Dr. Abdul Kalam: Science meets Sainthood
As the nation continues to shower unending encomiums on the late People’s President and the national mourning draws to its end, I continue to be amazed by the countless anecdotes that are flooding the social media on the news paper boy of Rameswaram. Here was a man who excelled in studies, worked as a scientist, practiced vegetarianism, played the Veena, lived secularly, embodied humility, influenced the youth and was the People’s President. Thats a big package of greatness rolled into one. There is science to Kalam and sainthood too. Where do I start?
The joy of giving. At the very core of the man that Dr. Kalam was, he was a yogi. A Yogi who practiced the art of giving and one that he derived pure joy out of. Septuagenarians are known to slow down and live their days in nostalgia. The highs and lows of the years that rolled by. Something, what I call as driving by looking at the rear view mirror. On the contrary, here was a man, who stepped up into top gear. His message was simple. If a newspaper boy can make news one day, why not the rest of the 56 million youngsters in the country? There is a success story waiting to be told in every corner of the country. It is a firm devotion to the cause of the country and an altruistic belief of giving to the society
U & I becomes WE. In a generation that believes in instant ratification and return on investment, it is absolutely rare to see Kalam planting saplings of inspiration knowing fully well that the fruit will go to the next generation. It is here that he has been able to define his life’s purpose and in doing so, the society at large was able to identify with his vision and intent. The outpouring of grief that we saw over the last week is due to this emotional connect. That connect when U and I becomes WE.
Content and Intent can lead to amazing results. This was exemplified in great measure when Kalam travelled around the country taking his messages to the youth. He broke barriers and reached out to the audience, engaging them and asking them questions. In many ways, he did the paradigm shift of public speaking. One needn’t be flamboyant in speaking. Single minded focus will always score high with an audience as it did with Kalam
Consistency of character is what makes people like Tendulkar and Kalam great. You would not have heard a single blemish about them. It all comes from a deep rooted value system. When the roots of the character are strong, the fruit of personality tastes sweet. The endearing Kalam also reminds us about secularity. What a sight it was to see people cutting across communal barriers and religious boundaries to share the grief of an irreparable loss. Building credibility can be through words and deeds. Through both is Godly!
Practice Loyalty. He remained a student of science for ever. In a sense, he was the ideal engineer we all could have aspired to be. The engineer that every mother wants her child to be. The engineer that doesn’t run software testing after studying soil testing. The engineer that can build smart cities and provide solutions to a rapidly urbanising population. Unfortunately, engineering is a commercialised commodity today. Loyalty to the cause of engineering is one legacy left by the Missile Man that the students of today (and tomorrow) would like to emulate.
The perfect Secularist. In an age when tolerance is smaller than the gap between the lips, religious fanatics drive vote banks, power multiplication relies on community division, we just saw the life and times of Kalam exhibit the perfect secularism that our forefathers envisioned. A son of Islam, grows up in a holy Hindu town and earns respect from the western world. While tolerance, co-loving are preached in all religions, it takes a Kalam to show us his ease with The archbishops or The Dalai Lama or the Sai Baba (or Homi Bhabha, being the scientist that he was).
India is fortunate to have had two leaders at both ends of the last century. Vivekananda and Kalam. Both anchored the youth with an unshakeable belief that the future return on investment for this country lies in maximising the potential of this 56 million to provide a strong foundation for 2050. More pertinently, it is also a reminder that there is a lot of power and potential to be harnessed from the youth. This nation needs more leaders. The victory of Modi last year, the stupendous support for Anna Hazare, a celebrated world cup winning Dhoni are examples of how starved we are from quality leaders. Bharath Matha craves for more such children on its lap. With the right leader, this nation can bend history and bring back the glory of the past when India ruled the world economy.
He brought about credibility with his deeds, walking the talk and enormous educational qualification. Great people maintain their composure and do not get angry at all. By abandoning anger, composure shows humility.
Whether we use the Kalam (pen in Hindi) or choose a Kalam (field/area of work in Tamil), let us remember the guiding principles of this scientific Saint
Experience makes a man wise. Listening to one makes us wiser!