Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam (1931 - 2015), a great son of India, a glittering jewel of India, Bharata Ratna, is no more.
2003 January Indian Science Congress Annual Conference was jointly hosted by Bangalore University (with me as its Vice Chancellor) and ISRO (with Dr. K Kasturirangan as its Director). 5000 delegates attended the five day Conference that was held at the Jnanabharati Campus. As is customary, the Prime Minister of India, Sri. Atal Bihari Vajpayee at that time, inaugurated the Conference. Dr. A P J Abdul Kalam, the President of India at that time, delivered a special lecture on the third day of the Conference. At the end of his lecture, as he was about to leave the place, he looked searching for somebody, it was me, he just wanted to express his appreciation on how well the arrangement was made, I was thrilled to be part of his blessing that day.
Year 2005, it must be. Inauguration of a multinational funded, first of its kind in the country, Project on Psychooncology aimed at psychological relief for cancer patients at St. John's Hospital Auditorium. The Project was granted with the vision and help of Dr. Abdul Kalam to Dr. Brinda Sitaram. Brinda Sitaram was my student at her Post-graduation, she often used to say and has even written about it that she was inspired to take up Psychology only after hearing a lecture from me in the Institute of World Culture when she was 15 year old. Obviously, she must have told the same to Dr. Kalam. Dr. Kalam had come to St. Johns to inaugurate the project and while he was sitting on the dais, I believe he has asked the Organisers whether the man who inspired Brinda Sitaram is here. I was taken to the dais to receive the greetings from Dr. Kalam. It was indeed another occasion to receive his blessings.
I am often impressed by his writings, his book Ignited minds is one of my favourite. His narrative style and the powerful stories he depicts are at once inspiring and mind expanding, I have often quoted from this book in my lectures.
He was a man of very simple living - sleeping on a simple mat and his favourite dishes being sambar and curds rice. He was a man of total dedication to the cause of the Nation, inspiring people, especially youth with lofty ideals and ideas. His death too was in the midst of the mission he lived all his life: delivering a lecture on Creating a Liveable Planet Earth for the staff and students of IIM, Shillong.
May the departed Soul attain its sadgati, the rightful exalted place.