Kalam exhorts MPs to work for ‘national vision’


New Delhi : Outgoing President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam told government leaders and MPs in his farewell address to them that they should work together towards a "national vision" of unity and harmony and help in the creation of a "future leadership".

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It was Kalam's 11th and last address to a joint session of parliament before demitting office Wednesday.

"Working together in unity and harmony for a national vision is the greatest need of the hour for our parliamentarians," he reminded the MPs, who listened in rapt attention.

"You will agree with me that this is one of the most important missions of our parliament today," said Kalam, a Tamilian who began his speech in Hindi, pleasing many north Indian MPs.

"You have a major role to play in the creation of a future leadership for the 21st century – in creating missionary zeal among the youth of the nation to promote moral strength, security and prosperity for our people," he said.

Kalam said in his interaction with heads of state and delegations of various countries he had felt the "special respect" many of them had for India and Indians.

"I have witnessed this special aspect during my visit to 16 countries. As the President of India, I had the privilege to address various parliaments abroad including the European Union Parliament. I was happy to note the special respect for Indians during my interactions with many heads of states and delegations visiting India."

To show their respect and gratitude for Kalam, one of the most popular presidents in the country, parliamentarians presented him with a cylindrical golden box containing a scroll with their signatures as well as a beautifully worded farewell message on a silk roll.

"We solemnly pledge and reassure you that we shall focus all our endeavours towards realising your vision of transforming our country into a developed nation," the MPs promised in the message, which was read out and handed over to Kalam by Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee.

The MPs remembered the "courtesy and compassion" Kalam, a aero scientist-turned-president, has extended during his tenure.

At least 300 MPs and former MPs attended the farewell function. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Congress president Sonia Gandhi and former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee were also present.

Before leaving for the presidential palace, Kalam shared tea and snacks with the prime minister, Gandhi, Chatterjee and Leaders of Opposition L.K. Advani and Jaswant Singh in Parliament House.