Staff Reporter

Delivers parts of speech in Hindi

Inaugurates state-of-the-art auditorium

NEW DELHI: President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam’s last interaction with his staff here on Saturday had all the ingredients of his signature style — some poetry, plenty of excitement, a little unpredictability and food for thought.

Bidding farewell to the “beautiful environment of gardens, peacock, birds and animals” on a wet afternoon, Mr. Kalam exited the Rashtrapati Bhavan making a last “green” contribution to its vast estate — a family garden.

“Iwas thinking what I can ask you at this time. Each one of you grown-ups and children can plant one tree in Rashtrapati Bhavan. These trees will be named after each one of you. The garden will be called a family garden. I am sure you will give full support to plant at least 10,000 saplings which will definitely improve the ecology of this place,” he said.

Speaking to a packed house — with Rashtrapati Bhavan staff and their whole family being invited to the event — for some it was the chance to grab their last look at the man who has been known for his informal style. And offering something new, Mr. Kalam delivered parts of his speech in Hindi and even read out his poem in Hindi.

Mr. Kalam travelled down memory lane to talk about the “events” that he and his team worked together on. “It [Rashtrapati Bhavan] has been transformed into a People’s Bhavan, thanks to your efforts. Nearly one million people every year from all walks of life and all age groups such as farmers, sarpanches, police personnel, postmen, writers, educators, political leaders, judicial personalities, homemakers, Indians living abroad, industrialists, teachers and students have enriched us with their presence. Invariably I have been getting a lot of appreciation after their visit which has been due to the care and individual contribution from each one of you, be it the warm and courteous reception, catering, conducting around facilities, maintenance of the number of gardens, photography and transport,” he said.

Listing the major milestones in his term, Mr. Kalam said: “I have seen how the visitors get excited by the Children’s Gallery, the exhibits in the Kitchen Museum, the display of paintings and sculptures in the Marble Hall, Herbal Garden, Spiritual Garden, Tactile Garden, Musical Fountain …The foreign dignitaries have been quite impressed by the horse display, smartness in the parade and the music by our band.”

Apart from creating a new piece of green in Rashtrapati Bhavan, the outgoing President also inaugurated a state-of-the-art auditorium here. Designed along the same lines as Lutyens’ building, the auditorium can seat 300 seats.

The auditorium was opened with the strains of A.R. Rahman’s Vande Mataram playing in the background.

Speaking to the media after inaugurating the auditorium, Mr. Kalam said that every President who comes to the Rashtrapati Bhavan has the “core competence” of a billion Indians. He said he would like every citizen to be instilled with self-confidence.