A.P.J. Abdul Kalam was a space scientist. He was a key driver of India’s space and missile programs. After he retired, Kalam tried to bridge the gap between rocket science and politics. A popular president (2002-2007), he accepted the proposal to run for a second term. He laid down one condition, however; the choice had to be unanimous. Some political parties didn’t agree. Politics (and politicians) did not win; the country lost. A popular president had to go after only one term.
In the U.S., the president has executive powers. In India, though every bill is sent to the president for his approval before its conversion into an act, he merely has a red-flag role. If parliament sends the same bill to him again, he has no recourse but to sign off on it.
Indians tend to see Kalam as a father figure, but not as one in authority. He was not just a father figure. An outsider in politics and free of political affiliations, he redefined and demystified Indian presidency. From India’s Missile Man, he became the People’s President.