Not every day a legend is born but India was certainly lucky to own this gem… alas, until yesterday. Dr APJ Abdul Kalam — the 11th President of India and the visionary, who armed the sub-continent with its first indigenous missile program, died following a cardiac arrest on Monday evening. And even at death, the 83-year-old continued to inspire us with his zest for life, passion for knowledge and self-belief. Seconds before he breathed his last, Kalam was standing amid a packed auditorium at the Indian Institutes of Management (IIM) in Shillong, one of the North Eastern states of India, giving a talk on ‘Livable Planet’ to a bunch of future ‘managers’ of the country.
Revered worldwide for his expertise in introducing cutting edge defense and space technologies to the country that often referred to him as the ‘People’s President’, scientist-turned-Diplomat Kalam’s contributions to India’s satellite programs, guided and ballistic missiles, nuclear weapons and the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) project was nothing short of a dream come true. It earned him accolades not only from those in power across the world but also from the masses, who for the first time celebrated their association with ‘an empowered nation’.
An aeronautic expert of rare acumen, the Bharat Ratna awardee and the man with ‘Wings of Fire’ motivated the nation to dream big, teaching them that dreams can indeed be translated into reality through belief and hard work. We will always remember him as the man who ignited millions of young minds to ‘Unleash the Power Within India’, rather than a politician. RIP Dr Kalam.