APJ Abdul Kalam: People’s President, Student’s President

What terrible news to come home to? The death of one of India’s most admirable statesmen. Here’s a short tribute to a great visionary and a champion of scientific progress.


Yes, India will surely miss him but students all over India will miss him more. Why?

Your run-of-the-mill rags-to-riches story.

His humble beginnings to eventual greatness is well documented in his autobiography. His modesty was a result of the hardships he faced during childhood and the gumption that enabled him to endure adversity in his youth.

He was scientifically curious.

Considering Indian academia’s perpetual love affair with anything and everything scientific, Mr. Kalam was an instant hit among the youth. By pioneering Indian space research and missile programs, he achieved national recognition.

He thought globally and acted locally.

Almost, all his ideas and programs were steps to assert India’s place as the next global superpower. By focusing on realisable and measurable goals, he made realistic promises, not idealistic ones.2

He was quotable.

No list of motivational quotes is complete without one attributed to Mr. Kalam. He dared us to dream, to take risks and never give up.

He was student-friendly.

His love and admiration for students was unparalleled. So much so that, the United Nations recognised his 79th birthday as World Student’s Day.

How will I remember Mr. Kalam?

Forget the flowing grey hair and the manifest Tamil accent. I will remember him as a fair and objective leader who always put society above himself. India has very few of those. He was a leader who didn’t care for fame, fortune or recognition. India has very few of those. He didn’t belong to a powerful political dynasty. India has very few of those.

Yes, his story was your run-of-the-mill rags-to-riches story. Yet, an inspiring and wonderful one. Mr. Kalam, you will not be easily forgotten. Rest in Peace.


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