India's missile man and National Democratic Alliance candidate for the presidential election A P J Abdul Kalam made a low-profile visit to Puttaparthi in Andhra Pradesh over the weekend to meet godman Satya Sai Baba.
Kalam flew into Bangalore on Saturday afternoon without any fanfare and, in the evening, left by car for Puttaparthi for a private meeting with the godman.
According to sources in the Defence Research Development Organisation (DRDO), which took care of his stay, Kalam met the godman on Sunday morning before returning to Bangalore on his way to Delhi later in the evening.
Former director of the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) Dr Kota Harinarayana, who was till recently in charge of the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) project, is learnt to have accompanied Kalam to Puttaparthi.
Incidentally, after being nominated as the presidential poll nominee, Kalam has been to several pilgrimage centres like the Ajmer darga in Rajasthan, Kancheepuram in Tamil Nadu for meeting the shankaracharya, and Kanyakumari near his hometown Rameshwaram.
On Sunday afternoon before leaving for Delhi on the eve of the presidential election, Kalam spent some time with college students in Bangalore.
Answering a barrage of questions fielded by students at the Shri Bhagwan Mahavir Jain College, Kalam said in the event of becoming the President of India his main task would be to focus on the development of the country.
"We have about 300 million or one-third of the population living below the poverty line. Our national goal should be to banish poverty in the next 10-15 years," Kalam said.
"My only advice to you is to work hard for your betterment and the development of the country. You are the future of this great nation," Kalam said.
"The mind is the most powerful resource on the planet. It is the most active part of our life. We should always strive to think big. Great ideas lead to great inventions and quick development," Kalam said.
Asked who his role model was, Kalam recalled his school days and said his first role model was his third standard teacher K Subramaniam Iyer, who made him think big and advised him to have vision for the future.
"Later, I had the fortune of working with or under three other great teachers, who were also my mentors. The first one is Dr Vikram Sarabhai, He is the one who said India should make its own rocket system way back in 1969. He gave us a mission."
"My second guru was Prof Satish Dhawan, former chairman of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). He was a great thinker who guided us on how to fulfill a mission."
"My third teacher was Prof Brahm Prakash, former director of the Vikram Sarabhai Space Center at Thiruvananthapuram. He taught us management skills," he said.
He told the students that India was capable of meeting any kind of nuclear threat because of its self-reliance in the domain.
"We have the nuclear designs, we can develop and deliver nuclear weapons faster than other countries. We can meet any kind of threat, be it nuclear or conventional."
"More than anything else, our safety standards are very high. We can manage any situation. But as a policy, India has declared no-first-use of nuclear weapons, which means though we have the capability to strike, we will not as a matter of principle," Kalam stated.
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