Tribute to a common man with big dreams

Former President Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam (October 15, 1931 – July 27, 2015) died at a hospital in Shillong suffering severe cardiac arrest.

As soon as the breaking news about his death came, social media channels are flooded with R.I.P posts. As APJ is unique as always had been, these posts departing from a usual manner, described various stories about him. APJ reportedly met about 15 million students in the last decade sharing his vision to mission thoughts. In the last ten years, he toured across the world only to become People’s president as he is affectionately called.


These Quora threads describes them all

Why is Abdul Kalam most loved and respected by everyone?

What was it like to meet APJ Abdul Kalam?



If I have to write down my experiences, I went to his speeches twice, one during my school days and another when he visited our college.

I still remember his answer to a question :

A girl asked “I want to see a corruption free India. How exactly can we get rid of  this menace?”

APJ : It is quite simple.

Take a pledge

  • I will not bribe anybody
  • I will not allow my family to do it

That’s as simple as that. Your dream to see a corruption free India becomes reality.

The only scientist-president:

This is an extract from Turning Point: A Journey through Challenges, he describes the events leading up to becoming 11th president of India.

The morning of 10 June 2002 was like any other day in the beautiful environment of Anna University, where I had been working since December 2001. I had been enjoying my time in the large, tranquil campus, working with professors and inquisitive students on research projects and teaching. The authorized strength of my class was sixty students, but during every lecture, the classroom had more than 350 students and there was no way one could control the number of participants. My purpose was to understand the aspirations of the youth, to share my experiences from my many national missions and to evolve approaches for the application of technology for societal transformation through a specially designed course of ten lectures for postgraduate students.

As I was walking back, Prof A Kalanidhi, the vice-chancellor of Anna University, joined me. He said that my office had received many telephone calls during the day and someone was frantically trying to get in touch with me. As soon as I reached my rooms, I found the telephone was ringing. When I answered, a voice on the other end said, ‘The prime minister wants to talk to you.’

While I was waiting to be connected to the PM, Chandrababu Naidu, who was the chief minister of Andhra Pradesh, called me on my cellphone. He told me to expect an important call from the prime minister, adding, ‘Please do not say no.’

While I was talking to Naidu, the call from Atal Bihari Vajpayee materialized.

He said, ‘Kalam, how is your academic life?’

‘It is fantastic,’ I answered. Vajpayee continued, ‘We have some very important news for you. Just now, I am coming from a special meeting attended by leaders of all the coalition parties. We have decided unanimously that the nation needs you as its Rashtrapati. I have to announce this tonight. I would like to have your concurrence. I need only a “Yes”, not a “No”.’ Vajpayee, I might mention, was heading the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), a coalition of almost two dozen parties, and it was not always easy getting unanimity.

I hadn’t even had time to sit down after entering the room. Different images of the future appeared before me. One was that of being always surrounded by students and teachers. In the other, I was addressing Parliament with a vision for the nation. A decision matrix was evolving in my mind. I said, ‘Vajpayeeji (as I normally addressed him), can you give me two hours’ time to decide? It is also necessary that there be a consensus among all political parties on my nomination as presidential candidate.’

Vajpayee said, ‘After you agree, we will work for a consensus.’

Over the next two hours, I must have made thirty telephone calls to my close friends. Among them were people in academia and friends in the civil services and in politics too. One view that came across was that I was enjoying an academic life, which is my passion and love, and I shouldn’t disturb it. The second view was that this was an opportunity to put forth the India 2020 vision in front of the nation and Parliament, and that I must jump at it. Exactly after two hours, I was connected to the prime minister. I said, ‘Vajpayeeji, I consider this to be a very important mission and I would like to be an all-party candidate.’

He said, ‘Yes, we will work for it, thank you.’

The news travelled very fast indeed. Within 15 minutes, the news of my choice as presidential candidate was known throughout the country. Immediately, I was bombarded with an unmanageable number of telephone calls, my security was intensified and a large number of visitors gathered in my room.

The same day, Vajpayee consulted with Mrs Sonia Gandhi, the opposition leader, about the choice of candidate. When Mrs Gandhi asked whether the NDA’s choice was final, the prime minister responded in the affirmative. After due consultation with her party members and coalition partners, Mrs Gandhi announced the support of the Indian National Congress (INC) to my candidature on 17 June 2002. I would have loved to get the support of the Left parties also but they decided to nominate their own candidate. As soon as I agreed to be a candidate for the presidency, a huge number of write-ups began to appear about me. Many questions were raised by the media. In essence, they were asking, how could a non-political person, particularly a scientist, become president of the nation?

Source:Internet. However, you may buy this book here to read further.

What is Left Behind?

It is work Yes, it is responsibility that is left on us to carry forward his vision to make India a developed country. From Kalam’s quote :

The country doesn’t deserve anything less than success from us. Let us aim for success.


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