NEW DELHI: Former President A P J Abdul Kalam's frequent-flyer ways has led the government to consider putting in place norms that regulate the number of foreign trips former dignitaries can undertake with security-related expenses borne by the exchequer.
Since he left Rashtrapati Bhawan in 2007, Kalam has been on the move, lecturing abroad and often speaking on his books. In the past two years, he has gone on 20-25 foreign visits, averaging one trip a month. The government, which incurs a cost of about $1,000 on security for each day the former president spends abroad, is now looking to see if it can put a cap on such frequent visits.
The Prime Minister's Office, in consultation with the home ministry, is in the process of framing guidelines on the number of foreign trips former presidents and vice-presidents can make. An official said these may now be restricted to six visits a year.
Anyone making a foreign visit beyond the recommended limit will be asked to bear the cost of security, according to the new proposals.
Kalam, the author of "Wings of Fire", has great demand in the lecture circuit. He is particularly popular with students in schools and universities. The distinguished scientist has received honorary doctorates from 30 universities and institutions across the world.
His popularity also stems from the role he played in putting India on the map of nuclear weapon states. As head of the DRDO, he steered the development of indigenous missile systems, Agni and Prithvi.