President Kalam posted a note about his Harvard visit yesterday on his Facebook page. Since I started this blog only recently, I thought it will be a good idea to reflect on his visit.
For the past few years, and owing to the generosity of the Mahindra family, we have invited a public figure to deliver the Harish Mahindra honorary lecture at Harvard. The lecturer is typically someone seen to have contributed to the progress of India, writ large. It’s relatively recent. In 2010, we had Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao (she’s now India’s ambassador to the US), a lovely lady, who had spent some time at Harvard’s as a visiting scholar more than a decade ago, and so was also well known in our community.
In 2011, I invited, at the behest of my colleagues, President Abdul Kalam, who graciously accepted and spent a few days at Harvard. I was very pleased since I wanted to suggest that even in poor countries like India, there is a focus on science and technology, and some notable achievements, and that South Asia should not be seen purely through the poverty lens, as important as that is!
Also President Kalam has done such a fabulous job, with his public profile and writings, on motivating youth, that I thought it’s a message that would resonate well with a young University community. President Kalam, needless to say, did not disappoint. He gave some fabulous speeches, foremost among which, to my mind, were his Harish Mahindra lecture to a packed audience, and a separate talk delivered at Harvard Law School to a law-school centric community about responsibility towards and of youth, and another to a audience of scientists and engineers about the value of inspiration and the importance of science.
A few photographs of his visit, I’ll add more: