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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2961

End of era of a patriotic phenomenon called Bharat Ratna Dr. Abdul Kalam!

By Dr. Abdul Ruff

Former Indian president Dr. Abdul Kalam, who passed away upon accomplishing his life mission, is a historic phenomenon. Born in Muslim fishermen family (Marakkar) and sold newspapers to add to his father’s income, Kalam rose to become first ever poor citizen to decorate Indian presidential palace (Rashtrapati Bhawan).

The final journey of a great Indian by name APJ Abdul Kalam who died on July 27 of cardiac arrest in Shillong while giving a lecture to students of the IIM (Indian Institute of Management) in Shillong took place in his home town Rameswaram, Tamilnadu. He was 83. People flock to the funeral procession of former president APJ Abdul Kalam to pay last respects. Sea of people of India bid a grand farewell to their beloved president who was buried with military salutations, including a 21-gun salute.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi led nation in offering last respects to Bharat Ratna Kalam at Rameswaram. PM Modi, Tamil Nadu Governor K. Rosaiah, Chief Ministers of neighbouring States, Union Ministers, and State Ministers were among thousands who took part in the funeral. After a guard of honour given by the tri-forces, the Prime Minister laid a wreath and paid his last respects to the 11th President of the country. He was followed by Rosaiah, Union Ministers Venkaiah Naidu, Manohar Parikkar and MoS Pon. Radhakrishnan. Later, Tamil Nadu Ministers, led by Finance Minister, O. Pannerselvam, paid a floral tribute on behalf of the State Government as the indisposed Chief Minister Jayalalithaa could not attend the funeral. Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi and former Union Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad also paid their respects. Kalam’s elder brother, 98-year-old A.P.J. Maraikkayar, was present on the occasion.

Defence personnel of the tri-services formally handed over the body to the relatives of Kalam. After a series of rituals and prayers, the body was interned in the cemetry amidst shouting of slogan “Bharat Matha Ki Jai,” by thousands of mourners who attended the funeral at Pei Karumbu along Madurai highway.

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa did not participate in the funeral as she, the state government said, is not well, but she sent seven ministers. Kerala Governor N. Sadasivam, Chief Ministers Siddharamaiah of Karnataka, N. Chandrababu Naidu of Andhra Pradesh, and Oommen Chandy of Kerala, his predecessor, V.S. Achuthanandan, Leader of the Opposition in Tamil Nadu Assembly, Vijayakanth, leaders of political parties, E.V.K.S. Elangovan (Congress), G.K. Vasan (Tamil Maanila Congress) and Tamilisai Soundarajan (BJP), R. Anbumani (PMK), Vaiko (MDMK) were among those present.

Earlier the body was brought in a procession from his home, House of Kalam, before rituals were performed in a local mosque. Thousands of people from across the State joined in the last procession of the People's President.

An Air Force helicopter carrying the body of former President APJ Abdul Kalam landed on July 29 in Rameswaram, the Tamil Nadu town where Dr Kalam was born. Union minister M Venkaiah Naidu was among three ministers who accompanied Dr Kalam's body today from Delhi to Madurai in Tamil Nadu and then to Rameswaram.

With the funeral of former President Kalam slated on July 30 in Rameswaram, the Tamil Nadu government has announced a public holiday on that day (Thursday) to private and government educational institutions and establishments under the Negotiable Instruments Act, 1881"as a mark of respect" to the departed soul.

People in Rameswaram in long queues on the sunny day paid their last respects to Dr Kalam at a ground near the bus terminus where his body has been taken now. Hundreds had visited 10 Rajaji Marg, Dr Kalam's Delhi residence, on July 28 to pay tribute to the People's President. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, too, had visited the Delhi bungalow where Dr Kalam lived for the last seven years after leaving the Presidential palace.

Penning his tribute to the 'missile man' and who was felicitated with the highest civilian honour, the Bharat Ratna, PM Modi said, "Bharat has lost a Ratna". "Our scientist-President - and one who was genuinely loved and admired across the masses - never measured success by material possessions. For him, the counterpoint to poverty was the wealth of knowledge, in both its scientific and spiritual manifestations," the Prime Minister said.

PM Modi remembered President Kalam as one who took little from the world, and gave all he could to the society. "Kalamji refused to be defeated by circumstances. His character, commitment and inspirational vision shine through his life. He was unencumbered by ego; flattery left him cold," Modi said.

PM Modi said his profound idealism was secure because it rested on a foundation of realism. President Kalam was "equally at ease before an audience of suave, globe-trotting ministers and a class of young students". Describing him as a "hero" of India's defence, the Prime Minister said his contributions to "our nuclear and space achievements have given India the muscle to be confident of her place in the region and the world."

Tamil superstar Rajinikanth has called Kalam another Mahatma as he feels "blessed enough" to have lived during a time that had a "mahatma" like former president A P J Abdul Kalam. Paying tribute to Kalam, Rajinikanth today said the scientist inspired millions of people with his life and achievements. “I did not have the privilege of seeing our mahatma Gandhiji, Kamaraj or poet Barathiyaar but was blessed enough to live admist Mahatma Kalamji”. Like Dr. Kalam who was a paper boy in Rameswaram, Rajinikanth also, began life earnestly as a bus conductor in Bangalore city and today he is the king of Tamil cinema.

Apart from leading a simple life throughout even while thinking very high, Dr. Kalam was honest statesman and kept the genuine interest of nation above all other considerations. He never went after money and never sought to waste nation’s resources even by foreign tours. This distinguishes Dr. Kalam from other presidents of India.

Like Nehru, the first PM of India, Kalam also was fond of children and roses.

Following are among quotes by the scientist, author and former President Kalam:

1. You have to dream before your dreams can come true.

2. Excellence is a continuous process and not an accident.

3. Life is a difficult game. You can win it only by retaining your birthright to be a person.

4. Man needs his difficulties because they are necessary to enjoy success.

5. We will be remembered only if we give to our younger generation a prosperous and safe India, resulting out of economic prosperity coupled with nationalization heritage.

6. Those who cannot work with their hearts achieve but a hollow, half-hearted success that breeds bitterness all around.

7. Educationists should build the capacities of the spirit of inquiry, creativity, entrepreneurial and moral leadership among students and become their role model.

8. Look at the sky. We are not alone. The whole universe is friendly to us and conspires only to give the best to those who dream and work.

9. 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.

10. 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.

Kalam will be remembered for his engagement with the people - especially children - even after his presidency and the books that he wrote - India 2020 and, of course, igniting minds. "If you want to shine like a sun, first burn like a sun," APJ Abdul Kalam had said in one of his inspirational speeches. He certainly did. It was the role he will probably be most remembered for - a president who brought Rashtrapati Bhavan to the people earning him the tribute of the People's President.

Dr. Kalam was a teacher, mentor, guide, infectiously optimistic; to him there was never an end. Uniqueness was so common to him. He had a voracious appetite for knowledge. The library and reading room occupying half of his 10 Rajaji Marg Road House would be spilling books into bedroom and sometimes right up to the garden. He never departed on a journey without carrying a couple of books in his hand baggage. On the very last day of life he carried books. he line which separated Dr. Kalam from the rest was not just his knowledge. It was his sensitivity and humility. He always introduced everybody as friend — whether it be his secretaries, his driver, his gardener, his cook or the people who maintained his house or even a stranger he just met. He had the gift of empathy – and his memory of other people’s difficulties was impeccable. That was his art of winning over people.

“If you are blessed with intelligence, and empowered with education – it is your responsibility to change the world” - Dr. Kalam told and his greatest faith was the nation and its youth. He trusted the youth, particularly his students, to come up with a solution for these issues. He was an eternal believer in the power of the ignited mind of the youth – which he termed as most powerful, on the earth, above the earth and under the earth. Obviously, blessed are his students.

The house of Kalam at No.10 Rajaji Marg in Delhi is likely to be converted into a Children’s Art Gallery, said Union Urban Development Minister Venkaiah Naidu. After visiting ‘House of Kalam,’ the ancestral house of the former President , Naidu told reporters that Kalam’s family members had expressed the desire that the house be converted into a children’s art gallery and the Centre would take an appropriate decision.

Naidu said a memorial at the site at Pei Karumbu near here where Kalam was laid to rest in Rameswaram would be built to h great son of India. “we can’t take any momentary decision as lot of suggestions were pouring in from various State governments and organisations. A decision will be taken shortly.” Naidu, who is also the Parliamentary Affairs Minister, said that the former President, distressed over the non-functioning of Parliament for the last few months, wanted to discuss the issue. “We politicians should remember the important issue raised by Kalam, adhere to a system and conduct the Parliamentary proceedings in a dignified manner,” Naidu said. Pointing out that more than three lakh people have poured into the island to pay homage to the former President, the Union Minister said this showed that Kalam has a special place in the hearts of Indians.

After Mahatma Gandhi, Kalam had enormous influence on the minds of the people, particularly, the younger generation. People were more attracted to his Vision 2020 and firmly believed that he would lead them to a better future.

Many young Indians swear Kalam would live in the hearts and minds of the youth.

- Asian Tribune -

End of era of a patriotic phenomenon called Bharat Ratna Dr. Abdul Kalam!
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