Some people claim to greatness by way of saying it, but some people claim to greatness by never having to claim to it.
Dr. Kalam has been talked about as and remains to be the most beloved President of India that the country has ever had. Indeed, he was the only one who could have made the unfathomable transition from being the Missile Man of India to becoming the People’s President, two roles which were poles apart, and yet he excelled at both of them in his inimitable effortless manner. He was a walking inspiration and continues to inspire us long after he has left.
Innumerable instances from his life still move us, and on his birthday, we go back to some of those moments that have touched the lives of millions of Indians, and motivated us to “Dare to Dream”.
Dr. Kalam always had a special bond with children. No matter whether he was a scientist or the President, first and foremost, he always thought of himself as a teacher. When it had been declared that he would be the next President of India, Dr. Kalam had gone to a small school to deliver a lecture to about 400 children. As fate would have it, the power went off and he had gone there with very minimal security.
But that never deterred him and instead of waiting, he stepped forward and asked all the students to surround him, and he began delivering his lecture! “If people will remember me as a good teacher, that will be the biggest honour for me,” are his words that resonate with us even today.
He believed that greatness can never be achieved without compassion and humility. His life is a living testament to that. He never thought himself to be superior to anyone, and believed that there was something to learn from everyone. On several occasions, he would receive requests from children and youth who wanted to meet him and share their ideas. He not only met them, but also discussed with great passion every idea that they shared with him.
These little anecdotes that make up the exemplary life of Dr. Kalam make one smile and leave one inspired. One story that stands out is from the days when he was working as a scientist. 70 scientists were working on a project together, and one of the junior members of his team had promised to take his children to an exhibition, and so wanted to leave early at 5:30 PM. While Dr. Kalam agreed readily, the scientist got occupied with work and by the time he realized he had to go, it was already 8:30 PM. However, Kalam had figured that the scientist had gotten busy, and had showed up at his house at 5:15 PM and took his children to the exhibition instead!
The purity and beauty of his actions remain unparalleled even today. Perhaps, because of his little quirks and huge generosity, Dr. Kalam remains to date one of those rare leaders who are equally loved by all. On his birthday, let us all remember this great visionary of our time, the pride of the country, the children’s favourite.
He may have left the world, but he will forever remain in our hearts!