Remembering Abdul Kalam on his third death anniversary

By A Harsha Vardhan Published on Jul 27, 2018 04:05 PM IST

Chennai: The entire nation wept on this day three years back when the man who taught millions of youngsters to reach for the skies, took to the sky himself one last time - A P J Abdul Kalam.

Millions of shops and offices that are forced to down shutters out of fear of riots when politicians die, shut their businesses willingly on this day out of love and respect for the great man.

Today, 'News Today' examines a few incidents and lines from the huge library of teachings that Abdul Kalam's life has given us.

Taking Kaniyan Poongundranar to Europe

For someone from India, even more so for someone from Tamilnadu in south India, it was a moment of great pride to hear Kaniyan Poongundranar's 3,000-year-old famous quote- 'Yaadhum oorey yaavarum kelir' (I am a world citizen. Every citizen in this world is my kith and kin) in Kalam's voice echoing inside the halls of the European Parliament in France, during the golden jubilee of the European Union.

After quoting Poongundranar, Kalam passed an impassioned plea for world peace to all humanity through a poem he wrote:

"Where there is righteousness in the heart

There is beauty in the character.

When there is beauty in the character,

There is harmony in the home.

When there is harmony in the home,

There is order in the nation.

When there is order in the nation,

There is peace in the world.’

As the entire Parliament stood up to offer a standing ovation, the President of the European Union stood up and proclaimed that this was the most extraordinary speech that the European Parliament had heard. He said, "Coming from a President, poet, nuclear scientist and a senior statesman, this is unique."

Taught a nation to dream

Who can forget these most famous quotes by Abdul Kalam, "Dream is not that which you see while sleeping; it is something that does not let you sleep," and "Dream, dream, dream. Dreams transform into thoughts and thoughts result in action."

With these words that would resonate for ages, Kalam inspired millions in the nation.

Many great leaders had asked us to dream and reach for the stars, but coming from Kalam, a small town boy from a humble background in Rameswaram, it was suddenly more relatable for the youngsters in India.

His rise to become a rocket scientist and ultimately the President of India is a dream that Kalam showed could be made possible with the right spirit and hard work.

Epitome of humility

Once during a convocation at IIT Varanasi, when Kalam was the President, he was invited to be the chief guest. The organisers had set up five chairs on the stage, the centre one being a bit grander for the President. The other four were designated for the top university officials.

What happened next was one of the several instances where Kalam's actions became synonymous with his simplicity and humility that was the hallmark of his public life.

Noticing his chair being bigger in size than the others, Kalam refused to sit on it and reportedly asked the University's Vice Chancellor to sit there as he was the 'boss' of the place.

If we look back at the past to find people who inspire generations and entire nations to greatness, it would be hard to gaze past the towering stature of Abdul Kalam from recent memory.

Arguably, no one had conquered the hearts of the people of this country of multiple ethnicity as much as the People's President himself and, these incidents and quotes prove just that.