Shillong: The People’s President passes away with his boots on…
Former President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, widely acclaimed as the “people’s President”, passed away during a lecture at the Indian Institute of Management in Shillong. Ironically and tragically, he was going to be speaking on the topic “Making the world more Liveable”.
At around 6.30 pm, just as Dr Kalam had clicked past the first two slides at IIM Shillong, he collapsed — 75 minutes later, it was official. “All efforts were made but Dr A P J Abdul Kalam could not be revived,” the Bethany Hospital said in a statement. His last words were to a soldier who had enquired, as Dr. Kalam alighted from the car ” are you well sir?”
“I am fine, thank you! ” Dr. Kalam had replied, shaking the man’s hands.
Mr. Kalam (83), who was President between 2002 and 2007, took the lead in the conduct of India’s nuclear tests in May 1998 and was later fielded as the National Democratic Alliance candidate by then Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee. In a country growing young, President Kalam’s rise from a lab to the scientific establishment to Rashtrapati Bhavan had earned him the title Missile Man no doubt, but no one could doubt that he was a man of peace.
One of his most famous quotations was:”Look at the sky. We are not alone. The whole universe is friendly to us and conspires only to give the best to those who dream and work”
He also believed “. If a country is to be corruption free and become a nation of beautiful minds, I strongly feel there are three key societal members who can make a difference. They are the father, the mother and the teacher.”
Dr. Kalam redefined the Presidency, and with his frugal living and high thinking made the Rashtrapati Bhawan a place where intellectuals, common people and specially children could visit and be made to feel at home.
He was a Scientist par excellence, but he was much more than that as a human being. He made even sports persons feel cherished, respected and encouraged with his presence and his attitude to them. I have seen Doctors and Physicians of world renown behave like kids with their favorite film star in his presence!
This great but humble man, kept living in the national limelight even after he had stopped being the President: in our collective hearts we did not give his place to any successor. He, too continued with his work of inspiring and motivating not just Indians but the world community at large.
Finally, he literally died with his boots on! What more could a Karmayogi like him want?
Let us pay tribute to him by remembering his message to youth:
My message, especially to young people is to have courage to think differently, courage to invent, to travel the unexplored path, courage to discover the impossible and to conquer the problems and succeed. These are great qualities that they must work towards. This is my message to the young people.