By Dr A Lourdusamy
Chairman - PG Department of English
St Aloysius College (Autonomous), Mangaluru
Mangaluru, Jul 28: The nation has lost one of its illustrious sons. Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam, the former President of India is no more. The whole world mourns for him.
The ‘Missile Man’, ‘People’s President’, ‘the dream of the youth’ and ‘children’s friend’ is no more.
We came to know more of Dr Abdul Kalam after he was elected the President of India. But he was a man of stature, knowledge and integrity throughout his life. Hailing from a humble family he did not allow the deterrents stop him from his vision of realizing his goal in life. A man of simple living and high thinking exemplifies Dr Kalam.
I always feel proud to declare that both of us studied in the same college - St Joseph’s, Thiruchchirappali, Tamil Nadu, though at different times. He was senior to me by 20 years.
However his physics professor Fr Chinnadurai was my professor too. He taught me philosophy. Though a lot of incidents are told and shared about Dr Kalam, let me share something that is not in the public domain. Once Dr Kalam, the President of India participated in a programme at Gandhigram Rural University, Dindigul, Tamil Nadu. He expressed his desire to meet his well respected professor Fr Chinnadurai who was in Dindigul. The organizers in consultation with the President’s security thought it fit to invite Fr Chinnadurai to the university rather that the President going over there due to security reasons. When this was conveyed to the President, he vehemently opposed the idea and insisted that he go there to meet his professor. He seemed to have said: "I am his student and he is my teacher. However great the student is, it is appropriate that the student goes to meet the teacher and not the other way", and believe it, Dr Kalam went to meet his teacher at his place. That was the reverence Dr Kalam had for his teacher, thus proving to the student community that teachers are always teachers.
When Dr Kalam visited St Aloysius college, Mangaluru, I noticed him having a long conversation with the then Provincial of Karnataka Jesuits Fr Ronald Prabhu having the programme schedule in his hand. After the programme I asked Fr Ronnie what the conversation was about the programme leaf. I was told that the President of India asked him as to how to pronounce the names especially the local surnames. Here is a President who always stood for accuracy and precision - after all he is India’s Missile Man.
During his frequent visits to Anna University, Chennai, he was a man of great edification to the students. My brother-in-law, a student of Anna University, remembers Dr Kalam for his scholarship, and above all for his simplicity - a quiet man with deep thinking and unassuming nature.
We call him ‘People’s President’, but look at Providence - a man born at the southern tip of India, who had his life breath at this southern tip had to breathe his last at the northern end. Indeed his life was for the whole of India and he is an Indian through and through. May God grant him eternal rest and let his life be an enduring source of inspiration to this generation and the generations to come. May his vision for India 2020 be fulfilled as a tribute to this great human being.