Monday, July 27, 2015

Boatman's son who became President of India: Technocrat-turn-leader APJ Abdul Kalam who inspired millions is no more

Former president of India APJ Abdul Kalam, an iconic figure in India, and a technocrat-turn-leader who inspired millions of people, especially, the children, passed away in Shillong on July 27.

Kalam was 83. He was recipient of India's highest honour, Bharat Ratna.

He had gone to North East, and was delivering a lecture at IIM, when he suddenly collapsed. Doctors said that it was a massive heart attack, which caused his death.

Avul Pakir Jainul Abideen Abdul Kalam was born in Rameswaram in Tamil Nadu in 1931. His father was a boat owner. Kalam had worked from early childhood and distributed newspapers to supplement to the family's income.


A bright student, he studied Aerospace engineering and went on to join DRDO as scientist. Later, he joined ISRO. The development of Missiles like Agni and Prithvi during his tenure, brought the title 'Missile Man' to him.

In the 90s, he headed DRDO and was also the chief scientific advisor to the Prime Minister. He went on to become President of India. Kalam went on to become one of the most popular leaders in post-liberalised India.


In fact, he managed to have a connect with the students, especially, children, which no one has had, probably, after first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru. Kalam was also lovingly called 'chacha' by kids who felt inspired by him.

There are few people in the history of modern India, who have been loved so much. While India has had far more popular politicians, it has had few 'leaders' who have been loved so much. People from all sides of the political spectrum liked him.


When Kalam would visit schools, kids would flock to see him. He motivated them, gave them dreams.  His autobiography 'Wings of Fire' has been a permanent best seller. There was something in Kalam, which made everybody admire him.

A humble man, his first love was 'educating' students. Dr Kalam never cared much about protocol and remained active till his last breath. He travelled across the country, interacting with people. During his tenure at President too, he acted like a 'People's president'.


In an era, when politicians invited scorn, Kalam emerged as a true leader, someone young generation could look up to. Even those who look at every thing from religious angle, looked at him differently. There was a blend of innocence and charisma in his personality.

APJ Abdul Kalam has left an indelible mark on the minds of countless Indians, and there is no doubt at all that he is one of the greatest Indians ever, who will continue to inspire generations and who can never be forgotten.

Can we have another leader like him? That's the toughest question. Rest In Peace, Kalam Sahab, for you were the real leader, a person who wanted India to achieve progress, who wanted children to dream big and turn their dreams into reality.