Monday, August 03, 2015

Thank you for everything, Dr. Kalam!

It’s been a week since the unfortunate incident. And the mourning hasn’t stopped one little bit for the majority of Indians. It’s like losing one of your own and knowing that life won’t be the same again. That’s the impact Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam had on the entire nation. He loved us and we loved him. Before being the president (first citizen of the country) to being the President and even afterwards, he was always interested in meeting people and sharing his words of wisdom. Despite all the accolades that came his way, he still remained humble, true to his roots in a world filled with greed for money and hunger for power. 

I wonder how the students and faculty members of IIM Shillong might be feeling right now. They were listening to him intently and were about to be overpowered by his awe and persona when the unfortunate incident happened. I was tracking the news on Twitter but thought this might be another rumor. After all, twitter has reported death of a lot of celebrities / popular figures only for them to tweet proclaiming they are alive. Deep down, I was hoping it to be true even for Dr. Kalam. But it was not to be. News channels started their “Breaking News” stuff and in no time, the news I didn’t want to hear, started appearing in all news channels. Dr. Kalam was 83 years old.

A tribute to Dr APJ Abdul Kalam by White thoughts and Branding
Image: Kind Courtesy - White thoughts and Branding

Isn’t it poetic that he left us for heavenly abode doing what he loves doing?

Dr. Kalam was born in a poor family and was the youngest of 4 brothers and 1 sister. Due to the poor background, he started working to support his studies. By now, everyone knows he used to be a newspaper boy. He went on to graduate in Aerospace engineering. He joined DRDO (Defense Research and Development Organization) as a scientist then went on to become a project director who successfully launched the satellite ‘Rohini’ in the year 1980 while working for ISRO (Indian Space Research Organization). He was conferred with “Padma Bhushan” in 1981, “Padma Vibhushan” in 1990 and the biggest civilian honor “Bharat Ratna” in 1997 by the government of India. His story is a ‘rags-to-riches’ one with the only different being that his “rich” was more in terms of knowledge and compassion than money and power. He has and will continue to inspire millions to become the next ‘Kalam’.

Dr. Kalam had listed the following areas Indian need to focus on to become a "knowledge superpower" in his book “India 2020” - 
  1. Agriculture and food processing 
  2. Education and healthcare 
  3. Information and communication technology 
  4. Infrastructure, reliable and quality electric power, surface transport and infrastructure for all parts of the country and 
  5. Self-reliance in critical technologies.
..and he added one more in his recent book (Transcendence) – “Faith in God and spirituality”.

These aren’t just 5-6 pointers every other leader makes every other day in every other meeting. Dr. Kalam actually connected them and cohesively growth in these areas will make India a superpower in the real sense of the word. The essence of the above mentioned points is to become self-reliant and actually lead the world as the first mover – be it technology, infrastructure, education etc. It’s now up to the government, leaders and citizens to unite and fulfil the dream he had set for our country.

The subsequent generations will learn and know Dr. Kalam as one of the truly greats who walked the face of the Earth. His stories, the lessons to be learnt from him and his life, his witty and life-defining statements, his reign as the 11th President of India and he being known as the “People’s President” will all be part of the history books. I lived in an era when he was alive. My only regret is not being able to meet him or see him. But one day I will, for I will meet my maker one day and am sure my LORD will ask me what do I want to do first and my answer will be, “Can I meet the person who inspired millions of people on Earth, a leader who practices what he preached, a leader so rich in knowledge but was always ready to share?” 

When a well-respected and renowned person loses his life and we experience personal loss, then that’s a life worth living!

Long live, sir. Forever.

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