Former President of India to Visit Harvard
This coming week, the South Asia Initiative at Harvard will sponsor a visit from Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, the eleventh president of India, in which the former head of state will speak about leadership, scientific advancement, and empowering the rural poor.
Kalam served as India’s leader between 2002 and 2007, and was popularly known as the “People’s President” and the “Missile Man” because he sought to support technological innovation in order to advance India’s weapons technology.
“The community is grateful that Dr. Kalam agreed to address us in his capacity as a leader of India with a scientific and modernist vision and as a motivator of today’s youth,” wrote Harvard Business School professor Tarun Khanna, the Director of the South Asia Initiative, in an emailed statement.
Khanna went on to say that under Kalam, India developed technical expertise in several areas, including engineering and health care treatments for the poor.
Kalam will address Harvard students in three separate talks during his time on campus.
On Tuesday, he will give the Harish C. Mahindra lecture, an annual speech sponsored by the South Asia Initiative in honor of the late Harish C. Mahindra ’46, who worked to shape India’s economic development as the founding chairman of Mahindra Ugine Steel Company.
In Kalam’s talk, entitled “Empowering Three Billion,” the former president will discuss his plans to empower the half of the world’s population currently living in rural areas, according to Amy K. Reese, the program outreach officer of SAI.
The following day, Kalam will give an additional two talks. The first will take place at the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and will focus on the role of energy technology and nuclear power in India’s development.
The second talk, later that evening, will take place at Harvard Law School and will center on youth leadership and engagement.
Reese wrote in an email that she is excited that students will be able to learn from Kalam’s insights about global development.
“SAI is hoping that students are inspired by Dr. Kalam’s ‘Vision for India 2020,’” Reese wrote, referring to the title of Kalam’s recent book, which focused on how India can become a developed nation by the year 2020.
“Known in India and globally for his passionate pursuit of education for all, this is a message that we are hoping resonates with Harvard’s students and community,” she wrote.