Meetings with Dr Kalam : The Tribune India

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Meetings with Dr Kalam

Meetings with  Dr Kalam

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RK Saboo

COMING from a very humble background, Dr APJ Abdul Kalam journeyed from Rameswaram, Tamil Nadu, to the Rashtrapati Bhavan to serve as the President of India. Not a politician but an aerospace scientist, a visionary and a teacher par excellence, he loved children as he believed they were the future of India and the world.

On March 24, 2000, then US President Bill Clinton visited Hyderabad for an event under the polio eradication programme. Since I was involved in Rotary’s prime project PolioPlus, I, along with Deepak Kapur and other Rotarians, attended the event. After his address, Clinton greeted us and enquired about the programme. We followed him to Mahavir Trust Hospital, where he administered polio drops to children and saw the lightweight calipers for polio-stricken children developed by Dr Kalam. That was where I met him for the first time.

I was privileged to meet him again in August 2004 at Rashtrapati Bhavan with Rotary International president Glenn Estess. The next day, then President Kalam was the chief guest at the International Polio Plus Summit at Vigyan Bhavan, where he spoke movingly about the eradication of polio to save children. Also present was Dr Anbumani Ramadoss, then Minister for Health & Family Welfare.

On October 16, 2005, Kalam visited HN Bahuguna University, Garhwal, as the chief guest on the invitation of then Uttarakhand Governor Sudarshan Agarwal. I received an honorary doctorate from him and later had an interaction with him. My wife Usha and I were privileged to meet Dr Kalam several times regarding poliomyelitis, children’s education and other social causes. On March 6, 2006, I received the Padma Shri from him.

Then, on March 7, 2007, at the convocation of Panjab University, Chandigarh, I received the D Litt (Doctor of Literature) degree in the presence of Dr Kalam.

On November 14, 2008, he was the chief guest at a function to mark Children’s Day and the completion of 25 years of Bhavan Vidyalaya, Chandigarh. The Bhavanites had the rare opportunity to interact with the visionary ‘Missile Man of India’. In his address to the students, he said: ‘India is not far from becoming a superpower and its greatest asset, the youth, will lead it on the path of glory.’

In 2015, Prabhman, an alumnus of Bhavan Vidyalaya, met Dr Kalam on a flight. It was heartwarming for him to hear Dr Kalam recalling his visit to the school. During the conversation, he said he would revisit the campus, but that was not to be as he passed away on July 27, 2015.

‘Great dreams of great dreamers are always transcended,’ said Dr Kalam, a great son of India, the brain behind Pokhran-II nuclear tests, a scientist, children’s ambassador and dreamer of the future.

#Tamil Nadu


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