Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam - the people's president
- of India
died on July 27. Although I never had the privilege of meeting him personally
but always admired him. He was an extraordinary human being. He was a scientist,
aeronautical engineer and writer who became the 11th President of India,
serving from 2002-2007. And in spite of being a very spiritual Muslim, he
became the most beloved president in
the history of India
whose population is mostly Hindu.
During his decorated 40-year scientific career, Dr. Kalam pioneered India’s space, missile and nuclear programs,
earning him the nickname “Missile man of India”. Some of the posts he held
include director of India’s
first satellite launch vehicle, chief of the guided missile development program
and chief scientific adviser to the Prime Minister. He catalyzed India in ways
that no one was able to since the days of MK Gandhi.
in 1931 in Dhanushkodi, India, A.P.J. Abdul Kalam joined India's defense
department after graduating from the Madras Institute of Technology. He was a
central figure in the development of the country's nuclear capabilities,
and was hailed as a national hero after a series of successful tests in
his modest beginnings – his dad built and rented boats – Kalam was a bright
student who showed promise in science and mathematics. He attended St. Joseph's College,
and went on to earn a degree in aeronautical engineering from the Madras
Institute of Technology.
hope of becoming a fighter pilot was dashed when he narrowly missed out on a
spot with the Indian Air Force. Kalam instead joined the Defense Research and
Development Organization (DRDO) as a senior scientific assistant in 1958.
After moving to the newly formed Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) in
1969, he was named project director of the SLV-III, the first
satellite launch vehicle designed and produced on Indian soil.
to the DRDO as director in 1982, Kalam implemented the Integrated Guided
Missile Development Program. He then became the senior scientific adviser to India's defense
minister in 1992, a position he used to campaign for the development of nuclear
was a key figure in the May 1998 Pokhran-II tests, in which five nuclear
devices were detonated in the RajasthanDesert. Although the
tests resulted in condemnation and economic sanctions from other world
powers, Kalam was hailed as a national hero for his stanch defense of the
his career as a scientist, one of Dr. Kalam’s goals was to inspire and motivate
the youth of India
to get excited about science and knowledge. For instance, after his position as
chief scientific adviser ended in 1999, Dr. Kalam announced he would personally
meet at least 100,000 students in a two year period to help spread the word of
2002, India's ruling
National Democratic Alliance led by BJP helped Dr. Kalam win an election against
Lakshmi Sahgal and he become India's
11th president, a largely ceremonial post. The opposition Indian
National Congress too supported his Presidency. As a President, Kalam was
different and he worked hard to reach out to the youth of India and
inspire them.Known as the People's
President, Kalam set a goal of conducting 500,000 one-on-one meetings with
young people over the course of his five-year term. His immense popularity
led to him being nominated by MTV for a Youth Icon of the Year award in 2003 and
leaving office in 2007, Kalam became a visiting professor at several
universities. He formed the "What Can I Give Movement" in 2011 with
the goal of creating a compassionate society, and in 2012, his efforts to
improve healthcare led to the release of a tablet for medical personnel to use
in remote areas.
July 27, 2015, Kalam suffered a massive heart attack while lecturing at the
Indian Institute of Management and subsequently died at the age of 83.
Kalam was a deeply spiritual man and practiced what he preached, shunning material possessions
and rewards. The only material goods Kalam coveted were books,
owning over 2500 of them. His only other possessions were a watch, six shirts,
four pants, three suits and a pair of shoes. He did not own any property, a
fridge, TV, car or air conditioner. According to his former media
advisor, “He [Dr. Kalam] would never
accept a gift, save a book, and whenever somebody brought him a packed gift and
tried to pass it off as a book, he insisted on examining what was inside.
Anything other than the book was politely returned.”
Kalam was laid to rest on July 30 with full state honors in his native Tamil
Nadu. Over 350,000 people attended his funeral in his home town of Rameswaram.
honor of the scientist and former president, the southeast Indian
state government of Tamil Nadu created a "Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam
Award," which recognizes exceptional individuals who promote the sciences,
students and humanities. The government has also established Dr. Kalam's
birthday (October 15) as "Youth Renaissance Day." Discussion about
building a large-scale memorial at his burial site is underway.
- located off the coast of Odisha, which is one of India's key missile testing
facilities, will be named after President APJ Abdul Kalam. Odisha Chief
Minister Naveen Patnaik announced the move on Monday joining a league of state
governments who have taken to honor Dr Kalam, considered the father of India's missile
program and a widely loved public figure. Fondly remembered as the
'People's President', his death was mourned widely. The government of Delhi announced it would rename a key road at the heart of
the capital city after the former President last week while the Bihar government named an agriculture college after him.
his many accolades, including honorary doctorates from 40 universities, he was
granted the Padma Bhushan (1981), the Padma Vibhushan (1990) and the Bharat
Ratna (1997) — India's
highest civilian awards — for his contributions in modernizing government
defense technology. He also wrote several books, including
the autobiography Wings of Fire in
Here are some quotations
from him (you can find more by clickinghere):
Only the person who has the courage to lose
sight of the shore can discover new oceans.
Life is a very complex interplay of various
factors and there has to be acceptance of the risks inherent in coping with it
and yet keep moving on.
Determination is the power that sees us through all our
frustrations and obstacles. It helps in building our willpower which is the
very basis of success.
No matter what you achieve, you should never be completely
satisfied and should always be searching for ways to prove yourself.”
If you want to leave your
footprints On the sands of time Do not drag your feet. Dream, Dream, Dream, Dreams transform
into thoughts and thoughts result in action.
Never give up on your dreams no matter how old
you are, no matter where you are today. Do not give up dreaming for a better
There is no success without failure. Failures
are just intermittent blockades. Success is the final destination.
Do not wait for something big to happen, start
where you are with whatever you have.
To succeed in life and achieve results, you
must understand and must master three mighty forces - desire, belief and
Man needs his difficulties because they are
necessary to enjoy success.
You have to dream before your dreams can come
Great dreams of great dreamers are always
Let me define a leader. He must have vision
and passion and not be afraid of any problem. Instead, he should know how to
defeat it. Most importantly, he must work with integrity.
To succeed in your mission, you must have
single-minded devotion to your goal.
God, our Creator, has stored within our minds
and personalities, great potential strength and ability. Prayer helps us tap
and develop these powers.
Excellence is a continuous process and not an
One of the very important characteristics of a
student is to question. Let the students ask questions.
Failure will never overtake
me if my determination to succeed is strong enough.
Don’t take rest after
your first victory because if you fail in second, more lips are waiting to say
that your first victory was just luck.
All Birds find shelter
during a rain. But Eagle avoids rain by flying above the clouds.
Man needs difficulties in
life because they are necessary to enjoy the success.
If you want to shine like
a sun, first burn like a sun.
All of us do not have equal talent. But, all of us have an equal opportunity to
develop our talents.
Be more dedicated to making solid achievements than in running after swift but
Thinking should become
your capital asset, no matter whatever ups and downs you come across in your
Those who cannot work with their hearts
achieve but a hollow, half-hearted success that breeds bitterness all around.
Without your involvement
you can't succeed. With your involvement you can't fail.
My message, especially to young people is to
have courage to think differently, courage to invent, to travel the unexplored
path, courage to discover the impossible and to conquer the problems and
succeed. These are great qualities that they must work towards. This is my
message to the young people.
your hopes and dreams and goals are dashed, search among the wreckage, you may
find a golden opportunity hidden in the ruins.
best performances are accomplished when you are relaxed and free of doubt.
God trusts you with success, you have to prove yourself humble enough to handle
the big prize.
leader can only be free to lead his team if he keeps abreast of all that is
happening around him—in real time.
be a successful team leader, one has to stay back after the din and clutter of
a working day to emerge better-equipped and ready to face a new day.
Life is a difficult game. You can win it only by retaining your birthright to
be a person.
who knows others is learned, but the wise one is the one who knows himself. Learning
without wisdom is of no use.
If a country is to be corruption free and
become a nation of beautiful minds, I strongly feel there are three key
societal members who can make a difference.They
are the father, the mother and the teacher.
are boundaries that dictate life: you can only lift so much weight; you can
only learn so fast; you can only work so hard; you can only go so far!
“Learning uses creativity, creativity leads to
thinking, thinking provides knowledge and knowledge makes you great.
Righteousness are moral principles learnt in a spiritual environment from our
parents and teachers. When there is righteousness in the heart, there is beauty
in the character; when there is beauty in the character, there is harmony in
the home; when there is harmony in the home, there is order in the nation and when
there is order in the nation, there is peace in the world. Courage is to think
different, to discover impossible, to combat the problem and succeed and to
travel into an unexplored path.”~
Dr. A.P.J Abdul Kalam
How did Dr. Kalam sum up himself? He wrote, “My story—the story of the son of
Jainulabdeen, who lived for over a hundred years on Mosque Street in Rameswaram
island and died there; the story of a lad who sold newspapers to help his
brother; the story of a pupil reared by Sivasubramania Iyer and Iyadurai
Solomon; the story of a student taught by teachers like Pandalai; the story of
an engineer spotted by MGK Menon and groomed by the legendary Prof. Sarabhai;
the story of a scientist tested by failures and setbacks; the story of a leader
supported by a large team of brilliant and dedicated professionals. This story
will end with me, for I have no belongings in the worldly sense. I have
acquired nothing, built nothing, possess nothing—no family, sons, daughters.”[Wings of Fire]
I am sure his story will not end with his burial in a Muslim grave but would
continue to be told and retold because he was able to ignite the minds of so
many - tens of millions.
For more info on his life and teachings, clickhere.
Herebelow is an article by Shashi Tharoor on him., published
Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen (APJ) Abdul Kalam, India's 11th president, who
collapsed and died,
aged 83, on Monday evening while doing what he loved - addressing
students - was an extraordinary Indian.
in humble circumstances in a Muslim family in rural Tamil Nadu, a young boy who
sold newspapers as a boy to help his family make ends meet, rose to the highest
office in the land. And he did so not through the conventional route of a
political career but through the dint of hard work as a scientist in government
man", as he was dubbed in the popular press, Abdul Kalam was a rocket
scientist who rose to prominence as head of the country's successful civilian
space and missile defence programmes.
unlikely compromise candidate for president, he soon became the most popular
occupant of that exalted post, disregarding its customary ceremonial role to
reach out to ordinary people, particularly the young.
idiosyncratic power-point presentations of his vision for India's future with
instructional poems for children, lecturing on everything from solar energy to
the importance of broadband connectivity for India's villages, Abdul Kalam
"ignited minds", to use the title of one of his five bestselling
books (he published 17 in all).
also touched hearts, as the outpouring of national grief at his demise has once
again made clear.
extraordinary for other reasons too.
Muslim steeped in Hindu culture, he was to many an oddity - a scientist who
could recite classical Tamil poetry, who played the rudra-veena, a traditional
South Indian instrument, and listened to Carnatic devotional music every day,
but performed his namaz with no sense of incongruity.
melding the Islam into which he was born with a strong sense of the traditions
in which his civilization was anchored, Abdul Kalam was a complete Indian, an
embodiment of the eclecticism of India's heritage of diversity.
his long silver hair unfashionably combed back and his thick Tamilian accent,
he was an unlikely pop culture idol, but that was what he became.
popularity was undimmed by his relinquishment of office. In retirement he set
himself a demanding schedule of speeches, notably to educational institutions,
and had an uncanny ability to connect with a variety of audiences.
shared a number of stages with him and marvelled at his range of expertise -
space travel one day, corporate social responsibility the next, rural uplift
the day after: it seemed he had an idea a minute. Every pronouncement of his
was imbued with pride in the past and boundless faith in the limitless
possibilities of the future.
Kalam was also, unusually for an Indian who occupied the high positions he did,
a man of great simplicity.
his 25 years as a scientist based in Thiruvananthapuram, the constituency I now
represent in parliament, he endeared himself to ordinary people everywhere.
are the recollections of his waiting patiently for a bus, having breakfast at
his favourite teashop, talking to people from backgrounds as humble as that
which he had outgrown. In this simplicity lay the secret of his ability to
connect with people, across the boundaries of age, class, religion and region.
life and his work, APJ Abdul Kalam embodied the best of what India can be.
India has never had a more
beloved president. Active till the end, he left the world in mid-speech, as if
to remind us that he still had something more to say.
shock of his sudden passing has left a nation bereaved. India mourns
his death, but will long celebrate his life.