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Age couldn’t catch up with him, death had to sneak up and grab him from the workplace. Because this son of a boatman wouldn’t be caught resting, even after climbing the highest position a man can hold in our country.
Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam honoured every chair he held, and India honoured him with the best it could. Dr Kalam meditated, played the veena, taught children and adults, tended to plants and found enough time to write relentlessly to author some 20 books. He parted his hair in the middle, wore really simple clothes, but the child-like smile beat all the weapons he developed as a scientist. His demeanour could disarm the biggest enemies. He didn’t have many, anyway.
There are presidents and there are precedents. After the first three, the politicians adorned the chair. Kalam was an outsider, no-contest man. The tallest building on the Raisina Hill stood taller when this tall man was a resident.
When another tall leader Atal Bihari Vajpayee proposed his name as the President, there was little doubt he would win, even though his opponent was no less than Capt Lakshmi Sehgal. When he won, then Vajpayee’s Man Friday Pramod Mahajan asked him whether he would take oath at an auspicious time. Dr Kalam told him that as long as the solar system was in place, it’s auspicious all the time. He would have moved on to explain how the solar system worked, but Mahajan didn’t have time.
The passion to share knowledge was Dr Kalam’s hallmark. During his presidential visits abroad, he would be talking to reporters about various international issues, but in case the plane experienced turbulence, he couldn’t help explaining them what turbulence is.
He was a scientist first, the President and everything else later. Scientists dream to fly, explore beyond horizons. His parents saw that dream in his eyes, and his barely-managing-to-make-both-ends-meet family made sure he chased the dream. The physics graduate from University of Madras missed his chance to become a fighter pilot by a whisker. But his interests led him to Defence Research and Development Organisation, where he would later be known as the Missile Man. His work with the ISRO in the PSLV project helped India become a leader in space and satellite technology. Later, he would play a key role in India’s nuclear programme. In as late as 1998, he continued developing technology. His work with cardiologist Soma Raju resulted in an inexpensive coronary stent, now known as the Kalam-Raju stent.
He was a busy man after he left the Rashtrapati Bhavan, following his passion to teach. IIM, Shillong, was one of the places he lectured at regularly. On Monday morning, he was all smiles as he arrived. In the evening, a cardiac arrest ended his journey. A journey unmatched in its width and heights. India lost one of the greatest Indians in recent times.
Content Courtesy: Kamalesh Singh: http://www.dailyo.in/