NEW DELHI: Dinners at Raisina Hill are known to be political. But former President Dr A P J Abdul Kalam, a devoutly religious man, suggested a better idea to use the official money allocated for such events by helping the needy.
In his book The Kalam Effect: My Years with the President, Kalam’s secretary P M Nair recalls an incident when the then President asked him how much money is spent on Iftaar dinner. After checking with the Comptroller of Household, Nair informed that the cost would be close to Rs 2.5 lakh. Kalam then told him, “Why don’t we give this money to orphanages.”
Nair then organised a team, which went to 28 orphanages and distributed rice, flour, pulses, blankets and sweaters. Obviously, the children were pleased.
When Nair reported back to Kalam, there was another surprise from the President.
“He called me again. I was alone with him in the room. He looked around and said, ‘You have given all that material with government money. I want to give my own money for Iftaar. I am giving you a cheque for `1 lakh from my personal account. You use it the way you did with the government money, but don’t tell anyone that I gave this money,’” Nair wrote in his book. Nair further wrote in his book that he used the amount in the same judicious way, as he did with the public money