When Comes Such Another aP J Abdul Kalam’s last book was on a great Hindu seer and visionary of the Swaminarayan sect, Shri
Pramukh Swami, Transcendence. He was
an ardent follower and admirer of
Swaminarayan and often visited
Pramukh Swami for his guidance and
His life was woven around everything
that was spiritual Bharat. His deep stud-
ies on the Upanishads, devotion to
Ramakrishna and Vivekananda, regular-
ly reading the Bhagwad Gita, his love for
the Rudra Veena and passion to make
India an invincible military power, his
dedicated campaigns to ignite Indian
minds with a dream to rebuild a self-
reliant progressive nation — all that
turned him into a national rejuvenator.
India was his Gurukul and its people
were his shishyas whom he loved and
would often, pausing his speech, ask his
audience: ‘Did you get it? Am I right,”
He was an iconoclast in a sense that he
would never fit in the pre-set framework
of a Head of State.
Often from the dais he would jump to
the floor and mingle with the audience,
asking questions in a lighter vein, cheering them up, making them giggle and
feel one with the Rashtrapatiji. People
could touch him.
He loved to break protocol, inject life
in dead stones and set new rules. He was
loved by children and youth alike.
His speeches were never boring and he
perfected the art of deviating from his
written address and leave his presidential chair, to sit closer to the audience on
the edge of the dais and asking those
backrow listeners to come closer. ‘Why
don’t you come nearer to me so that I
can listen to you and see you clearly?’
amidst roars of praise and applause.
We had never seen a President before
who we could touch and feel his
He was, to us, an icon of the nation’s
aspirations, dreams and civilizational
strength. He spoke for the nation — an
His thoughts were the
thoughts of a common Indian
— for growth, for power, for
education and a greater,
brighter, happier future.
He was a President whose
presence enhanced the prestige
and the status of Rashtrapati
Bhawan, otherwise so vulgarly
moulded in the old, Victorian
colonial frame. He broke the glass
shields of the Viceroy’s legacy, became
the People’s beloved President, setting
examples of simplicity and humility that
would become almost impossible for any
other incumbent to follow.
My daughter Shambhavi started a
Web mag Invincible at age 13, which
instantly became popular, way back in
2007. When President Kalam was
denied a second term due to Congress
politics, he began inviting various sections of society for a farewell tea. One
was for editors.
All senior editors, columnists and lead-
ers of media houses were invited. Dr
He was one of us. He was a perfect
Indian. He breathed India. He wore
India’s core values. His faith was India.
We will miss you sir. — Tarun vijay is a Bharatiya Janata Party member of the rajya Sabha.
as a 13 year old I was nervous while slipping into crisp formals and putting on my best combination of charm and confidence because I had been called by the Head
of State to a formal high tea.
I had never been to the gorgeous Ashoka Hall at
Rashtrapati Bhavan. It was an invite that one does not get
I was lucky to get the golden embossed invitation card
with my name inscribed on it in gothic style handwriting —
S-H-A-M-B-H-A-V-I. It was July 28, 2007, and I was
called amongst the top editors and journalists of our
nation. It was President Dr A P J Abdul Kalam’s last press
meet and to have been invited was a gesture in its own. The
name on the invitation card. The feel of the presidential
stationary. It sure is a great recognition. This was a dream
I was nervous and sweating. Writing articles and putting
up your opinions is one thing, but voicing them is entirely a
different task. Who would have thought this lesson would
be taught to me by the President of the nation?
Standing inside Ashoka Hall, the grandeur was breath-
taking. But the real brightness that shone in the hall came
when Dr Kalam walked in. Swift walk with a resplendent
smile on his face — I was awestruck, till suddenly I realized
that any minute soon he
would he standing right
in front of me shaking my
moist hands. I had to hold myself together.
When he came near, I saw the sparkle in his eyes. Almost
as if saying, ‘I am so proud of you child.’ Or maybe that was
what I wanted him to say.
He took the magazine I had got for him to read. He
smiled again and then suddenly while flipping through
laughed, “You put my poem too?” he asked. I smiled sheepishly.
With a pat on my back out of nowhere he told his aide,
“Make sure she eats well and goes.” Everyone around
laughed. When the tea was served, in the crowd of over a
hundred, he decided to personally come to me again. “Did
you eat? Good. Keep writing well.”
Dr Kalam! In a country of 1.2 billion there would hardly
be a youth who has not been mesmerized by his modest
and down-to-earth nature, his simple smile, the aura of
positivity and humbleness, the sparkle in his eyes that
India has lost not just an inspiration, but a man synonymous with Indian values.
India truly has lost its very own superhero. — Shambhavi is majoring in economics at Fergusson College, Pune. She was editor of Invincible, a Web magazine, when she was invited by President a P J abdul Kalam to rashtrapati Bhavan as a 13 year old.
We met him in 2002 in Anna University when he was president elect and my son
Harikrishnan had won an interna-
tional competition conducted by
NASA. He had a truly simple and
child like personality and took so
much interest in my son’s programs
and future. He advised my son to
balance equally between academics
and research activities in physics. — Gita ramani
It was in 2011 that I got a
for the con-
(when I was getting my doctorate
degree). He spoke for about 30 minutes,
and it was very invigorating experience.
He spoke on what we should do and
kept on stressing that we should be
good human beings. — Tanmay Chattopadhyay, a citizen of India, responded to a reader invite on zara Bol
v IJay Ma Th Ur/reU TerS