Delivering the second Dr A P J Abdul Kalam memorial lecture, organised by the India Islamic Cultural Centre here, Mr Naidu came out strongly against casteism, saying it was fast losing its relevance. In his inimitable, extempore style of coining rhythmic phrases, he took a dig at politicians for still sticking to factors like caste for garnering votes. 'I am no longer a politician and I do not belong to any political party. A politicians should be chosen on the basis his or her conduct, character, calibre, and capacity and not by caste,’’ he said amid applause from the select gathering. He asserted that there should not be discrimination on the basis of caste, gender, community, language and religion.
He exhorted the teenagers to learn as many languages as they can but first master their mother tongue be it Urdu, Hindi, Telugu, Tamil or Bengali. 'All languages are beautiful, all of them connect people,’’ he said. Mr Naidu who was elected Vice-President of India earlier this month admitted that he was finding it a little difficult to strictly adhere to protocol and reading written speeches. 'I am only deviating from the written text, I speak from my heart. I am not deviating from my righteous path and duty,' he quipped. Describing Dr Kalam as a 'human being extraordinaire' who came from a humble background and became one of the iconic and 'People’s President', Mr Naidu said that Dr Kalam’s vision was to see a transformed, fully developed India by 2020 where the urban-rural divide would be reduced to a thin line. 'It further envisioned a prosperous, healthy secure nation devoid of terrorism -- a peaceful and happy nation on a sustainable growth path and one of the best places to live in,' he said. He reminded that Dr Kalam had outlined an integrated action plan in five core areas – agriculture and food processing, education and healthcare, information and communication technology, infrastructure development and self-reliance in critical technologies.
The Vice-President said India has to tap and realise the full potential of unleashing the forces of growth and create wealth. 'We have to ask if factors like poverty, illiteracy, corruption, casteism, communalism, terrorism, religious fundamentalism, regional and economic disparities are holding India back,' he said. Mr Naidu appealed to all citizens to work collectively and individually rise above narrow, selfish mentality and pledge to work with missionary zeal to banish poverty, corruption, communalism, regionalism and any kind of ism that will pull the country backwards. He pointed out that corruption was posing a huge challenge to both the government and the society. 'This plague has to be completely eliminated,' he said.
Mr Naidu, who is also the Chairman of the Rajya Sabha, said the behavior of the people’s representatives should be exemplary and they should be role models for others. He said there cannot be any scope for obstructing the country’s development and there is only one mantra to move forward – discuss, debate, decide and not disrupt. President of the India Islamic Cultural Centre (IICC) Sirajuddin Qureshi said the Centre was working for amity and harmony among all religions and communities. (UNI)