Skip to main content

Dr APJ Abdul Kalam No More; Breathes His Last in Shillong

apj abdul kalam
 There would never be another Kalam.
A larger-than-life figure, the true son of the soil, the Missile Man, the most positive Indian, the best teacher the country will ever produce, a multi-talented personality, a notable scientist, a hero for many, a symbol of meritocratic India, the people's president, a statesman, a humble person, and the list of titles is endless for this noble soul, whose every breath was dedicated to the country's development, growth, and progress.

With a focus on nation building and developing young minds, Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam remained committed to working for the country. His list of contributions for the country is endless. A real gem of India, the Bharat Ratna,Dr Kalam is no more. His 2020 vision for India was his biggest dream and he was working toward that end ever since the completion of his term at the Rashtrapati Bahwan.
I am no person to talk about such a personality who inspired generations of Indians and was a role model for most of the present generation. We are lucky to have been born in this period, which witnessed the rise of such a personality, who has left behind a legacy for us all.

My heart cries out for you - a forever smiling face, the noblest of souls, the smartest of scientists, a legendary figure, a father-like personality, a light in darkness, a symbol of simplicity, the nation's pride, the true son of the soil, the people's president, a statesman par excellence, a nation builder beyond dividing lines, a teacher for billions, an indomitable spirit, a courageous human being ......

RIP Dr. Kalam. You will be forever remembered. Your sudden demise has come as a shock for the nation, which was trying to come to terms with the Gurdaspur terror attack. So much to say but no words.
We have become poorer by losing a real gem like you.

July 27th was a black day for the country !!

Was on a Visit to Shillong
Dr. Kalam collapsed while addressing a group of students at IIM Shillong. The former president of India had traveled to Shillong the same day. The 83-year-old became the president of India in 2002. During his presidential term, he came closer to the masses - closer than any other president has ever tried to connect with ordinary people.

Even during his last moments, he was doing what he loved best - delivering a lecture to students on a livable planet.

On his last day while conversing with Srijan Pal Singh, Dr. Kalam expressed his concern over the frequent pandemonium in parliament, worrying why the supreme institution of democracy was dysfunctional time and again.
He wanted to ask suggestions from IIM Shillong students (who he was going to address) as to how to improve this worrying situation.
Though he could never share his concern with the students, it has surely left us all to wonder how nationalistic this amazing human being was even at the last minutes of his life.
I am also left wondering whether the leaders and politicians, who are paying rich tributes to the People's President, will actually take a lesson from what was hurting Dr. Kalam the most, since they are the ones who are behind all the ruckus in parliament.
How many of our politicians are listening?
Shillong & Dr. Kalam

Dr Kalam was a guest faculty at IIM Shillong for over two years!  The 11th president of India, Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam was born in Rameswaram in Tamil Nadu in a fishing family. His life has been full of hardships since the beginning until he went on to become the president of the country.

He came close to accomplishing his dream of becoming a fighter pilot, but missed it, as he was placed ninth in qualifiers, while there were only eight positions available in the IAF.

He specialized in Aeronautical Engineering and made significant contribution as Project Director in developing India's first indigenous Satellite Launch Vehicle (SLV-III). With the successful launch of the Rohini satellite in the near earth orbit made India an exclusive member of Space Club in 1980.

After receiving threats from his Dean that he would revoke his scholarship if he didn't perform well at the project, Dr. Kalam came out with flying colors and impressed everyone. An otherwise average student in school, APJ Kalam went on to the highest echeleons of Indian politics to become the 11th president of India in 2002. 

He started his career designing a small helicopter in Indian Army.
In 2012, the people's president of India launched a program for the youth of India -  What Can I Give Movement. The theme of the program focused on defeating corruption. He was also an illustrious author, a notable poet, and a visionary who dreamed of taking India to the heights of glory.

The prime focus of his 2020 vision for India is on striving to make the country developed by that year.

"He was responsible for the evolution of ISRO's launch vehicle programme, particularly the PSLV configuration. After working for two decades in ISRO and mastering launch vehicle technologies, Dr. Kalam took up the responsibility of developing Indigenous Guided Missiles at Defence Research and Development Organisation as the Chief Executive of Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme (IGMDP). He was responsible for the development and operationalisation of AGNI and PRITHVI Missiles and for building indigenous capability in critical technologies through networking of multiple institutions. He was the Scientific Adviser to Defence Minister and Secretary, Department of Defence Research & Development from July 1992 to December 1999. During this period he led to the weaponisation of strategic missile systems and the Pokhran-II nuclear tests in collaboration with Department of Atomic Energy, which made India a nuclear weapon State. He also gave thrust to self-reliance in defence systems by progressing multiple development tasks and mission projects such as Light Combat Aircraft." (courtesy:

Dr. Kalam has the distinction of receiving honorary doctorates from 30 universities and institutions. The list of coveted civilian awards include

  • Padma Bhushan (1981) 
  • Padma Vibhushan (1990) 
  • Bharat Ratna (1997)

Here are the chain of events that happened on that D-Day in the words of Sri Jan Pal Singh, Dr Kalam's personal secretary (taken from his Facebook message)

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.
Your indebted student,
Srijan Pal Singh"

The country loves Kalam

kalam thoughts
The love for Kalam is overwhelming and outpouring. India loves Kalam. Indians love Kalam. A life well led by example.  No salute will be enough for this son of the soil, whose lifetime achievements are too many to be retold. A great, dedicated teacher, Dr Kalam remained the true son of Mother India until the very end.

Coming from a humble background, Dr. Kalam's thoughts/quotes are an inspiration for us all.

"If you fail, never give up because FAIL means First Attempt In Learning."
"END is not the end, but in fact, it means Effort Never Dies"
"If you get No as an answer, remember N.O. means Next Opportunity."
"The best brains of the country may be found on the last benches of the classroom."
"To succeed in your mission, you must have single-minded devotion to your goal"
Dr Kalam's definition of a birthday is "The only day when your mother smiled when you cried."
"Confidence and hard work is the best medicine to kill a disease called failure."
"One best book is equal to hundred good friends. But one good friend is equal to a library."
"You cannot change your future, but you can change your habits. Your habits will change your future."


Popular posts from this blog

Can we use the soaked water for millets? Does millet need to be soaked?

Do millets contain anti-nutrients? Yes, they do. In fact, all whole grains, including oats, contain phytates, which bind to minerals and make their absorption difficult for the body. Soaking is the first step toward reducing anti-nutrients from millets. Soak for at least 6-8 hours to make digestion easier. Discard the soaked water and then proceed to the next step of cooking. Remove foam from top to reduce gassy elements from millets.  How long should millet be soaked before cooking? Soaking the millets overnight is a safe practice. Soaking breaks down the phytic acid in millets or for that matter grains and nuts. Phytic acid hinders the absorption of minerals and nutrients in food, including calcium, iron, and zinc. How? Phytates bind to minerals and nutrients and make their absorption difficult in the gut. Your tummy finds it tough to digest millets in that case. So soaking millets and draining off that soaked water makes it easier on your tummy.  Are millets safe for thyroid? Does

How To Make Jowar Roti Without Breaking With Rolling Pin at Home [Sorghum Flour Recipes\Benefits]

Is Jowar good for weight loss? Is Jowar better than wheat? Is Jowar good in summer? Is Jowar good for thyroid? Is Jowar better than Bajra? Can Jowar be eaten everyday? Well, these are some of the most common questions people ask about sorghum flour. Well, sorghum benefits health in more ways than one. First, if you are wondering how to make jowar roti without breaking with a rolling pin at home, let's dig into it and see how to do that easily. The method I follow for making soft, fluffy jowar rotis came up in my mind after my successful trial of ragi jowar chocos at home. I was making sorghum flour chapati earlier as well. Back then, I would struggle to gather the dough and it would often break. But this method has been a revelation of its own. I am happy to share it with you all.  Jowar is heat or cold  Jowar or sorghum has a cold potency so that means you can enjoy it during summers as a coolant. I won't mind enjoying jowar or sorghum flour recipes during winters too because

Dhokla Without Curd

Dhokla needs no introduction. The super easy recipe makes a great snack, loved by young and old and kids.I never loved dhokla until I prepared this delicious Gujarati snack myself. I had to try it since hubby loves dhokla. dhokla Recipe 1 cup besan (gram flour) 1 tbsp - lemon juice a pinch of haldi little water 1 tsp -Ginger Paste  2 tsp - Eno Fruit Salt Salt to taste Add turmeric and water to gram flour. The batter should not be flowy. Keep aside for 20 minutes. Add 1 tsp of lemon juice, ginger paste, salt . Mix well. Grease a mould for steaming the dhokla. Add eno just before steaming. Pour the batter in the steamer. Keep it for steaming for 20 mins. (Keep an eye on the batter) Tempering: Oil - 1 tsp Mustard Seeds - 1 tsp Green Chilli - 1 tsp Salt - as per taste Sugar - 1 tsp Lime Juice - 1 tsp Few Curry Leaves 1 cup of water Coriander Leaves for garnishing Heat oil in a pan, add mustard seeds. When mustard splutters, add curry leaves. Add wate