Can the same person be a common man, missile man, Bharat Ratna, People’s President and Youth Icon? Yes, if and only if he is Dr. Kalam!
Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam was the 11th President of India for the term 2002-2007. Popularly known as the People’s President, he was the chief brain behind India’s attainment of the nuclear status in the global arena and was known as the ‘Missile Man of India’ for his work on the development of ballistic missiles and space rocket technology.
Very few are like this great man who enters into the politics and still remain untouched by the splatters of it. He was an epitome of simplicity, patriotism, and honesty. There are a plethora of incidents from his life which can impart the best teachings of life. Most of us Indians know him as the president, many know him as the missile man of India but he was a great human first of all the things and was admired by each and every citizen of the country irrespective of their religion, caste, race, creed etc. He was a person of such demeanor that he was appreciated and loved uniformly in all four sides of the country. Not only Indians but the diasporas outside to have a big corner in their heart reserved for Kalam Sir.
Instances of his greatness are numerous but some are really thought to provoke. It is quite unbelievable how a person who held such important positions in Indian Government can be so humble, simple and down to earth in his approach to life. It was once under a very tight project launch, a scientist working under him requested an early leave as he was supposed to take his son to an exhibition. Engrossed in his work, it was three hours late when the scientist realized that he forgot to keep his promise. Going back home with a guilty heart he was amazed to know that his son was not at home. None other than Kalam Sir had accompanied his son to the exhibition. This showed his utmost level of care and thoughtfulness towards his employees. In another incident when he was offered a bigger sized chair in a seminar at IIT Varanasi, he refused it gently as he strongly believed in equality. He was truly an epitome of simplicity and source of inspiration to many. These instances from his life tell us about his height of a character. He was working on a book before his untimely and sudden death.
It was during his tenure as a President of India that he became a nation-wide name and common people of India came to know about this simple yet great son of India. He was the brain behind the advanced missile technology of India. Not even he proved India’s prowess in missile advancement but Pokharan-II nuclear test was a success story that was possible only because of scientists like him. As there were prying eyes of Uncle Sam and allies on India’s nuclear ambitions, it was more than necessary for the former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee to keep it a concealed affair. Here Dr. Kalam Sir came to the rescue. He and his team wore camouflaged uniforms to disguise them as army personnel. They worked at night under smoke canisters for their nation. Later, it would be known as one of the failures of Central Intelligence Agency to detect nuclear testing activity. This shows the dedication level of the man who sacrificed his life truly for this nation. People like him are the real saints who present themselves in the service of the nation without ever demanding any returns.
We, as citizens of India, salute Kalam Sir for his great contribution to this nation and we will always be indebted to him for his efforts in making India – a world power. The nation will always remember Dr. Kalam as a token of respect.