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Last Updated: Tuesday, 24 July 2007, 18:57 GMT 19:57 UK
India's president bids farewell
By Sanjoy Majumder
BBC News, Delhi

President Kalam
Mr Kalam believes his people have a golden future
India's outgoing President, Abdul Kalam, has urged Indians to help transform the country into a developed nation by the year 2020.

He said that he wanted the country to be one of the best places in the world to live and work in.

The president was speaking in a televised address to the nation, his last before leaving office.

On Wednesday, Pratibha Patil will be sworn in as the new president. She is the first woman to hold the position.

Speaking on state television, President Kalam delivered a simple message to Indians.

"Accelerate development, the aspirations of youth... and mobilise rural competence for competitiveness. Defeat problems and succeed," he said.

Non-politician

When he was picked as the country's president five years ago, the maverick scientist with stylised silver locks was a surprise choice.

A Muslim and a vegetarian teetotaller, he was the architect of India's missile programme and became a national hero when he oversaw the country's nuclear tests in 1998.

But he was not a politician - one reason perhaps why he became one of the country's best loved presidents.

During his term, he left his stamp on the largely ceremonial presidency in his own unique way.

He opened the doors of the majestic 340-room presidential palace to ordinary Indians, particularly children.

He was the first president to fly in a supersonic fighter jet and also dive into the sea in a nuclear submarine.

But above all, many Indians identified him as one of their own - a man with simple tastes who had dedicated his life to his country.

There is little doubt that he will be missed.


SEE ALSO
First female president for India
21 Jul 07 |  South Asia
Profile: Pratibha Patil
21 Jul 07 |  South Asia
India's muckraking presidential poll
13 Jul 07 |  South Asia
Woman named for Indian presidency
14 Jun 07 |  South Asia
Kalam voices inflation concerns
23 Feb 07 |  South Asia
Science 'can lift India's poor'
09 Feb 07 |  South Asia

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