Kalam, tujhey Salam, by Lakshmi Kaul

‘The sudden passing of former President of India, APJ Abdul Kalam is a loss not only to India, but to the whole world,’ says Lakshmi Kaul.


A great scientist and a visionary politician, Kalam grew up in poverty and hardship. He valued hard work and aspiration, and he lived his life with simplicity and humility. He breathed his last doing what he loved doing the most – speaking to students.

Srijan Pal Singh, former aide to Kalam was with him until the end. The former President was on a visit to Shillong (capital city of Meghalaya in North Eastern Indian) where he delivered a lecture on “Livable Planet Earth”. While on his way to the university, Kalam urged his staff to make sure that he would arrive on time. “Students should never be made to wait,” he told Singh. During his talk, he urged the students to do something about the increasing levels of pollution affecting the environment as it is “your world to live in”.

The global mourning of Kalam’s passing is certain testimony to the value of his many years of dedicated service. Street children, students and world leaders alike have offered condolences and paid personal tributes to this great humanitarian, the ‘people’s President’.

A believer in progress and development, Kalam wrote extensively about how India could develop into a “knowledge superpower”. His autobiography, Wings of Fire, and his book on the development of India, Ignited Minds, are among the many he wrote during his life time.

As millions mourn the former President’s death and National holiday has been declared in India, I can’t help but to wonder: what would Mr Kalam have wanted us to do? His vision for India as outlined in Wings of Fire was simple yet forceful: Freedom, Development and Strength. He asked India to stand up to the world and to build on freedom with responsibility. We feel proud to be free and we speak highly of our ‘choices’, but we often forget that with the freedom to choose comes a greater responsibility to ourselves, our families, our country and the world we live in.

For me, personally, the only way to pay him a tribute is to practice what he lived all his life for. A life that did not believe in mourning but in looking beyond. He may live on, if only we let him!

In his words: “do not declare a holiday on my death, work an extra day if you love me”.

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A.P.J. Abdul Kalam Quotes

“Failure will never overtake me if my definition to succeed is strong enough.”

“Don’t take rest after your first victory because if you fail in second, more lips are waiting to say that your first victory was just luck.”

“Man needs difficulties in life because they are necessary to enjoy the success.”

“I feel comfortable in the company of young people, particularly high school students. Henceforth, I intend to share with them experiences, helping them to ignite their imagination and preparing them to work for a developed India for which the road map is already available.”

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Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi:

BHARAT has lost a Ratna, but the light from this jewel will guide us towards A P J Abdul Kalam’s dream-destination: India as a knowledge superpower, in the first rank of nations. Our scientist-President -and one who was genuinely loved and admired across the masses – never measured success by material possessions.”

“His character, commitment and inspirational vision shine through his life. He was unencumbered by ego; flattery left him cold. He was equally at ease before an audience of suave, globe-trotting ministers and a class of young students. The first thing that struck one about him was that, uniquely, he combined the honesty of a child with the energy of a teenager and the maturity of an adult.”

Prime Minister Modi also wrote that Dr. Kalam took little from the world and gave all he could to society. “A man of deep faith, he epitomised the three great virtues of our civilization: dama, self-restraint; dana, sacrifice; and daya, compassion. But this persona was powered by the fire of endeavour. His vision for the nation was anchored in freedom, development and strength. Given our history, freedom had a political context of course; but it also included freedom of the mind and expansion of intellectual space. He wanted India to leap out of the under-developed trough, and eliminate the curse of poverty through inclusive economic growth.”

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