Remembering late APJ Kalam on his 89th birth anniversary!

The nation is observing former President late APJ Abdul Kalam’s 89th birth anniversary today. Presidents come and go. But the institution persists. However, certain presidents earn an image larger than the institution. Kalam was certainly not a traditional president. With his long hair and easy manner, he seemed to feel that he was one of the masses. He was a man of science, in a country steeped in superstition.
Kalam (Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam) was born on October 15, 1931, at Rameswaram in Tamil Nadu. His life as a student was very challenging filled with hardships and struggles. There was a time when he had to sell newspapers from door to door to support his family and education. His commitment and love for education was such that he overcame all hardships and achieved excellence not only in academics; but also held the highest constitutional post in India. Dr APJ Abdul Kalam will remain an inspiration and role model for generations to come. He was truly ‘People’s President’. He was so popular among masses and perhaps the secret of his popularity lies in his humaneness.
In 2012, almost five years after he ceased being President, Reliance along with Outlook, CNN-IBN and The History Channel conducted a poll to identify the greatest Indian after Gandhi. Kalam ranked first in the market survey result and second in the online polls.
The reason for Kalam’s popularity may also be because of his unique syncretism. A devout Muslim, and follower of Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti, he often quoted verses from the Bhagavad Gita. His favourite character was Vidura from the Mahabharata whom he liked for his simplicity and steadfastness to principles. At the same time, he lived by the ideal of Caliph Omar that all men are equal before the eyes of God. He was comfortable reciting the Koran as well as playing the Rudra veena.
Dr APJ Abdul Kalam headed multiple nuclear tests at Pokhran. As the Chief Scientific Adviser to the then Prime Minister, Dr Kalam played a major role in heading the Pokhran-II nuclear tests. The nuclear tests under the supervision of Dr Kalam, during July 1992 to December 1999, made India a nuclear power. Dr Kalam led India's two major science research organisations - Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). For his work on AGNI and PRITHVI, Dr APJ Abdul Kalam was fondly called the 'Missile Man of India'

- Prabhakar Purandare

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