APJ Abdul Kalam birth anniversary: 7 lesser-known things about the people’s president…

Former president (late) APJ Abdul Kalam’s birth anniversary is being marked on Monday. Kalam, who was also known as the Missile Man of India, had served as the 11th President of India. He was born on 15 October 1931 in Rameswaram and breathed his last on 27 July 2015. While being a world-renowned scientist, Kalam had also interests in literature, writing poems, playing musical instruments and even spirituality. He had written some very well-known books like ‘India 2020: A Vision for the New Millennium’, ‘Wings of Fire: An Autobiography’, and ‘Ignited Minds: Unleashing the Power within India’.

Here are some lesser-known things about the people’s president to whose heart children were very dear:

  1. Kalam was not born with the proverbial silver spoon in his mouth. Coming from a family of average resources, he grew up watching father renting his boat to fishermen to run his house. In fact, Kalam used to deliver newspapers every morning to earn money.
  2. Kalam was a very simple man. When he died, he left behind nothing but 2,500 books, one watch, six shirts, four pants, three suits and one pair of shoes.
  3. After retiring, Kalam lived on his pension money and royalty from the sales of his books.
  4. When his term ended as president, Kalam did not take any gifts home and deposited them into the government treasury.
  5. According to one his former media advisors, there was a time when Kalam used to live in a government quarter where he did not have television and used to access news on radio / newspaper.
  6. Kalam had once visited IIT-Mumbai. The students were so much interested in meeting the scientist that a huge queue formed outside the auditorium. In fact, some of the students had queued up at night itself to see the Missile Man. After the event, Kalam did not disappoint any student and met them all.
  7. Kalam had once revealed that he wanted to become a fighter pilot but could not clear the exam. Later in 2006, as president, Kalam had flown in a Sukhoi jet.



India’s Successful Missile Testing Site, Wheeler Island Will Now Become Abdul Kalam Island …

Wheeler Island, which is considered the most advanced missile testing site in India, will be renamed after Late Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam. For the man who was fondly called the “Missile Man”, this seems like a fitting tribute.

It has been over a month since we lost our beloved Missile Man, Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam. And every now and then, we keep finding different ways to pay tribute to him and to keep him alive in our memories.

This time it is the Odisha government which has paid an extra ordinary tribute to Dr. Kalam, by naming the Wheeler Island after him.

Photo: www.abdulkalam.com

Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik made an announcement about the decision on Monday. He said that the move will inspire youngsters to work passionately and dedicatedly in the field of science. The 2km long and 390 acres big island will now be known as Abdul Kalam Island. The island is located off the coast of Odisha and is approximately 150km from Bhubaneswar.

This is a fitting tribute to the great man since the island is considered to be the country’s most advanced missile testing site.

Wheeler Island was named after an English commandant, Lieutenant Wheeler and has been used to test many successful missiles of India including Akash Missiles, Agni Missiles, Astra Missile, BrahMos, Nirbhay, Prahaar Missile, Prithvi Missiles, Shaurya Missile, Advanced Air Defence (AAD), and Prithvi Air Defence.

Here are a few of them:

Akash Missile Launch from Integrated Test Range (ITR), Wheeler Island


Advanced Air Defence Launch


Shaurya Missile Launch

DRDO successfully test fired canister-launched surface-to-surface missile 'Shourya' from ITR Balasore, Orissa on November 12, 2008.

All pics: Wikipedia

Source….Shreya Pareek…..www.thebetterindia.com



” My Memory of the Last Day with the Great Kalam Sir…” A Touching Note From Sri Janpal Singh , Aide of Dr. Kalam Thro his Face Book page

“What I will be remembered for.. my memory of the last day with the great Kalam sir…

It has been eight hours since we last talked – sleep eludes me and memories keep flushing down, sometimes as tears. Our day, 27th July, began at 12 noon, when we took our seats in the flight to Guhawati. Dr. Kalam was 1A and I was IC. He was wearing a dark colored “Kalam suit”, and I started off complimenting, “Nice color!” Little did I know this was going to be the last color I will see on him.
Long, 2.5 hours of flying in the monsoon weather. I hate turbulence, and he had mastered over them. Whenever he would see me go cold in shaking plane, he would just pull down the window pane and saw, “Now you don’t see any fear!”.
That was followed by another 2.5 hours of car drive to IIM Shillong. For these two legged trip of five hours we talked, discussed and debated. These were amongsthundreds of the long flights and longer drives we have been together over the last six years.
As each of them, this was as special too. Three incidents/discussions in particular will be “lasting memories of our last trip”.
First, Dr. Kalam was absolutely worried about the attacks in Punjab. The loss of innocent lives left him filledwith sorrow. The topic of lecture at IIM Shillong was Creating a Livable Planet Earth. He related the incident to the topic and said, “it seems the man made forces are as big a threat to the livability of earth as pollution”. We discussed on how, if this trend of violence, pollution and reckless human action continues we will forced to leave earth. “Thirty years, at this rate, maybe”, he said. “You guys must do something about it… it is going to be your future world”

Our second discussion was more national. For the past two days, Dr. Kalam was worried that time and again Parliament, the supreme institution of democracy, was dysfunctional. He said, “I have seen two different governments in my tenure. I have seen more after that. This disruption just keeps happening. It is not right. I really need to find out a way to ensure that the parliament works on developmental politics.” He then asked me to prepare a surprise assignment question for the students at IIM Shillong, which he would give them only at the end of the lecture. He wanted to them to suggest three innovative ways to make the Parliament more productive and vibrant. Then, after a while he returned on it. “But how can ask them to give solutions if I don’t have any myself”. For the next one hour, we thwarted options after options, who come up with his recommendation over the issue. We wanted to include this discussion in our upcoming book, Advantage India.
Third, was an experience from the beauty of his humility. We were in a convoy of 6-7 cars. Dr. Kalam and I were in the second car. Ahead us was an open gypsy with three soldiers in it. Two of them were sitting on either side and one lean guy was standing atop, holding his gun. One hour into the road journey, Dr. Kalam said, “Why is he standing? He will get tired. This is like punishment. Can you ask a wireless message to given that he may sit?” I had to convince him, he has been probably instructed to keep standing for better security. He did not relent. We tried radio messaging, that did not work. For the next 1.5 hours of the journey, he reminded me thrice to see if I can hand signal him to sit down. Finally, realizing there is little we can do – he told me, “I want to meet him and thank him”. Later, when we landed in IIM Shillong, I went inquiring through security people and got hold of the standing guy. I took him inside and Dr. Kalam greeted him. He shook his hand, said thank you buddy. “Are you tired?

Would you like something to eat? I am sorry you had to stand so long because of me”. The young lean guard, draped in black cloth, was surprised at the treatment. He lost words, just said, “Sir, aapkeliye to 6 ghantebhikhaderahenge”.
After this, we went to the lecture hall. He did not want to be late for the lecture. “Students should never be made to wait”, he always said. I quickly set up his mike, briefed on final lecture and took position on the computers. As I pinned his mike, he smiled and said, “Funny guy! Are you doing well?” ‘Funny guy’, when said by Kalam could mean a variety of things, depending on the tone and your own assessment. It could mean, you have done well, you have messed up something, you should listen to him or just that you have been plain naïve or he was just being jovial. Over six years I had learnt to interpret Funny Guy like the back of my palm. This time it was the last case.

Funny guy! Are you doing well?” he said. I smiled back, “Yes”. Those were the last words he said. Two minutes into the speech, sitting behind him, I heard a long pause after completing one sentence. I looked at him, he fell down.
We picked him up. As the doctor rushed, we tried whatever we could. I will never forget the look in his three-quarter closed eyes and I held his head with one hand and tried reviving with whatever I could. His hands clenched, curled onto my finger. There was stillness on his face and those wise eyes were motionlessly radiating wisdom. He never said a word. He did not show pain, only purpose was visible.
In five minutes we were in the nearest hospital. In another few minutes the they indicated the missile man had flown away, forever. I touched his feet, one last time. Adieu old friend! Grand mentor! See you in my thoughts and meet in the next birth.
As turned back, a closet of thoughts opened.
Often he would ask me, “You are young, decide what will like to be remembered for?” I kept thinking of new impressive answers, till one day I gave up and resorted to tit-for-tat. I asked him back, “First you tell me, what will you like to be remembered for? President, Scientist, Writer, Missile man, India 2020, Target 3 billion…. What?” I thought I had made the question easier by giving options, but he sprang on me a surprise. “Teacher”, he said.

Then something he said two weeks back when we were discussing about his missile time friends. He said, “Children need to take care of their parents. It is sad that sometimes this is not happening”. He paused and said, “Two things. Elders must also do. Never leave wealth at your deathbed – that leaves a fighting family. Second, one is blessed is one can die working, standing tall without any long drawn ailing. Goodbyes should be short, really short”.
Today, I look back – he took the final journey, teaching, what he always wanted to be remembered doing. And, till his final moment he was standing, working and lecturing. He left us, as a great teacher, standing tall. He leaves the world with nothing accumulated in his account but loads of wishes and love of people. He was a successful, even in his end.
Will miss all the lunches and dinners we had together, will miss all the times you surprised me with your humility and startled me with your curiosity, will miss the lessons of life you taught in action and words, will miss our struggles to race to make into flights, our trips, our long debates. You gave me dreams, you showed me dreams need to be impossible, for anything else is a compromise to my own ability. The man is gone, the mission lives on. Long live Kalam.”

pic .. Dr APJ Abdul Kalam meeting the jawan who stood in the gypsy)

Sri Janpal Singh with the People’s President

Source….. Facebook page of Sri Jan Pal Singh ….Certainly an unforgettable trip for Shri Sri JanPal Singh as shared in his facebook page …


” When a Problem Arises , Become the Captain of the Problem and Defeat it…” Dr. A P J Abdul Kalam

From the Archives of Rediff.com …. This   Article dates back to 6 NOV 2014….

Once, during his Presidency, President A P J Abdul Kalam received a letter from a student shocked with his class 12th mark-sheet.

He had secured 10 per cent in Maths and Physics, whereas throughout his school career, he had always scored 90 per cent and above.

In utter dismay, he wrote to the President of India, asking for his help.

President Kalam referred his case to the authorities and two weeks later got a reply that indeed there was a mistake in the evaluation and a rectification had been done.

APJ Abdul Kalam

In the last 15 years, President Kalam — arguably India’s most popular President and among the founders of the country’s space programme — has interacted with 18 million young Indians, face-to-face, through e-mail and over Facebook.

He receives 300 e-mails everyday.

Some of these letters have been turned into his latest book Forge Your Future, which provides an insight into the issues which concern and engage the minds of young Indians today. President Kalam’s replies are based on his personal experiences, his reading and his interactions with political and spiritual leaders.

The title of the book was selected after an online public vote.

In his quiet bungalow in Lutyens’ Delhi, President Kalam speaks to Archana Masih/Rediff.com about India becoming a developed country by 2020-2022, the heroes he admires, how 90 per cent of India’s space programme is intended for the people and the individual’s potential to become unique.

Photographs: Rajesh Karkera/Rediff.com

Dr Kalam, please can you tell me a little about your daily schedule? What’s it like 

The garden here has a 107-year old tree. Edwin Lutyens himself built and stayed in this house — so he maybe somewhere here (laughs).

His relatives had come to see this building.

The 107-year-old tree is beautiful. Parrots and various other birds live at the top and at the bottom live peacocks. Every year there are baby peacocks. I have a very bioactive tree.

I walk for 1 hour and 15 minutes every day. I spend time in my library.

In a month, I spend 15 days travelling in India. For ten days in a year, I go abroad. I am an honorary professor at the University of Beijing.

Every month, I meet a minimum of 100,000 young people. A million people in a year. So far I have met 18 million young people below the age of 25 in my country.

You get 300 e-mails everyday and spend two hours answering them. When did this process begin? When did you start actively engaging with young people?

It all started when I wrote Wings of Fire, in which I conveyed my life, how I had lived it, how I got myself educated, how I started meeting youth…

I was also teaching at Anna University at that time. After my work as scientific advisor, then projector director SLV 3, programme director AGNI — after all that I went in 2001 to Anna University as a professor.

I also get some handwritten letters. I consider them very important and I love to reply to them because they come from people from the grassroots who do not have access to the Internet. They come with unique questions and I have to give unique answers.

APJ Abdul Kalam

You mention what President Mandela told you about courage in your book — who are some of the most inspiring world leaders you have met?

Two world leaders exclusively come to my mind — Mahatma Gandhi and his unique life. Similarly, Nelson Mandela. I went to the prison where Mandela lived.

Where there is righteousness in the heart, there is beauty in the character. That’s the example of Mahatma Gandhi throughout his life.

In 2006, I travelled in the same kind of train with a steam engine from Durban to Pietermaritzburg. I could imagine the courage which Gandhiji showed in that cold winter.

Ahimsa dharma came after the battle of Kalinga. It transformed King Ashoka. The second time ahimsa dharma was put into action was by Mahatma Gandhi at Pietermaritzburg.

This book gives three messages. First: You can become a unique personality. Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela were unique.

The other important thing about this book is about continuously acquiring knowledge. Thirdly, when the problem arises — become the captain of the problem and defeat it.

You envisioned a growth plan for India called Vision 2020. How close are we to achieving that vision, in view of that deadline being six years away?

Actually India 2020 is a vision for an economically developed India by 2020. Up to 2008 our GDP was 8 to 9 per cent. Then there was a problem across the Atlantic Ocean, and our GDP crashed to 6 to 7 per cent, then to 5.5 and then to 5 per cent.

So in the 2008-2014 period, we had a slack in our development programme.

Six years is a long period in a nation like India with 600 million youth, nowhere in the democratic world there exists this strength.

We also have a natural way of life. Our agriculture is doing well. We have 250 to 260 million tons of food. Our IT, small scale and pharma industries are doing very well.

Of course, we have to do lots in the development of the rural area. We have 600,000 villages where 700 million people live. We have to Provide Urban Amenities to Rural Areas (PURA). Seven thousand PURAS are needed to lift 600,000 villages.

Even now it is not too late. Fortunately, I understand the present government is taking a priority for PURAS. If they push it along with small scale industry and smart waterways, then definitely 2020 — plus or minus 2 years — we can get there.

So you are confident by 2022, that we may be able to do it?

We can do it, provided we have a national vision.

Do we have that national vision?

From 1930 to 1947, we wanted Freedom. Our caste system vanished, our religions vanished, our differences vanished and we were fighting only for Independence. I call that the first mission that India had.

The second vision: Economic development. If you work like that and declare that mission in Parliament and people and government work for it, irrespective of whichever party they belong to, it is possible. Because our resources are youth power and our natural resources.

The Book Cover

Image: President Kalam’s latest book Forge Your Future

In your book, you say ‘The orientation must turn from the past to the future and focus on how India can become a developed nation. The real issue is that we are not to see ourselves as a nation and because of that there is no national vision.’

Why do you think we have not been able to see ourselves as a nation?

When we see the types of conflicts all around — religious conflict, caste system, language problems — any big nation will have such types of problems but the nation can be united for a big cause.

Independence was a big cause that united us. That’s why I am pushing this idea that the tool for India Vision 2020 is Providing Urban Amenities to Rural Areas. This way we can enhance village development. I have talked about all this in my book.

Independence was a common goal that united people, but some would say that India today is more divided than what it was then.

Any nation goes through a number of problems in various decades, but India has the experience of bringing together people on a big cause.

I am a believer.

The second great movement that India needs is India 2020 Vision and this will make people come together. Plus if the economic programme grows, the poverty level will come down.

Only a national vision can lift 300 million — that’s one third of the population — below the poverty line out of poverty.

As one of the co-founders of India’s space programme, you must be very proud of our Mars achievement. But at the same time when you say that we have to lift the large masses that remain poor, should not basic needs like healthcare, education, infrastructure precede loftier goals or at least go hand in hand?

The space programme is targeted at uplifting the people. In geosynchronised orbit, more than 200 transponders are communicating to the Indian earth station.

These transponders transmit communication, weather reports, 24 hour TV broadcast, the path of cyclones.

All the recent major cyclones have been forecast by various satellites. 90 per cent of the space programme is for remote sensing and communication. You can remote sense what is the kind of wealth we have on earth like water, minerals etc — so it is intended for the people. 90 per cent of the space programme is intended for the people. It is a people’s programme.

You asked about the Moon and Mars programme. We are spending less than 10 per cent of our space programme for finding and research on Moon and Mars so that we are partners in the research and no one can claim that it belongs to them. I don’t want to see Moon and Mars as the property of some other nation. It should be international property.

Ours is the lowest cost of going to the Moon or Mars and we found trace of water also on the moon. From Mars we don’t know… some revolutionary ideas will come from our Mars programme.

What kind of a leader was Vikram Sarabhai, the founder of India’s Space programme?

When you read this book Forge Your Future, you will know how to become a unique person. It contains the experience of great thinkers and doers. Dr Vikram Sarabhai was a unique personality.

He was a visionary. In 1970 he gave a report about what the nation’s space programme should be for the next 20 years.

What according to you are India’s greatest strengths?

One is our farmer community. Whatever weather condition, whatever shortfall — they will give us 200 million tones of food.

Hats off to our farmers and our agriculture scientists!

Second is youth power. No other democratic nation has 600 million youth. The ignited mind of the youth is the most powerful resource — on the earth, above the earth, under the earth — and we have that.

Third, just like every family asks the government for an economically developed nation; every family has the responsibility to give a great citizen to the nation.

We have 200 million families. Parents have the responsibility to make their children righteous — where there is righteousness in the heart, there is beauty in the character.

Only three people can give a good citizen before s/he turns 17. Father, mother, the spiritual environment and the primary school teacher.

You mention women like Marie Curie and Sister Antonia as role models. Who are some contemporary Indian women role models you admire?

I have great respect for Dr V Shanta, for her contribution towards cancer diagnosis, treatment and teaching how to avoid cancer. I admire the mission of Ela Bhatt, founder of the Self-Employed Women’s Association of India and, of course my favourite, whom I respect because I like Carnatic music — M S Subbulakshmi. I love her music.

When she was alive, I used to go to her music festival.

President A P J Abdul Kalam

You say in the book that India needs to cast off its inferiority complex vis-a-vis China and work towards coming together to become a master civilisation because together they constitute 37% of the world’s population.

How can this be achieved in the background of the tension, hostility and border incursions?

I remember in April 2007, I addressed the European Parliament. There were around 800 parliament members from 23 nations.

I told them when I see you all — for hundreds of years you were fighting each other and you generated two World Wars, so a billion Indian people congratulate you. Forgetting all your wars, forgetting the difference of society, you formed a European Union for prosperity and peace.

This should be an example. I had composed a poem and recited it there. They gave a standing ovation.

That is not the issue, the issue is that such nations that created World War I and II, when they came together, we — China and India — are a people of great civilisation, in spite of all the differences, there are some great philosophy that is common.

Buddha and Confucius are common to us.

I believe we have to have a great mission. I suggested when the Chinese president came here that we have a World Knowledge Platform. I teach at the University of Beijing, I told them the time has come that both nations should combine our core competence, our 60 billion dollar business, should become 250 billion dollars.

The border issue we should sort out once for all. People of the European Union fought for hundreds of years, a people who generated two World Wars and Hitler and lost millions of people are a union today for economic growth and peace and it happened in front of our eyes.

So for me the differences between nations can be solved by mutual discussions.

Both sides should decide what we can give and what we cannot. It should be an intensive one month discussion with experts and we should sort it out. I hope the present governments in India and China will do that.

What are your thoughts on the present government?

We are getting into politics, next question!

I just asked your thoughts…

Any elected government will perform in five years. We have to give time.

You believe social media affected the results in 30 to 40 per cent Lok Sabha constituencies. How will social media and the Internet affect future elections?

Social media and the type of information flow should have credibility. It reaches fast. It connects people. It is one of the important mediums for putting forth ideas, thoughts and discussing problems.

In India, we also need contact on the ground, but in the future I see that you can sit in your home with a biometric signature and security approved and you can vote. That way you will have 100 per cent voting. It is a long way off, but I visualise it.

Selection of the candidates will also follow an electronic process — to determine if s/he is a good or bad candidate, how many cases s/he has etc. This will happen, it is only a question of time.

Archana Masih/Rediff.com in New Delhi 

Source….From The Archives of  www.rediff.com