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Saturday, August 1, 2015

Dr. A. P. J Abdul Kalam's passing. A Nation without Wings.

Today, India is upset - upset like a bird that lost its wings, all of a sudden. 

Dr. A. P. J Abdul Kalam, who India lost this week, was 'wings' for the nation. He was the first ‘president of the people’ of India, who knew the nation by the people who lived in it. He was not a Muslim born in India but an Indian born in Islam. He was not a child born with a platinum spoon in his mouth; he was just an ordinary boy who knew the pain of hunger. 

He later taught a whole nation how to dream. It was all the difference he made in India. After 5th September 1997 on which India lost its’ Nobel Laureate – Mother Teresa of Missionaries of Charity, I should say that it is Dr. A. P. J Abdul Kalam whose death shook the nation so awfully. M Teresa was a Christian and Dr. A. P. J Abdul Kalam was a Muslim.

Whenever I realize that these things happen in a ationn in which 78% of the people are Hindus, I am delighted because, it is the type of solidarity Indian thoughts envision and work for. Quite recently, I heard a similar touching story from Kerala. The heart of a clinically dead Hindu man from Trivandrum was transplanted successfully to a poor Christian auto driver in Kochi (another city in Kerala, away by some 200 kilometres).
The story never ends without a comment on the Muslim who financed this.

Unless religions interrupt in, the heart of India always has a soft corner for its brethren beyond considerations of caste and culture.

Dr Kalam taught the nation to respect each other beyond caste and religion barriers. Without Dr Kalam somebody would have brewed up powerful satellites and rockets but nobody would have taught the nation how to dream; nobody could have written powerfully motivating books for the future.




For all those who may not be on twitter and couldn't get it, this is from the twitter handle of Dr. A. P. J.

Written by Srijan Pal Singh.

What I will be remembered for, 
my memory of the last day with the great Kalam sir.
It has been eight hours since we last talked – sleep eludes me and memories keep flushing down, sometimes as tears. Our day, 27th July, began at 12 noon when we took our seats in the flight to Guwahati. Dr. Kalam was 1A and I was IC. He was wearing a dark colored “Kalam suit”, and I started off complimenting, “Nice color!” Little did I know this was going to be the last colour I will see him in.

Long, 2.5 hours of flying in the monsoon weather. I hate turbulence and he had 
mastered managing them. Whenever he would see me go cold in a shaking 'plane, he would just pull down the window pane and say, “Now you don’t see any fear!”.

That was followed by another 2.5 hours of a car drive to I. I. M Shillong. For this two-legged trip of five hours we
 talked, discussed, and debated. These were amongst hundreds of the long flights and longer drives we have been together on,  over the last six years.
As each of them, this was as special too. Three incidents/discussions, in
 particular, will be among the “lasting memories of our last trip”.
First, Dr. Kalam was absolutely worried about the attacks in Punjab. The loss of innocent lives left him
 filled with sorrow. The topic of the  lecture at IIM Shillong was 'Creating a Livable Planet Earth.' He related the incident to the topic and said, “it seems the man-made forces are as big a threat to the livability of the earth as pollution”. We discussed on how, if this trend of violence, pollution, and reckless human action continues, we will be forced to leave the earth in "thirty years, at this rate, maybe”, he said. “You guys must do something about it… it is going to be your future world”

Our second discussion was more national. For the past two days, Dr. Kalam was worried that time and again the Parliament, the supreme institution of democracy, was dysfunctional. He said, “I have seen two different governments in my tenure. I have seen more after that. This disruption just keeps happening. It is not right. I really need to find out a way to ensure that the parliament works on developmental politics.” He then asked me to prepare a surprise assignment question for the students at IIM Shillong, which he would give them only at the end of the lecture. He wanted them to suggest three innovative ways to make the Parliament more productive and vibrant. Then, after a while he returned to it. “But how can I ask them to give solutions if I don’t have any myself”. For the next one hour, we thwarted options after options, that come up with his recommendation over the issue. 
We wanted to include this discussion in our upcoming book, Advantage India.
Third, was an experience from the beauty of his humility. We were in a convoy of 6-7 cars. Dr. Kalam and I were in the second car. Ahead of us was an open Gypsy van with three soldiers in it. Two of them were sitting on either side and one lean guy was standing atop, holding his gun. One hour into the road journey, Dr. Kalam said, “Why is he standing? He will get tired. This is like a punishment. Can you ask a wireless message to given that he may sit?” I had to convince him, he has been probably instructed to keep standing for better security. He did not relent. We tried radio messaging, that did not work. For the next 1.5 hours of the journey, he reminded me thrice if I could hand-signal him to sit down. Finally, realizing there is little we could do – he told me, “I want to meet him and thank him”. 
Later, when we landed in IIM Shillong, I went inquiring through the security people and got hold of the guy who had been standing. I took him inside and Dr. Kalam greeted him. He shook his hand, said "Thank you, buddy. Are you tired? Would you like something to eat? I am sorry you had to stand so long because of me”. The young, lean, guard, draped in black cloth, was surprised at this treatment. He lost words, just said, “Sir, aapke liye to 6 ghante bhi khade rahenge”. (Sir for you, we can even stand for 6 hours).

After this, we went to the lecture hall. He did not want to be late for the lecture. “Students should never be made to wait,” he always said. I quickly set up his mike, briefed on the final lecture and took
 up a position at the computers. As I pinned his mike, he smiled and said, “Funny guy! Are you doing well?” ‘Funny guy’, when said by Kalam could mean a variety of things, depending on the tone and your own assessment. It could mean, you have done well, you have messed up something, you should listen to him or just that you have been plain naïve or he was just being jovial. Over six years I had learnt to interpret Funny Guy like the back of my palm. This time, it was the last case.
“Funny guy! Are you doing well?” he said. I smiled back, “Yes”. Those were the last words he said. Two minutes into the speech, sitting behind him, I heard a long pause after completing one sentence. I looked at him, he fell down.
We picked him up. As the doctor rushed, we tried whatever we could. I will never forget the look in his three-quarter closed eyes and I held his head with one hand and tried reviving with whatever I could. His hands clenched, curled onto my finger. There was stillness on his face and those wise eyes were motionlessly radiating wisdom. He never said a word. He did not show pain,
 only purpose was visible.
Within five
 minutes, we were in the nearest hospital. In another few minutes the they indicated the missile man had flown away, forever. I touched his feet, one last time. 
Adieu old friend! Grand mentor! See you in my thoughts and meet you in the next birth.
As I turned back, a closet of thoughts opened.

Often he would ask me, “You are young, decide what you will like to be remembered for” I kept thinking of new impressive answers, till one day I gave up and resorted to tit-for-tat. I asked him, “First you tell me, what will you like to be remembered for? President, Scientist, Writer, Missile - man, India 2020, Target 3 billion…. What?” I thought I had made the question easier by giving options, but he sprang on me a surprise. “Teacher”, he said.

Then something he said two weeks back when we were discussing his missile - time friends. He said, “Children need to take care of their parents. It is sad that sometimes this is not happening”. He paused and said, 
“Two things. Elders must also do. Never leave wealth at your deathbed – that leaves a fighting family. 
Second: One is blessed if one can die working, standing tall without any long drawn ailing. Goodbyes should be short, really short.”

Today, I look back – he took the final journey, teaching, what he always wanted to be remembered doing. And, till his final moment he was standing, working and lecturing. He left us, as a great teacher, standing tall. He leaves the world with nothing accumulated in his account but loads of wishes and love of people. He was a successful, even in his end.

Will miss all the lunches and dinners we had together, will miss all the times you surprised me with your humility and startled me with your curiosity, will miss the lessons of life you taught, in action and words, will miss our struggles to race to make it to the flights, our trips, our long debates. You gave me dreams, you showed me dreams need to be impossible, for anything else is a compromise to my own ability. 
The man is gone, the mission lives on. Long live, Kalam.
Your indebted student,
Srijan Pal Singh


Great words by the great man>

Some of Dr. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam’s  Quotes


“Don’t take rest after your first victory because if you fail in second, more lips are waiting to say that your first victory was just luck.” 

“All Birds find shelter during the rain. But the Eagle avoids the rain by flying above the clouds.” 

“Failure will never overtake me if my determination to succeed is strong enough.” 

“Man needs difficulties in life because they are necessary to enjoy the success.”

“If you want to shine like the sun, first burn like the sun.” 

“It is very easy to defeat someone, but it is very hard to win someone.” 

"All of us do not have equal talent, but all of us have an equal opportunity to develop our talents.” 

" Be more dedicated to making solid achievements than in running after swift but synthetic happiness." 

"Thinking should become your capital asset, no matter whatever ups and downs you come across in your life." 

" Without your involvement you can't succeed. With your involvement, you can't fail."

"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.

English is necessary as at present original works of science are in English. I believe that in two decades times original works of science will start coming out in our languages. Then we can move over like the Japanese.

You have to dream before your dreams can come true." 

From messages shared by Kaushal N. Shah, Anup Achuthan, andSubhas Rao.