Monday, August 17, 2015

APJ Abdul Kalam

Only In India 1 0f 10
Vasu Reddy From Chicago

When President Kalam passed away on 25th July 2015, I felt that I lost an uncle.  He suffered a stroke in Shillong, Assam, doing what he loved to do.  Speaking to a gathering of students.  He loved to speak, write, teach, outside having been India’s 11th president.  Before that he was the missile man.  A man of science who spearheaded India’s missile program.

He was a perfect uncle for all of us, a man who was always smiling, always had the time to impart love and wisdom, he was intelligent and brilliant, he worked hard from the days of having a newspaper route as a child to the retired president of India, a writer, public speaker, and everything else you can imagine.  He was a bachelor.  No wonder he would be the best uncle for the nation.  If Bapu was the father of the nation president Kalam was the perfect maternal uncle for Indians.  Here is a man with a suitcase and nothing much else, but love for people.

One of the telling things you notice with the Indians is a pen in their front pocket.  It is a sort of a part of the ward robe with just all politicians and bureaucrats, as is it was with president Kalam.  It means the pen.  It so suited the gentleman.  He wrote a number of books, all of them very simple to read and understand, but extraordinary in content.  He wrote about science, future, experiences, change management, future, spiritual experiences and books for kids.  He was simply full of life and energy and wanted to be available for every one and give to the society his experience and knowledge, above all love for people.

What can only happen in India, Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen "A. P. J." Abdul Kalam, was born in a holy city of Rameshwaram in Tamil Nadu.  Much has been written about him before and after his death, and his accomplishments and his teachings.  His beginnings are as they are with much of our vastly populated and vastly under privileged nation.  Personally I love the story of his paper route as a child to help with some money to help his family.  I share the story of my own paper circulation as an hour a week job at Roosevelt University Torch, when I first came to the USA.  It’s no fun not to have money, and it is fun to do something to earn even a little bit to help folks around you.  The effect of employment at any age, and at any wage is something that has been a part of India’s fabric and culture, although the environmental conditions force the child and women labor.  But a child doing his bit to help mom or dad, is something which is a global fabric.  Kalam was noted for his integrity and his simple lifestyle.  He never owned a television, and was in the habit of rising at 6:30 or 7 AM and sleeping by 2 AM. His few personal possessions included his books, his musical instrument Veen, a few articles of clothing, a CD player and a laptop; at his death, he left no will, and his possessions went to his eldest brother, who survived him.  Here was a man of almost all love and very little needs.  Long before we NRI talk of living on a small budget and working for a living, here was our national leader who practiced it from birth to death, and never worried about what he had, he only worried about what he can give, and give.  The glory of India and its finest is that they do make a whole lot of many things in their life with very little to start with.

The term only India here is not loosely referred to.  Many instances in India's history and achievement lies in the Indian spirit.  We have a history of facing adversity, and history of achievement and a history of giving.  President Kalam is a great example of the only in India, and a great one that will inspire us all for time to come.  RIP President Kalam.

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