Former President A P J Abdul Kalam on Friday gave ‘pass marks’ to the over six-decade old Indian democracy awarding it ‘five points on a scale of 10’, while observing that its fundamental principle to empower citizens will stay forever.
Kalam also appreciated the financial expertise of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, while applauding Atal Bihari Vajpayee for his fast decision making ability. The former President was addressing the 13th session of India Today Conclave in New Delhi and delivered a lecture on the topic of ‘Reinventing democracy: The youth experiment’.
In reply to a question on how would he rate the performance of Indian democracy on a scale of 10, he said, "When I see from 1947 to 2013, we have a Constitution as a dynamic step for taking the democracy on... Answering your question I put five out of 10."
When asked further that it does not indicate a very good performance, he said, "Well, pass mark."
In reply to another question where he was asked to name one political leader of his choice, Kalam said, "Manmohan Singhji an expert in the field of finance. No doubt to that he is an expert in the field. So, I value his judgement in economy and all, any suggestion to major issues and I have got that respect for him. Vajpayee takes fast decisions. These are two differences. I hope both are complimentary," he said.
Kalam recalled that he spent his tenure as President with both Singh and Vajpayee.
"I worked with two prime ministers as the President. I have worked with Vajpayeeji and Manmohan Singhji. 50 per cent with Vajpayeeji and 50 per cent with Manmohan Singh," he said.
In his speech, Kalam said the empowered minds of youths are the biggest powers for a nation and under a democracy they want a faster growth for the country.
"Nation is bigger than political system... Let's evolve into a society that respects and celebrates differences tolerant to other beliefs, culture & tastes. In a democracy, every citizen has the right live with dignity & aspire for distinction," he said.
The former President also said that every citizen has the right to live with dignity, "but the promise of rule of law made in the Constitution has not been kept. We need to bring people out of suffocation."
Noting that the people in the country are getting restless due to corruption, he suggested the need for advance action to deal with the issues.
"People are getting restless. If the cancer of corruption and frustration generated by delay of justice at affordable cost are not dealt soon, a revolution will start giving vent to the empowered human beings. Therefore, the right approach is to strengthen the democracy and take advance action," he said.
Stressing that the political leaders should spend more time for development oriented politicis, Kalam said, "Our political system needs reinvnting. In Parliament, I said a member of Parliament should spend 70 per cent time on development, not politics."
Kalam said Indian democracy has witnessed many challenges and the process will continue in the future also and it should be seen as opportunities for it to grow.
"The fundamental principle of democracy is there to stay forever which includes the continuous empowerment of citizens," he said. The former President noted that the ideal democracy is the one where citizens have right to dignity, freedom and aspirations.
Kalam suggested that the roadmap to empower citizens should include a strong system of education, convert religion into spirituality and remove poverty.
Sharing his idea for a good political leader, he said, "Leaders must bring people out of poverty, corruption. Ideally, a leader should spend 30 per cent of his time on politics. But they spend 30 per cent of their time on development and 70 per cent on politics and building vote banks."
He observed that in recent elections people have shown a preference for leaders who bring development.
"Leaders and CMs who have brought in democracy with development politics have been re-elected," he said. Describing his predecessors Vikram Sarabhai and Professor Satish Dhawan in Indian Space Reasearch Organisation as ideal leaders, he said, "The greatest quality of a leader, in any field, is that he gives credit for success to his team and stands by failure."
Replying to a question, Kalam stressed on the importance of reforming primary education sector. "Children need creative teachers, classrooms and syllabi -- all of which are currently missing," he said.