Sudheendra Kulkarni shares this heartening anecdote about the outgoing President APJ Abdul Kalam in his column in The Sunday Express:

Here is an example of how his deeds matched his words. Last year, some 60-odd relatives and friends of Dr Kalam from his native village in Tamil Nadu came to Delhi and stayed with him for about a week. Not a single car from Rashtrapati Bhavan’s large fleet was used for taking them around the city. The President paid from his own account for the buses hired for the purpose. He also paid for their rent and food, right up to the last cup of tea served to them. Among the guests was Dr Kalam’s own 90-year-old elder brother, APK Muthu Marakkayar, who stayed with him in the president’s private quarters.

When Dr Kalam insisted on making the payment for his brother’s stay, the astounded and emotion-choked staff of Rashtrapati Bhavan said, “Sir, please excuse us. We can’t accept payment for this from you.”

It is not very difficult to understand why the dear Dr Kalam didn’t get a second stint. After all integrity isn’t an asset in our democracy, sycophancy is.

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