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.
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.
— ABP News (@abpnewstv) July 28, 2015
At school he was described as bright and hard-working. He remained an average student; it was his hard work that took him places.
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.
— scroll.in (@scroll_in) July 28, 2015
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.
He was not only a great scientist, educationist and statesman, but also above all a real gentleman: Dalia Lama on Kalam. — Manu Pubby (@manupubby) July 28, 2015
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.