“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.”
— Dr. A P J Abdul Kalam
The teacher, who made a huge difference in the field of education, science and technology, Dr. Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam, left us on this day of 27th July last year. He was delivering a lecture at IIM Shillong, when he met with a heart attack, and an hour later the world had lost a visionary. He was 84.
Dr. Kalam left behind him a vacuum. It will be difficult to ever replace the great, at the same time the most humble and simple man who changed the face of Indian science.
Abdul Kalam was born on October 15, 1931 to a Tamil Muslim family in Rameswaram; his father was a boat owner and his mother a housewife. An average student in school, Kalam climbed his way to the heights of immense success through his hard work and his love for science.
A fighter pilot aspirant in his early life and the third on the list of Bharat Ratna awardees, Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam was elected as the 11th President of India in the year 2002, thanks to his phenomenal set of achievements in the field of science, technology and education.
His career as a scientist was an exceptionally successful one, as he was a part of the Defence Research Development Organisation (DRDO) and India Space Research Organisation (ISRO) for four decades and was intimately involved in India’s civilian space program and military missile development efforts, which earned him the name The Missile Man of India.
But there was something else that he loved and lived for — education. He was not just a successful scientist and a president, but also a youth icon, loved by students all over India and abroad.
Dr. Kalam even breathed his last among the people he loved being with most — students. A great academician who loved interacting with the youth, the doctor had been a guest lecturer at various eminent institutes — IIM Shillong, IIM Ahmedabad, IIM Indore, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, BHU and many others.
It was his usual practise to hold a question hour after he finished delivering a lecture at any institute. He wanted students to raise questions and not just blindly follow. The People’s President would say, “I feel comfortable in the company of young people, particularly high school students. Henceforth, I intend to share with them experiences, helping them to ignite their imagination and preparing them to work for a developed India for which the road map is already available.”
Not to forget his art of writing, Dr. Kalam authored numerous books. Some of his works that are appreciated not just in India but in other nations too, are Wings of Fire, Ignited Minds, India 2020.
India might have lost a man of substance, who contributed immeasurably in the arena of science, technology and academics, but his ideas and philosophies are immortal and hope to stay in the Indian archive, treasured forever.