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Bollywood sold castles in the sky and Abdul Kalam dreamed of taking us there

On Monday, India’s former president and celebrated scientist, Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam, aka APJ Abdul Kalam, breathed his last. He was president of India between 2002 and 2007 and is considered India’s most loved president. Widely regarded as a genius, Dr. Kalam was seen as symbol of progress and hope. While Bollywood sold castles in the air, Kalam dreamt of taking us there. HEEBA DIN pays homage to the humble and gentle soul by remembering all that defined him.

Newspaper boy
Kalam was born in Tamil Nadu and came from a poor family. As a young boy, he used to sell newspapers to help contribute to the household income.

Average student
At school he was described as bright and hard-working. He remained an average student; it was his hard work that took him places.

Unfulfilled dreams
Growing up, Kalam dreamt of becoming a fighter pilot. He was never able to fulfil this dream but he inspired others to follow theirs. “Dreams are not those which come while we are sleeping, but dreams are those when you don’t sleep before fulfilling them,” he said.

MTV youth icon
At the age of 73, he was awarded the MTV youth icon award, a feat that underpinned his connection with India’s youth.

Dr without a PhD
The gifted scientist who oversaw the Pohkaran nuclear tests never did earn a PhD. However, in reward for his excellent work in the field, he was awarded 30 honorary doctorates.

From missiles to cardiology
He wasn’t only a master in the field of aeronautical engineering and nuclear weaponry but in 1998, he also developed a reasonably priced coronary stent with the aim of improving healthcare in poor areas.

The people’s president.
It is reported that Kalam once refused to sit in a chair designated to him, as it was larger in size than those meant for other guests. Never mind that, he took time to listen to children in particular, allowing them to visit his office, where he would talk to them about their dreams and aspirations.

A caring man
When an employee at Kalam’s defense research development organisation couldn’t take his children to an exhibition due to the workload, Kalam surprised everyone by taking the children to the exhibition himself.

Space hero
Kalam was one of the rare few scientists who made significant contributions to India’s early space program. He was the director of the project that indigenously developed the space launch vehicle SLV-III and also the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle, which was launched India’s lunar probe and its Mars probe; it remains operational today.

For the love of teaching
Kalam was driven by the passion of teaching, and igniting the minds of young men and women. He was born to teach and he died teaching.

heeba Din Heeba Din is a research scholar at Kashmir University and a contributor to The Daily Vox.
 – Featured image: Apj Kalam Wallpapers
1 Comment
  1. Indira says

    what an exceptional human being. Your article misses one important point – he was also apolitical. He became president of India and his role was symbolic. and he did so much good with his position.

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