Thinking about The Missile Man of India today, it feels a bit weird. Nobody seems to be able to digest the fact that Dr Kalam left us a few hours ago. It’s like someone out of nowhere would appear and declare that all of it was just a part of another bad dream of another night. So, let us take a brief look at his inspirational life story.
Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam was born on 15 October 1931 to a Tamil Muslim family in Rameswaram in the state of Tamil Nadu. His father Jainulabudeen was a boat owner, and his mother Ashiamma, a housewife. He came from a poor background and started working at an early age to supplement his family’s income. After completing school, Kalam distributed newspapers to contribute to his father’s income. In his school years he had average grades but was described as a bright and hardworking student who had a strong desire to learn and spend hours on his studies, especially mathematics. After completing his education at the Ramanathapuram Schwartz Matriculation School, Kalam went on to attend Saint Joseph’s College, Tiruchirappalli, then affiliated with the University of Madras, from where he graduated in physics in 1954. Towards the end of the course, he was not enthusiastic about the subject and later regretted the four years he studied it. He moved to Madras in 1955 to study aerospace engineering in Madras Institute of Technology. While Kalam was working on a senior class project, the Dean was dissatisfied with his lack of progress and threatened to revoke his scholarship unless the project was finished within the next three days. Kalam met the deadline, impressing the Dean, who later said to him, “I was putting you under stress and asking you to meet a difficult deadline”. He narrowly missed achieving his dream of becoming a fighter pilot, as he stood ninth in qualifiers, and only eight positions were available in the IAF. Maybe fate had something else stored for this bright kid. Dr Kalam served India as a scientist for four decades at Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).
One day one of the scientists at DRDO went to his manager to seek permission to leave early that day as he had promised his kids to take them to see an exhibition. The manager granted him the permission. So, scientist went back to complete his work for the day. But once he started working, he was so much immersed into his work that time slipped out. He had disappointed his kids. He failed to keep his promise. He went home lamenting his unawareness regarding the time. But when he went home, he found only his wife, not his kids. His wife informed him that, “at 5:15, your manager came and took the kids for exhibition”. His manager had seen him totally engaged in his work. So he himself took the kids out so that the promise made by their father doesn’t go in vain. The manager was none other than Dr APJ Abdul Kalam. Such was the generosity of the 11th president of India. He always admired kids and loved to spend time with them.
APJ Abdul Kalam:”A Leader Should Know How to Manage Failure”
Kalam was elected President of India in 2002 with the support of both the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party and the opposition Indian National Congress. After serving a term of five years, he returned to his civilian life of education, writing and public service. He received several prestigious awards, including the Bharat Ratna, India’s highest civilian honour.
Once he was asked to give a definition of ‘Birthday’ and his answer was very intellectual. He said, “The only day in your life when your mom smiled while you were crying”. He strongly believed in doing continuous efforts without being afraid of failure. One of his quotes says, “Never rest after your first victory because if you fail in the second one, more lips are waiting to say that your first victory was just luck.” Finally, on 27th June 2015, while giving a lecture on ‘Livable Planet’ at IIM, Shillong, we lost him due to a massive cardiac arrest. No pieces of words stitched together into a paragraph are enough to justify his life. Team Admirable India strongly believes that ‘Kalam’ is not just a person; ‘Kalam’ is a way of living. It’s an intellectual thought process. Anyone who has got enough courage stored in him to stand up even when life hits him the hardest is practising ‘Kalam’. Liking and sharing dozens of such articles won’t be the right homage paid to that great and rare personality. Homage in true sense would be to walk on the path shown by Dr Kalam. So let us all start living life the ‘Kalam- way’ and make India a country of millions of Kalam-ians.
Post by: Falan Vachhrajani
His thoughts will remain with us in the form of his inspirational books.