A scientist associate's tribute to APJ Abdul Kalam

He would pick rookies with talent, ignite their young minds with expectations and drive them to give their best efforts.

 |  2-minute read |   29-07-2015
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Thirty three years is a good time for a pupil to understand his mentor, the type of relationship that I enjoyed with Dr APJ Abdul Kalam. From his subordinate scientist developing missile systems to a technology manager developing civilian spinoffs of defence technology and finally his co-author and speechwriter, it has been a blessed journey and its sudden end on July 27, 2015 is naturally shattering.

Three facets of Dr Kalam's persona emerge when I hesitantly accept the reality that he is gone from this world and attempt a crystallisation of a hazy flux of experiences, assumptions and delusions.

First, and foremost, I see Dr Kalam as a champion of underdogs. He would pick rookies with talent, ignite their young minds with expectations, and drive them to give their best efforts but also mercilessly pitch them against status quo stalwarts and enjoy the evolutionary drama of adaptation and mutation.

Then I see Dr Kalam the saint. A pious man with disciplined mind and in total control of his senses. He is free from all the three poisons of mind, namely greed, aversion and lethargy. He rolls out a four-fold strategy for youth - set a high goal, acquire knowledge, do hardwork and show perseverance.

Finally, I see Dr Kalam as a dreamer. He was a master of connecting dots and transcending boundaries. He dreamt the life of an air force pilot watching seagulls in Rameswaram Island and having failed to become one pursue a career in aeronautical engineering leading to space and then guided missiles, UAVs and hyper planes.

He left no trace of the arch of his wings on the sky but a great example of daring to fly. He defeated temptations and never allowed favours for friends compromising good decision-making. He will forever be remembered as a great Saint-scientist. If Einstein coined the phrase "Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind" famous; Kalam created his own axiom of "Let my brain remove your pain." Compassion has been his supreme virtue and helping the needy his greatest duty. I have been blessed to work in the shadow of a peerless icon of modern India.


Arun Tiwari Arun Tiwari

The writer is a close scientist associate of Dr APJ Abdul Kalam. Also the co-author of Wings of Fire and four others, including Transendence.

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