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A.P.J.Abdul Kalam: The Man & His Vision

A.P.J.Abdul Kalam: The Man & His Vision
By
Bijay Kant Dubey

The Vision
I climbed and climbed
Where is the peak, my Lord?
I ploughed and ploughed,
Where is the knowledge treasure, my Lord?
I sailed and sailed,
Where is the island of peace, my Lord?
Almighty, bless my nation
With vision and sweat resulting into happiness
                                                         A.P.J. Abdul Kalam

In the hierarchy and lineage of Rajendra Prasad, Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, Zakir Hussain, Verahagiri Venkata Giri, Mohammad Hidayatullah, Fakhruddin Ali Ahmad, Basappa Danappa Jatti, Neelam Sanjiva Reddy, Giani Zail Singh, Ramaswamy Venkataraman, Shankar Dayal Sharma,  Kocheril Raman Narayan, the name of A.P.J.Abdul Kalam is definitely one to be reckoned with, not for his presidentship, but as a man with a mission and vision refreshening the memories of Kabir, Rashkhan, Jayasi, Amir Khusru and Dara Shikoh, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan Gandhi and Humayun Kabir while on the other the contribution and legacy of the scientists like Vikram Sarabhai, Satish Dhawan, Brahma Prakash and so on. The 11th to adorn the chair, Kalam was not exactly the politician that we needed, thought about, but a scientist from his personality and stature, the missile man of India giving a boost up to Aryabhata, Agni, Prithvi, Rohini and so on. Though not slated to be the president from his heart, never burning with the ardent wish to join politics as the leaders nourish and nurture it to take the credit, his name cropped up suddenly, did the rounds and was chosen unanimously for the topmost job with the consent of those who proposed and those who gave a wider nod to it thinking about the pros and cons, never in resistance.  In his protégé we see not the politicians, but the scientists and engineers and other technicians who have really worked for the betterment of society and the welfare of the country rather than delivering speeches. Modern India is not the creation of the politicians and leaders who had nothing to do with the tools of technological advancement and scientific research and discovery, but of explorers, discoverers, mariners, seamen, cartographers, mappers. India is modern not for its history and politics, but for them who have made, linked with bridging the gaps, demolishing the hurdles and hindrances, discovering, exploring, researching silently. To take his name is to take the names of the navratnas, nine gems adorning the Gupta period, Amarsimha, Dhanvantri, Harisena, Kalidasa, Khapanaka, Sanku, Varahamihira, Vararuchi and Vetalbhatta; to take his name is to take the name of the great mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan who too was from Tamil Nadu; to see the forgotten khagolshastris of India. His mission was one of Aryabhata’s to materialize into reality, that of Brahmagupta and Varahamihira’s. Always a people’s president, he worked and talked in his own way, instilling hope into the young minds, souls and hearts. Science and engineering was in his mind and thinking, technology his brain. Single in his life, he lived and worked for science and its furtherance and wrote like Bertrand Russell and Stephen Hawking, J.B.S.Haldane and Sir James Jeans. The wit and intellect of Aldous Huxley was in him in addition to emotion and feeling which he discharged in his poetical anecdotes and expressions. To ignite the minds, dormant spirits and to fill with hope; to inspire to search and to add to was the job of the scientist. He executed the works practically, taking a mileage over politicians what C.V.Raman, Jagdish Chandra Bose, P.C.Roy, Meghnad Saha and others would have envisaged. A few of the poems which they have come from the pen of Abdul Kalam remind us of the poetical attempts of Abraham Lincoln. The test firing of the missiles, delving into the space and opening the avenues of the study of light and cosmology and its dimension had been the joys of his and he used to dwell upon. In office from 25 July 2002 – 25 July 2007, he led a very simple life turning himself as the People’s President dwelling in the People’s House.

My dear Soldiers
Oh! Defenders of borders
You are great sons of my land
When we are all asleep
You still hold on to your deed
Windy season or snowy days
Or scorching sun's sweltering rays
You are there guarding all the time awake
Treading the lonely expanses as yogis
Climbing the heights or striding the valleys
Defending the deserts or guarding the marshes
Surveillance in seas and by securing the air
Prime of your youth given to the nation!!
Wind chimes of my land vibrate your feat
We pray for you brave men!! 
May the Lord bless you all!!
A.P.J. Abdul Kalam

Born on 15 October 1931 to Jainulabudeen and Ashiamma and raised in Rameswaram, Tamil Nadu, A.P.J.Abdul Kalam did his schooling from, studied physics and aerospace engineering and worked in various capacities before acting as President of India. Had been in Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) and Indian Research Organization (ISRO). A scientist, especially an aeronautic one, he excelled in missile technology and sending of spaceships. Civilian space projects and programmes and military missile development had been the arena of his study and research and he worked in the development of ballistic missiles and launch vehicle technology. Even during the Pokhran-II nuclear tests in 1998, when Atal Bihari Vajpayee had been in power, Kalam was invited by Raja Ramanna to see Smiling Buddha.

A listing of the books written by him tells it the story itself, what it had been his vision and mission, the dream with which he wanted to transform the nation:

Developments in Fluid Mechanics and Space Technology by A P J Abdul Kalam and Roddam Narasimha; Indian Academy of Sciences, 1988,  India 2020: A Vision for the New Millennium by A P J Abdul Kalam, Y.S.Rajan; New York, 1998, Wings of Fire: An Autobiography by A P J Abdul Kalam, Arun Tiwari; Universities Press, 1999, Ignited Minds: Unleashing the Power Within India by A P J Abdul Kalam; Viking, 2002,  The Luminous Sparks by A P J Abdul Kalam; Punya Publishing Pvt Ltd., 2004, Mission India by A P J Abdul Kalam, Paintings by Manav Gupta; Penguin Books, 2005, Inspiring Thoughts by A P J Abdul Kalam; Rajpal & Sons, 2007, Indomitable Spirit by A P J Abdul Kalam; Rajpal and Sons Publishing,2012, Envisioning an Empowered Nation by A P J Abdul Kalam with A Sivathanu Pillai; Tata McGraw-Hill, New Delhi, You Are Born To Blossom: Take My Journey Beyond by A P J Abdul Kalam and Arun Tiwari; Ocean Books, 2011, Turning Points: A journey through challenges by A P J Abdul Kalam; Harper Collins India, 2012, My Journey:  Transforming Dreams into Actions by A P J Abdul Kalam; August 2013 by the Rupa Publication, A Manifesto for Change: A Sequel to India 2020 by A P J Abdul Kalam and V Ponraj; July 2014 by Harper Collins, Forge your Future: Candid, Forthright, Inspiring by A P J Abdul Kalam; by Rajpal and Sons, 29 October 2014, Reignited: Scientific Pathways to a Brighter Future by A P J Abdul Kalam and Srijan Pal Singh; by Penguin India, 14 May, Transcendence: My Spiritual Experiences with Pramukh Swamiji by A P J Abdul Kalam with Arun Tiwari; HarperCollins Publishers, June 2015, Advantage India: From Challenge to Opportunity by A P J Abdul Kalam and Srijan Pal Singh; HarperCollins Publishers,15 Oct 2015

In his Preface to Envisioning an Empowered Nation, he writes:

“During the last four years, I have visited almost all parts of India and interacted with people from all walks of life- students, youths, farmers, scientists, engineers, technicians, doctors, medical staff, educationists, industrialists, armed forces personnel, spiritual leaders, political leaders, administrators, economists, artists, sports persons, physically and mentally challenged and the rural populace. What have I learnt from these interactions across the different cross-sections of Indian population?

School children and youth also interacted with me through my website. They gave many suggestions on making India a developed nation and their role in achieving this mission. I would like to highlight a few of the suggestions, among the many, which I received from children and youth.”

Let us take a quote from which really teaches a lot, broadening the horizon of mental state, asking to think and create and to add to:

“Learning gives creativity
Creativity leads to thinking
Thinking provides knowledge
Knowledge makes you great.”

The other quotes too can be cited as the kernels of thought and idea:

“The President's post should not be politicised. Once a president is elected, he is above politics.

 India has to be transformed into a developed nation, a prosperous nation and a healthy nation, with a value system.

Poetry comes from the highest happiness or the deepest sorrow.
A teacher should have a creative mind.

You have to dream before your dreams can come true.

To succeed in your mission, you must have single-minded devotion to your goal.

Look at the sky. We are not alone. The whole universe is friendly to us and conspires only to give the best to those who dream and work.

Great dreams of great dreamers are always transcended.

To succeed in your mission, you must have single-minded devotion to your goal.”

The Manipuri-hut was installed during his tenure and he used to sit there in the mornings and the evenings and two of his books were written on its sofas which many fondly called it Kalam’s “thinking hut”.

Though he is no more, we still remember him, this Tamil President, so simple and humble, so righteous and noble, really turning the President’s House into the People’s House. The man is not here, but his thinking hut, rudraveena, love of books and talks with flowers still conjure up the images, pictures of this 
former president of India.

When they talked of giving a second term to him on the corridors of power and politics and it started doing the rounds detrimentally, Kalam said, “Enough is enough”, opting out of race to seek it again. His tenure ended on 24 July 2007.

Kalam told medipersons, “In five years’ time in Rashtrapati Bhavan, we have all worked for transforming it into a people’s bhavan. Rashtrapati Bhavan has become a people’s  bhavan today. I believe it should be an example for the nation. It should not get degenerated. That is why I said enough is enough.”
(The Telegraph, Calcutta, Sunday, 24 June, 2007, p.6)

“It is not a political process when we elect a President. I do not want to become party to a political process. I did not want to damage the name of the Rashtrapati Bhavan, which has become a people’s bhavan during my tenure.” (Ibid, p.6)
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