind, belongs to the last category.

Debajyoti Bhattacharyya is first year student-MBA (IB) at Indian Institute Of Foreign Trade, Delhi.

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