You are on page 1of 4



Friday 31 July 2015

by Vivek Kumar Srivastava
Because I could not stop for Death
He kindly stopped for me
The Carriage held but just Ourselves
And Immortality Emily Dickinson
Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalams death was sudden, shocking and sad for the reason
that the country lost a man who was really true, honest, literally simplicity
incarnated and a darling of all Indians. He was a man of high scholarship and
attained the zenith of achievements though he was born in a simple family.
His great values were shaped by the rich family traditions where the concept
of a broad and inclusive family was the order of the day; this is rarely seen in
the contemporary globali-sation-impacted society. He recollected his days of
infancy in his autobiography. He elaborated: My father, Jainulabdeen, had
neither much formal education nor much wealth; despite these
disadvantages, he possessed great innate wisdom and a true generosity of
spirit. He had an ideal helpmate in my mother, Ashiamma. I do not recall the
exact number of people she fed every day, but I am quite certain that far
more outsiders ate with us than all the members of our own family put

(Wings of Fire: An Autobiography)
His father was a boatman. He proved that hard work with a single objective
is the ultimate recipe of realising goals. India has maximum potential of
demographic dividend but it can be realised only if young Indians adopt his
work culture and concept of focused goal. He believed that everyone has

certain talent, a combination of talent and effort determines the quality of

human life. The origin of talent and the source that inspire effort remains a
matter of mystery. Different cultures offer different rationales. (You Are Born
To Blossom) He proclaimed that self-realisation is the focus. Each one of us
must become aware of our higher self. We are links of a great past to a grand
future. We should ignite our dormant inner energy and let it guide our
lives. (Ignited Minds: Unleashing the Power within India)
In his opinion, work culture of high quality is necessary to accomplish the
task at hand. All generations must understand that at the 21st century
workplace, no needs or expectations of the generation have a monopoly.
Everyone must be flexible, techno-savvy and knowled-geable, focusing on
getting great work done every day. Consider yourself a free agent,
responsible for your life, career, family and contributions.(You Are Born To
Blossom) Thus individualism was linked to knowledge, it was also linked to
communitari-anism as his own life radiated. His post-retirement life, like that
of Mohan Dharia, shows how a man after demitting political office, can
contribute to the development of the country.
Dr Kalam was an embodiment of secularism. He was a practitioner of all the
good values of every religion. He represented our composite culture in daily
life, even worshipped Ma Saraswati, the Goddess of Knowledge. Compassion, divine purity and respect to all was reflected in his actions. Its seeds
were sown in his childhood. He discovered its basis. The high priest of
Rameswaram temple, Pakshi Lakshmana Sastry, was a very close friend of
my fathers. One of the most vivid memories of my early childhood is of the
two men, each in his traditional attire, discussing spiritual matters. When I
was old enough to ask questions, I asked my father about the relevance of
prayer. My father told me there was nothing mysterious about prayer. Rather,
prayer made possible a communion of the spirit between people. When you
pray, he said, you transcend your body and become a part of the cosmos,
which knows no division of wealth, age, caste, or creed. (Wings of Fire: An
His major contribution in science lies in the development of Agni and other
missiles, the first indigenous Satellite Launch Vehicle-III and in the
enhancement of the countrys nuclear capability. As a President he had no
political experience but looked at every issue with his independent, fearless
mind and great acumen. He took his own line on the issue of office of profit.

On the mercy petition he asked for reconsideration in almost fifty cases

except one showing that he was in support of abolition of the death penalty.
He rhetorically asked why there were only poor people on death row.
(Hindustan Times,July 28, 2015) He conceptualised the Provision of Urban
Amenities in Rural Areas (PURA), a rural social-transfor-mation framework
and identified the missing link in rural development programmes. He inferred
that rural development is not at all a loss-making proposition. What is lossmaking is poor implementationbut then that holds true for any type of
initiative at any place in the world. (Target 3 Billion: PURA: Innovative
Solutions Towards Sustain-able Development)
His love for children is well known. Like Nehru, he expressed his love in an
open and concrete manner for the blossoming ones. He merged his I with
THEM when he revealed that It had been in my mind for the past few years
to undertake research and teaching. For this purpose, combined with my
desire to find time to meet schoolchildren, I have shifted to Anna University
my alma mater. What a great feeling it is to be among young people
bubbling with creativity and enthusiasm! What a great responsibility the
elders of this country have at hand to guide this tremendous energy in a
constructive way for nation building! How can we make up for missed
opportunities and the failures of the past? (Ignited Minds: Unleashing the
Power within India) Thus he placed responsibility on the previous generations
too.He also gave message to parents and almost proposed a new model of
teaching in which free thinking and imagination was emphasised. dream,
dream, dream. Dream transforms into thoughts. Thoughts result in actions. I
told them, Friends, if there are no dreams, there are no revolu-tionary
thoughts; if there are no thoughts, no actions will emanate. Hence, parents
and teachers should allow their children to dream. Success always follows
dreams attempted though there may be some setbacks and delays.(Ignited
Minds: Unleashing the Power within India) His conviction was that no greater
power can exist than the commitment to dream.
Dr Kalam was the embodiment of a philo-sopher-king as conceptualised by
Plato. Dr Radhakrishnan was another one in this galaxy. Indian politicians can
learn a lot from these philosopher-politicians. Both were intellectuals par
excellence and entered the political stream but never lost the great universal
values. Politicians can also learn that lust for money and power cannot be

the ultimate goal. Kalam, on the pattern of Lohia, represented this path of
salvation. Therefore they will always live in each succeeding generation.
Dr Vivek Kumar Srivastava is the Vice-Chairman, CSSP, Kanpur. He can be
contacted also in the
From Mainstream, VOL LIII No 32 New Delhi August 1, 2015