A proud son of Bharat Mata
“It is a great loss to the entire nation to lose a
true pragmatic, patriotic, secular, scholar,
scientist, engineer, hero, role model,
humanitarian, youth icon, motivational
speaker, writer, professor, simple, humble,
missile man, Bharat Ratna, the 11th President
of India Dr Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul
“Even though he is no more with us physically, he will be remembered for
generations to come, as a gentle, sincere, saintly human being, full of
passion, love and affection towards his motherland. A proud son of Bharat
Mata. Dr Kalam was always interested in interacting with the youth to
inspire and motivate them to put in right direction in serving India.”
— Dr Prasad Thotakura, Chairman,
Mahatma Gandhi Memorial of North Texas.
This is my belief: that through difficulties and
problems god gives us the opportunity to grow.
So when your hopes and dreams and goals are
dashed, search among the wreckage, you may
find a golden opportunity hidden in the ruins
– APJ There is only one name, with three initials, that I have made an effort to memorize — Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen — in the last 20
years. His was the name I read on a book borrowed as a second year medical student.
A book that changed my life!
Nine years later, in a land more than twenty
thousand miles away I had the honor of meeting
the man who wrote those words when he spoke
to me. The words that embodied spirituality as
much as science in them — something I could
understand something I could relate to.
I was seeking the answers to quintessential
existential questions: Who are we? What is our
purpose here? What happens to us after we die?
What matters in life?
But his book didn’t answer any one those
questions directly. They bypassed them, to make
me realize one true reality. Hard work paves the
way for right knowledge and with right knowledge comes right wisdom. Once you get wisdom, everything else becomes immaterial. All
questions are answered. Every soul seeking his
purpose realizes it.
Going to medical school in foreign country at
a tender age, I wasn’t sure how to handle com-
petition, politics and system-based pride, that
was inflicted upon me, for being a foreigner. My
teachers and parents pushed for excellence. As a
byproduct came success. Then came a time
when success became essential. It started defin-
ing me, not the other way round, ie how it
should have been. In those turbulent times, of
remaining at the top, I lost sight of what was
important: the bigger picture.
Reading Wings of Fire brought new perspective. It was an account of this great man’s humble beginnings and his encounters with the failure, that only pushed him higher. I felt the pain.
I felt his exhilaration. I was shown how to be
relentless. In the truest and simplest form he
explained the Geeta Sar.
Meaning: Don’t let the fruit be the driver for
your actions. Let your actions flow, flow like a
river. And gems will flow along.
He taught by example. His was the religion of
humanity and his actions spoke for himself.
He brought India the immense joy of advancing light years ahead of its neighbors and peers,
to a point where we are exporters of rockets and
rocket-based technology to the rest of the world.
He made us self sufficient.
And all he wanted to do as a child was to fly.
Flew he did, and took along the entire country
with him on his wings, to the horizon, towards
I salute to the 11th president of the Republic of
India, And my true hero.
I devote my gold medals to you, as that year
after reading your book, I was awarded them for
excellence in medicine, not rocketry. Yet it had
everything to do with your treatise.
I devote my gold medals from medical school
to you, APJ .
Dr Akshat Jain is a hematologist oncologist at
the Hofstra NorthShore LIJ School of Medicine
on Long Island, New York.
Ihave a lot of mixed emotions having heard the news of Kalam Uncle’s death. Yes,
that’s what I used to call him when
I was quite young.
My first memories of Kalam
Uncle was when I was about seven
or eight, playing on the verandah
of our house, with my dad (Dr M R
Kurup worked with Dr A P J
Abdul Kalam at the Indian Space
Research Organisation) and
Kalam Uncle sitting and talking
for hours every day after work.
My dad was a chain smoker
those days, but Kalam Uncle was
not. I guess second-hand smoke
was not an issue then.
I still remember back in 1971,
the night they both got the news
that Dr Vikram Sarabhai (
physicist and father of India’s space
program) had died at his hotel in
Kovalam, (Kerala) and (them)
rushing off with tears in their eyes.
When Kalam Uncle left ISRO
for DRDO (India’s Defence
Research and Development
Organisation) around 1992, my
dad was quite sad and somehow
after that we, as a family, lost
touch with him. I do remember
seeing him on occasions like my
wedding, or when my dad was ill
and he dropped by. Dad passed
away in 1999.
We watched him become a
beloved president and getting the
Bharat Ratna (India’s highest
civilian award). The highlight of
one of our trips to India was when
we visited Kalam Uncle at
He was kind and gracious, spoke
so nicely to my boys, told them
how great their granddad was and
told them to pursue their dreams.
My father’s generation is passing
into the ages with his death. May
Kalam Uncle rest in peace.
visiting Kalam Uncle at the rashtrapati Bhavan
Madhuri Kurup remembers a beloved
president and her father’s friend.
KInD CoUr Te Sy Dr MaDh UrI KUrUP. Dr Madhuri Kurup, who specializes in obstetrics and gynecology, lives in Columbus, ohio. She is seen here, second from right, with President a P J abdul Kalam, her mother, husband Dr Jaswant Madhavan and sons aditya and Bharat, during their visit to rashtrapati Bhavan.
‘Flew he did’
… And took the entire country with him on his wings.
Akshat Jain salutes APJ, his true hero
Ge TTy IMaGe S