Former President of India, Dr APJ Abdul Kalam died yesterday in Shillong due to a cardiac arrest. He was 84 years old. Dr Kalam was one of the most popular and most learned presidents of India.
Dr Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam was born in Rameswaram, Tamil Nadu on October 15, 1931, to a boatman. He studied physics and aerospace engineering. He spent the next four decades as a scientist and science administrator, mainly at Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), and was intimately involved in the India's civilian space programme and military missile development efforts. For his seminal role in the latter, he became known as ‘Missile Man of India.’ He also played a pivotal role in India's Pokhran-II nuclear test in 1998, the first such tests by India since the ones in 1974.
For his brilliant achievements, he was awarded all of India’s top awards – Padma Bhushan in 1981, Padma Vibhushan in 1990 and finally, Bharat Ratna in 1997. He became the 11th President of India in 2002, and remained so till 2007. He was one of the most popular presidents of India.
He was a well-known and inspiring public speaker and writer. From the time he left the presidency in 2007 till date, he delivered over 300 lectures at various fora all over India, many of them in educational institutions. He inspired lakhs of students and youths all over the country through his talks. He wrote 15 books, most of which were bestsellers, including India 2020: A Vision for the New Millennium, Wings of Fire: An Autobiography and Ignited Minds: Unleashing the Power Within India. Along the way, he also found time to write Tamil poetry and learned to play the veena.
The well-known motivator of youth that he was, it is perhaps fitting that he died immediately after finishing his lecture at the Indian Institute of Management, Shillong.
His books and lectures are full of nuggets of wisdom. Here is a list of some of his best quotations:
Thinking should become your capital asset, no matter whatever ups and downs you come across in your life.
Thinking is progress. Non-thinking is stagnation of the individual, organisation and the country. Thinking leads to action. Knowledge without action is useless and irrelevant. Knowledge with action converts adversity into prosperity.
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.
Educationists should build the capacities of the spirit of inquiry, creativity, entrepreneurial and moral leadership among students and become their role model.
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.
When you speak, speak the truth; perform when you promise; discharge your trust... Withhold your hands from striking, and from taking that which is unlawful and bad.
What actions are most excellent? To gladden the heart of a human being, to feed the hungry, to help the afflicted, to lighten the sorrow of the sorrowful and to remove the wrongs of injured.
Man needs his difficulties because they are necessary to enjoy success.
Those who cannot work with their hearts achieve but a hollow, half-hearted success that breeds bitterness all around.
Be more dedicated to making solid achievements than in running after swift but synthetic happiness.
Earlier, on our website, we had features an interview of Dr Kalam by well-known quizmaster and Member of Parliament in the Rajya Sabha, Derek O’Brien.
On August 8 and August 16, 2013, we had also featured extracts from his then unreleased book, My Journey: Transforming Dreams into Actions (with kind permission from Rupa Publications India). Here are the links to those two excerpts
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