Dr. Javed Jamil
The romance of Dr APJ Kalam’s ascending is indeed contemporary India’s best fairy tale material. His story reads like the Indian version of Abraham Lincoln’s from –log-house-to-Whitehouse saga. What makes this story especially delightful is the tribute and salute offered to his talent and contribution by the ever-shifting never trusted politicians of India. Dr Kalam epitomizes the “spiritual technocrat” and his elevation to Rashtrapati Bhavan is testimony to the universal admiration we have for spotless integrity in modern times, despite the corruption enveloping our lives. His life story is an allegory of the glory of unwavering sincerity, faith and devotion to great values of life.
A simple, devout and disciplined boat owner’s son, Dr APJ Abdul Kalam was born in 1931into a middle class family in Rameswaram. He learnt his first great lessons in the school of his father’s daily routine and faith. He himself pays homage to his father’s simple and great life.”I have throughout my life tried to emulate my father in my world of science and technology,” says Dr Kalam, “I have endeavoured to understand the fundamental truths revealed to me by my father, and feel convinced that there exists a divine power that can lift one from confusion, misery, melancholy and failure, and guide one to one’s true place.”
This training has defined Dr Kalam’s life. Before reaching the top he had his share of failures; but his faith made him turn every failure into a teacher. In his career he went up the ladder defeating his failures, which generally defeat a man without a faith. Starting a senior Scientific Assistant at the DTP(Air).He moved on to INCOSPAR as a rocket engineer, and then to NASA. On his return from NASA, he was first involved in India’s first rocket launch in 1963.
Later he was handpicked by the great Dr Vikram Sarabhai and was chosen to be a project leader. To him was entrusted the job of designing the fourth stage of India ‘s satellite launch vehicle(SLV).How Dr Kalam learnt to cope with surmount failures is amply testified by the incident of SLV3 failure. He remembers the failed attempt not as a depressing defeat but as an incident which became an opportunity to learn great lesson. He recalls the lesson he received from his mentor, Dr Brahm Prakash,
“To live only for some unknown future is superficial. It is like climbing a mountain to reach the peak without experiencing its sides. The sides of the mountain sustain life, not the peak. This is where things grow, experience is gained, and technologies are measured. The importance of the peak lies only in the fact that it defines the sides. So I went on towards the top, but always experiencing the sides. I had a long way to go but I was no in hurry. I went in little steps-just one step after another-but each step towards the top.”
The lesson was indeed learnt well in July 1980 India’s first Satellite Launch Vehicle (SLV3) was successfully launched, and with this launch India joined the club of countries having satellite launch capability.
It is customary to state that India’s rocketry and missile programme took grant strides under Dr Kalam’s Supervision. India’s space odyssey had its great Odysseus in Dr Kalam. He is to a great extent, responsible for making India a missile power, and gave Indian defence forces formidable weaponry. As a defence scientist he was chiefly responsible for developing India’s defence arsenal by producing missiles Agni Prithvi, Akash, Trishul and Nag. He is also credited with guiding India to the status of a Nuclear Power.
Dr Kalam has been honoured by his countrymen, befitting his contribution and stature, the greatest civilian honour, the Bharat-Ratan, and the highest Indian office in the Rashtrapati Bhavan. But he is remembered today as one who turns his audience into a class of inquisitive students, wherever he goes. It was on several occasions a great sight, never seen before, when the Indian President addressed his audience and the invited people to ask him questions. He would receive a great response and then answer the questions in the fashion of a professor explaining some equations to his students this image will abide in the minds of all Indians.
A gifted visionary, Dr Kalam has prepared a roadmap for the India of 21st century. His vision 2020 projects India as a superpower, an economic giant and a great nation of modern times. His faith in India’s great future has given all Indians a true reason to smile with hope, confidence and pride. He is today India’s most respected, popular and most trusted man and fascinates all as one whose life is equally colored by spirituality and atomic energy, by missile technology and the vina (a musical instrument) by science and poetry, by queries and faith.
It is interesting to learn that the man whose life is devoted to science and technology finds his philosophy of life in the Holy Quran, the Divine life and the works of Khalil Gibran.