“Great dreams of great dreamers are always transcended”
The man whose name was synonymous to the tags, the People’s President, the India’s Missile Man, the Bharat Ratna, and an inspirational teacher, Dr, A.P.J Abdul Kalam, breathed his last doing what he loved the most, teaching young students.
An enthusiast till the end for sharing ideas with students and youth, former president A.P.J. Abdul Kalam collapsed while delivering a lecture at the IIM-Shillong. He was taken to a hospital where he died of cardiac arrest.
Just a few hours after he had tweeted of his visit to the IIM Shillong, clearly enthused about sharing his thoughts with the students.
The sudden demise of India’s most loved President ever has left India shocked and crushed.
At Delhi’s Palam Airport, President Pranab Mukherjee, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and three services chiefs received Dr Kalam’s body and offered their respects. Defence Minister, Home Minister were also present at the Airport.
Wrapped in tricolour, his body was then taken to his Delhi residence 10 Rajaji Marg for people to pay their homage to their beloved President, while his funeral will be held at his hometown Rameshwaram.
An irreparable loss, Kalam’s death has plunged the nation into overwhelming grief. Seven day national mourning has been declared. Lok Sabha has been adjourned till 30th of July while Rajya Sabha has been adjourned for a day.
Venture the journey of India’s “Missile Man”…
Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam was born on 15th October, 1931 to a Muslim fisherman family in the Hindu pilgrim town of Rameshwaram in Tamil Nadu. Coming from a poor family, Kalam distributed newspapers to contribute to his father Jainulabdeen’s income. In his school years he had average grades but was described as a bright and hardworking student.
After graduating in Physics from St Joseph’s college in Trichy in 1954, he moved to Madras in 1955 to study Aerospace Engineering from Madras Institute of Technology. In 1960, he joined the Aeronautical Development Establishment at Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and thus began his journey as India’s Missile Man.
In 1969, Kalam moved to the Indian Space Research Organisation. At ISRO, he became the project director of India’s first Satellite Launch Vehicle – SLV-III which successfully deployed the Rohini satellite in near-earth orbit in July 1980, making India a member of the exclusive Space Club.
He rejoined DRDO in 1982, and worked as a Chief Executive on a missile programme, earning the title of Missile Man. Kalam played a major part in developing many missiles, including Agni and Prithvi.
His contribution to India’s space and defence programmes is unmatched.
From 1992 to 1997, Kalam was scientific adviser to the defence minister, and from 1999-2001 served as principal scientific adviser to the government with the rank of a cabinet minister.
He played a prominent role in the country’s 1998 nuclear weapons tests, Pokhran-II, which established Kalam as a national hero.
In 1998, Kalam put forward his Vision 2020, a roadmap for transforming India into a developed society in 20 years.
From November 2001, Kalam became a professor of technology and societal transformation at Anna University, Chennai.
When Kalam stepped as President for very first time in Parliament…
In 2002, Dr APJ Abdul Kalam became the 11th President of India. Nominated by NDA govt, Kalam won spectacularly with almost 90% votes. Sworn in on 25th July 2002, Kalam became the first scientist and bachelor to move into Rashtrapati Bhawan. He also became the third President to have been awarded with Bharat Ratna.
During his tenure, he was affectionately known as the People’s President. He made many important decisions as President but he said that signing the Office Of Profit Bill was the toughest decision he made. He also took the controversial decision to impose President’s Rule in Bihar in 2005. In September 2003, Kalam supported the need of Uniform Civil Code in India.
As President, Dr. Kalam often used to meet children in his personal chambers at the Rashtrapati Bhavan. He listened to and provided feedback. He also used to personally reply to the letters children and young students sent him.
At the end of his term on 20th June 2007, Kalam refused to contest for Presidential Elections as he didn’t have the support of all parties.
In 2012, after the end of Pratibha Patil’s presidency, reports emerged of Kalam’s nomination for second term. Backed by BJP, support for Kalam as President poured on social media. However, Kalam declined to contest the 2012 presidential poll, saying:
“Many, many citizens have also expressed the same wish. It only reflects their love and affection for me and the aspiration of the people. I am really overwhelmed by this support. This being their wish, I respect it. I want to thank them for the trust they have in me.”
A man of science and a supporter of nuclear energy, Kalam was criticised over his stand on the Koodankulam Power Plant as he supported the Nuclear Plant in 2011 while the civil groups opposed it. He was also criticised for not deciding on the fate of mercy petitions, including that of Afzal Guru, submitted to him during his tenure as President.
However, the criticisms never affected the ignited mind of India’s Missile Man and he carried on what he always did best, spreading knowledge, joy and cheer.
He wrote many books to inspire the youth of India, including Wings of Fire, India 2020 – A Vision for the New Millennium, My Journey and Ignited Minds.
Bestowed with countless awards and accolades in his lifetime..
Kalam received the unique honour of receiving honorary “doctorates from 30 universities and institutions from across the world.”
He was was awarded the “Padma Bhushan” in 1981
“Padma Vibhushan” in 1990
He received the topmost Indian honour – “he Bharat Ratna” in 1997.
What he loved the most, died last doing…
If there was one thing that Kalam loved the most, it was being among the students and youth, as he used to say, Let us sacrifice our today so that our children can have a better tomorrow. In May 2012, he launched a programme for the youth of India called the What Can I Give Movement, with a central theme of defeating corruption.
Kalam was a mascot for true secularism as he used to read Bhagwat Geeta everyday.
And now, tributes are pouring in from across the world.
India’s most loved leader is now gone, but the power of his words, his ideas remain among us. He will continue to inspire and transform this generation and the ones to come. As he said in his last words…
“The power of grey hair white moustache has gone. Now the power of wisdom, pride, courage, illumination has risen and I put it under one name I call them students.”
Author- Ritika Srivastava
Producer NewsX, Itv Network Ltd.