...and the geek shall inherit the earth!

This is a blatantly hero-worshipping page about Dr A P J Abdul Kalam. You have been warned :-)

I just had the privilege of seeing this great man once again (second time in two weeks -- I must be going up in life!)

This must be the most un-presidential president that India, or indeed any country, has ever had! He came here to address a gathering of some kind (I am trying to keep any mention of my work life out of this blog, so let's just leave it at that!)

But hearing him speak is an experience that is quite unforgettable. He has a voice that can quickly become hypnotic, not much of an "old-age quaver", and a level of passion for what he is saying that I honestly think very few people in the world have. Of course, it does help that he is totally an open source proponent!

Actually, he probably is not upto the level of discussing the finer points of open source versus closed source. It is far more likely that issues like the MTCR are foremost in his mind when he talks of open source. [For those who don't know, the MTCR -- Missile Technology Control Regime affected India's space program quite badly and unexpectedly at one point in time. India had to essentially indigenise much important technology -- in a way, the MTCR helped India, even though it delayed many satellite launches.]

So when Dr Kalam talks about open source, he's talking about the freedoms that come with it, not that it's cheap or anything. He may not be a compuer geek, but he is a geek -- I doubt if any other geek anywhere in the world has ever occupied such a high position. But he has realised another advantage of open source, one which we in commercial IT do not often think of: open source cannot be simply taken away or denied tomorrow, just because the US doesn't like something India does.

Back to the hero-worshipping... We prepared a bunch of questions for him and had them pre-approved (as per protocol), and these questions were asked and duly answered. Then he says "now I take over" -- I am told this is typical of him -- "those were scheduled questions. Now I want some unscheduled questions" !!

A short while later, "no questions? OK I will ask you!". How many countries have a president that can actually do that?

Any event of this kind is hard work, and generates a lot of problems, mostly ego issues. But once this man got on the podium and started to speak, you tend to forget all of that in his magic.

On top of everything else, I am known in these parts as a rabid (too strong? maybe...) open source evangelist, and Dr Kalam's repeated emphasis on open source, Linux, etc., just made my day, my week, my month and my year!

God bless this man! I wish I could have spent some time with him, but I think I will wait until his presidential term is over before I try to meet him or speak to him. I'm hooked, and a few minutes from a distance of a hundred feet or so is not enough...

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