“We are all born with a divine fire in us. Our efforts should be to give wings to this fire and fill the world with the glow of its goodness”.
— Dr APJ Abdul Kalam
Government declaring national mourning on the demise of a national leader is a common practice in India, but people engulfed in grieve on their own is a rare scene. In the recent past, very few leaders could attain that place in the hearts of common masses. What was the reason that a person like Dr Kalam could achieve that distinction without being a political leader in classical sense? Dr APJ Abdul Kalam is the legacy exemplifying change with continuity in Indian tradition, which we need to nurture and carry forward.
When intellectualism in India is more or less equivalent to hypocrisy, as we recently witnessed in the verdict on Mumbai blasts case, Kalam’s intellectualism was a blend of science with spiritualism, humanism with nationalism and individual excellence with collective institution building.
In India’s Macaulian tradition, intellectuals deny spirituality for establishing their scientific approach. Kalam of course, wanted scientific innovation as the basis for India’s march towards prosperity, at the same time he was spiritual at his core. He taught Indians to dream for prosperous India and gave a road map for the same with five point formula. But when the Pramukh Swamiji of Swaminarayan tradition suggested him that without spirituality all these efforts would go in vain, Dr Kalam not only revised his doctrine but also implemented it in his favourite Lead India Programme.
Proponents of humanism tend to take anti-national stand on many issues. Kalam who was humanist at his heart established the fact that without being a nationalist you cannot be true humanist. Though he was talking about welfare of all and peaceful world, his reference point was always India as a developed and safe nation. He not only strived for that but also inspired many to follow the same. His association with India’s Space Programme, Integrated Ballistic Missile Programme and Nuclear tests in Pokhran did not become a hurdle in his concerns for humanity.
Secularists of India take pride in denying India’s cultural heritage. Kalam proudly carried India’s cultural heritage of respecting all ways of worship while practicing his own religion. His religion did not come in between cherishing Indian music, philosophy or national personalities.
Dr Kalam always strived for excellence in individual life but it was meant for collective good. His contribution in building institutions with team spirit or providing new dimensions to the existing institutions is exemplary. That is the reason he could become People’s President. Besides being a missile man of India and the People’s President with missionary zeal, his extraordinary qualities as a human being made him an inspirational leader. This is the legacy we need to nurture and carry forward. That will be a true tribute to the Icon. (August 9, 2015, Page 5)