Tuesday, 28 July 2015

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A Tribute...

This is NOT a comment, although the larger heading says so. Like everyone else, I wanted to pay a humble tribute to the man of the stars and the man of the people.

I don’t know how to start this. I wanted to write something the moment my phone pinged and I read the newsflash. No title and no opening lines seem to befit the man - the national icon - the trailblazer - the rock star of science. I knew the moment the news of the demise reached us, social media would be fraught with messages, condolences and eulogies by one and all. And not one individual would have a bitter thing to say about the Missile Man, the Students' Ideal, the People's President, the man who revamped Indian astronomy.

Could we call him the Carl Sagan of India? Perhaps. But Mr. Kalam was in a class of his own. He had his characteristic coiffure, his simple and high ideals, his untiring efforts and dedication towards his domain of work. He was the quintessential Indian scientist. Of the likes of CV Raman, Susruta and JC Bose. He wore many hats- those of a thinker, philosopher, teacher, author and many such, elegantly and admirably so. When the name is APJ Abdul Kalam, one, whoever that one be, can’t help feeling a tinge of pride and a surge of inspiration. No barriers of caste, class or religion come to mind. Only the inspiring man with a humble background and an illustrious life. The son of a fisherman, who ferried Hindu pilgrims ashore, Mr. Kalam's life story is more surreal and beautiful than a carefully written piece of fiction. It seems as if each detail of his life had been intricately carved so as to inspire millions with its simplicity and greatness.

The 11th President of India, the Padma Bhushan, Padma Vibhushan and the Bharat Ratna awardee, Mr. Kalam is forever alive via his views, quotes, ideas and messages. In 2005, Switzerland declared May 26 as 'Science Day' to commemorate Dr Kalam’s visit to the European country. With his ardent devotion and his vision for ‘India 2020’, he took the country on space missions and missile launches, on unprecedented advancements in technology and on projects of the skies and the heavens. We are proud to have had a scientist president. How many countries can boast of that?

Mr. Kalam’s recent publication- ‘Transcendence…’ had barely hit the book stands; he was elucidating the concept of a ‘pure planet’ to the students of IIM - Shillong when a massive cardiac arrest struck him and cut short his worldly voyage. The loss couldn't be greater and couldn't be more greatly felt. The man had a lot of life left in him. 

As I closed my eyes during the minutes of silence observed at my workplace on the death of the great man, I wondered that this man of the stars has reached his stars today. When Oct 15 dawns this year as the sixth World Students’ Day and the first one sans his presence, we hope that many such Kalams are born. It’s a fitting tribute to the man with 'wings of fire'.

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