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Abdul Kalam Proves Andy Rooney Prediction

by Sachi Sri Kantha, February 2, 2012

“A good letter is, in many ways, the exact opposite of a political speech. A politician addressing a crowd has to talk so broadly and generally about the issues in order not to offend any one of the thousands of people listening that he usually ends up saying nothing.”[And More by Andy Rooney, 1982, pp. 14-15]

India’s Missile Man Concerned about Diabetes Complications







A.P.J. Abdul Kalam

By consensus, octogenenarian Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen (A.P.J.) Abdul Kalam (born 1931) is a courteous gentleman. As a Tamil-speaking Muslim and not blessed with family wealth, by sheer perseverance he elevated himself to be a recognized

aerospace engineer in India and served as India’s 11th President from 2002 to 2007. For his status and age, I do respect him. But, when he opted to wear a political cloak and hat on his own discretion to play-act as a naïve dunce, he is fair game to criticism.

Last month, Abdul Kalam was a honored invitee of the racist Colombo regime. He delivered seven lectures in Colombo, Moratuwa and Jaffna within a span of three days (January 21 to January 23). The locations and titles of these lectures were as follows:

Address at National Eye Hospital: ‘Eye Care is a Noble mission’ [Jan. 21]

Address at the BMICH: ‘Ignited Minds of the Youth are the greatest resource for the Nation’ [Jan. 21]

Address and interaction at SARVODAYA, Colombo: ‘What can I give’ [Jan. 22]

Address at University of Moratuwa: ‘Unique You’ [Jan. 22]

Address to the Business Executives: ‘Economic development and creative leadership’

[Jan. 22]

Address at Jaffna University: ‘Puyalai thaandinaal Thenral’ [Spring after Storm], [Jan. 23]

Address at the Jaffna Hindu College: ‘Vazhvil Naan Paranthukondeyiruppaen’ [I will fly], [Jan. 23]

The last two, delivered in Jaffna, had titles in Tamil. The first title, I have loosely translated as ‘Spring after Storm’. The second title, was a short poem of Abdul Kalam, and he had translated it as ‘I will fly’. I would translate the same as ‘I will continue to fly in life’. In the last lecture, some segments were in English as well. The texts of these seven lectures have been posted in Abdul Kalam’s website ( One is not sure, how much honoraria Abdul Kalam received for these lectures from President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s regime.

There is no doubt that all the seven lectures were composed with a ‘political frame’ in mind. i.e. not to offend the sentiments of his host. After reading the texts of all these lectures, I was reminded of the beauty of humorist Andy Rooney’s (1919-2011) prediction.  Thirty years ago, in his collection of columns, Rooney included one on letter writing. Here it is:

“A good letter is, in many ways, the exact opposite of a political speech. A politician addressing a crowd has to talk so broadly and generally about the issues in order not to offend any one of the thousands of people listening that he usually ends up saying nothing.”[And More by Andy Rooney, 1982, pp. 14-15]

How true, Andy Rooney was! With the exception of the first lecture (which Abdul Kalam delivered to a specialist audience of ophthalmologists and care givers at the Eye Hospital), and the third one (delivered to a youth audience), the other five were insipid at best and banal at worst. Make no mistake -- I’m not criticizing Abdul Kalam, the charmer and mesmerizer. But the texts of the five messages (which I have read in full) that he delivered in Colombo, Moratuwa and Jaffna were insipid. That the texts pointedly ignored the ground realities, anyone with commonsense could have grasped.

Among the 7 lectures he delivered, only in the one that he delivered at the Jaffna University (in Tamil), did he mention Emperor Asoka’s conversion to the Buddhist faith, and as a result, the non-violence concept was born! What an oxymoronic comment! Abdul Kalam, whose moniker is ‘The missile man of India’ talks about non-violence to a student audience. This is akin to a butcher preaching vegetarianism. I presume that he got mixed up. If he had to talk about Emperor Asoka and non-violence in Buddhism, he should have stressed that in the five lectures he delivered in Colombo, in English. His posted lecture transcripts don’t indicate that he had talked about Emperor Asoka, non-violence and Buddhism in Colombo. And the predominant audience of his in Jaffna were Hindus and Christians, and not Buddhists! (If one excludes the wearers of army badges, boots and uniforms)

Now, let me raise a serious point. Abdul Kalam was the President of India from 2002 July 25 to 2007 July 24. When he took office, there was truce between the SL army and the LTTE. When he left office, Eelam War IV had begun between the SL army and the LTTE. While he held office, (1) did he preach Emperor Asoka’s nonviolence to the Buddhist commander in chief of the SL army? (2) did he fervently oppose the ruling Indian Congress Party’s tilt towards the SL government? And, (3) did he take adequate measures to stop the RAW operatives working violently against the LTTE? Only hypocrites preach what they couldn’t practice in their lives.

And Abdul Kalam failed to do his homework properly. In the lecture he delivered at the Moratuwa University, entitled ‘Unique You’, he introduced “ten unique personalities”. In fact, he mentioned eleven (if you count the Wright Brothers as one unit). Both Wilbur and Orville counted separately, there will be twelve. OK, I agree this is a quibble point. My beef is that he could mention only two Sri Lankans, if you include Arthur Clarke (a naturalized Brit). The other Sri Lankan, he introduced as follows:

“Do you know the Sri Lankan physicist, academician and economist who had worked on energy, sustainable development and climate change and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize along with Mr Al Gore in 2007? Of course he is the great Prof. Mohan Munasinghe.”

Mohan Munasinghe is nothing but a phony pretender who claims that he was awarded the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize, as he was the Vice Chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in Geneva. Whatever his merit, Prof. Munasinghe was not awarded the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize. The 2007 Nobel Award diploma clearly states that the award was for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Munasinghe’s name did not appear in it.

The press release about this prize is reproduced below:

Nobel Diploma


Copyright © The Nobel Foundation 2007
Artist: Britt Juul
Calligrapher: Inger Magnus
Photo reproduction: Thomas Widerberg

The Nobel Peace Prize for 2007

The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided that the Nobel Peace Prize for 2007 is to be shared, in two equal parts, between the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and Albert Arnold (Al) Gore Jr. for their efforts to build up and disseminate greater knowledge about man-made climate change, and to lay the foundations for the measures that are needed to counteract such change.

Indications of changes in the earth's future climate must be treated with the utmost seriousness, and with the precautionary principle uppermost in our minds. Extensive climate changes may alter and threaten the living conditions of much of mankind. They may induce large-scale migration and lead to greater competition for the earth's resources. Such changes will place particularly heavy burdens on the world's most vulnerable countries. There may be increased danger of violent conflicts and wars, within and between states.

Through the scientific reports it has issued over the past two decades, the IPCC has created an ever-broader informed consensus about the connection between human activities and global warming. Thousands of scientists and officials from over one hundred countries have collaborated to achieve greater certainty as to the scale of the warming. Whereas in the 1980s global warming seemed to be merely an interesting hypothesis, the 1990s produced firmer evidence in its support. In the last few years, the connections have become even clearer and the consequences still more apparent.

Al Gore has for a long time been one of the world's leading environmentalist politicians. He became aware at an early stage of the climatic challenges the world is facing. His strong commitment, reflected in political activity, lectures, films and books, has strengthened the struggle against climate change. He is probably the single individual who has done most to create greater worldwide understanding of the measures that need to be adopted.

By awarding the Nobel Peace Prize for 2007 to the IPCC and Al Gore, the Norwegian Nobel Committee is seeking to contribute to a sharper focus on the processes and decisions that appear to be necessary to protect the world’s future climate, and thereby to reduce the threat to the security of mankind. Action is necessary now, before climate change moves beyond man’s control.

Oslo, 12 October 2007”

You don’t see Prof. Mohan Munasinghe’s name mentioned even once in this press release! The then chair of the IPCC, Dr. Rajendra Pachauri (an Indian) represented the IPCC during the awards ceremony in December 2007.

If one has to choose leading Sri Lankan academics who had received international recognition, we would not choose a phony pretender, as Dr. Abdul Kalam has done. There were many (Swami Vipulananda, Prof. Christie J. Eliezer and Prof. M.U.S. Sultanbawa were a few) who qualify for such recognition and the Nobel prize is not a valid criterion for such an evaluation..