A.P.J. Abdul Kalam became President of India in July 2002. He was a surprise choice. A scientist and not a politician, with an unusual hairstyle and an unassuming way of doing things, and no other agenda except that of seeing India become a developed and strong nation. How would such a man fit into the regal splendour of Rashtrapati Bhavan, and all the pomp and ceremony of a head of state? What followed, however, as P.M. Nair shows in The Kalam Eff ect, was a remarkable presidency that in the next five years transformed the way people looked at this office, and made Kalam popular in a way few politicians have been. Rashtrapati Bhavan became a much more accessible place, and his 'at homes' drew guests in the thousands. Not only that, the website he set up became a huge draw, and people wrote to him on e-mail or otherwise from across the country. His positive attitude infected all those who came in touch with him. While the reasons for his popularity will be analysed for a long time, Nair, who was his Secretary, suggests in this affectionate yet factual account some of the probable causes. One of these being that Kalam is just a very special human being.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR : P.M. Nair had a long and varied career in the IAS, which he joined in 1967. In July 2002 he was appointed Secretary to the President and continued in that position all through the five years of A.P.J. Abdul Kalams tenure at Rashtrapati Bhavan.