From Poverty To Presidency

3 mins read

Rayees Ahmad Kumar

It was indeed an extended family but mother was duty bound to prepare bread for the whole family. She would be busy in her household work from dawn to dusk. In evenings she routinely prepared food for the family members who would gather around the traditional Chula. One day her attention got somehow diverted and burnt bread was prepared. She kept it reserved for herself thinking that nobody among the family members would like to eat it. Her husband was watching it silently; he took hold of the burnt bread and ate it lovingly. I like to eat burnt breads “He said “. After finishing the night dinner every member went to their bed for sleeping. The youngest son of the family would always kiss his father’s forehead before going to bed. He asked his father ” Pappa ! Do you really love the burnt breads? He replied “Son! Who would love burnt breads? None. But your mother remains over busy in her home work. I have eaten hundreds of fresh good breads and sweat dishes from her hand in my life. Today if I have eaten one bad bread from her hand, it won’t be doomsday for me. Instead it would please her and make her more courageous.

This youngest son of the family was none but Dr APJ Abdul Kalam, 11th president of India. Dr APJ Abdul Kalam was born in Rameshwarm an island of Tamil Nadu close to Sri Lanka. Dr Kalam belonged a poorest Muslim family of India. His father’s total asset was one boat. It was hired by pilgrims and the family earned their livelihood by that way. It was the only solid source of income for the family. When he was four or five years old, he used to collect tamarind seeds. After days hard work he earned one Anna. He worked as a paper boy also.

For some time he has worked in food factory as well. He was a bright student also and good enough in academics. From early years he started receiving scholarships. Rameshwarm was a Hindu majority village and in school there were only few Muslim students enrolled. Muslim minority students weren’t treated well by the teachers. Often they were forced to leave the school. Dr Kalam too realised the differential attitude of teachers in school but he never complained about it.

When the village head came to know about the ill-treatment of Muslim students, Hindu teachers were chided and directed to follow the humanistic suite. Dr Kalam was much interested in mathematics. After leaving college, he took his admission at Madras Institute of Technology. An admission fee was one thousand rupees but he didn’t possess it.

 From all sources it wasn’t managed. At last his elder sister acted like an angel. She sold her bangles and other jewellery items to pay the fee of her brother. To get a free admission in the university he had to top the test. He worked harder and succeeded in getting free admission in the university. After finishing the university education, he was associated with the India’s nuclear programme. In 1974 under the visionary leadership of Dr Kalam, India became a recognised nuclear state. He has greatly contributed for the development and promotion of India’s Missile Technology.

So Dr Kalam is often called the missile man of India. In 2002 congress and BJP unanimously elected him as the President of India. Dr Kalam was a nice human being also and he never wasted even his leisure time. His day would start at 6:30 or 7am in the morning and upto 11pm he would be busy in his work. Neither he possessed television in his home nor was interested in watching it. He would always check his emails at night and then respond to each one. He died at the age of 84 while giving lecture to the students of IIM at Shillong due to sudden cardiac arrest.

He was taken to hospital but couldn’t survive and lost his life while uttering the words “Funny guy, You are doing well “. In 2006 Dr Kalam invited his all family members to Rashtrapati Bhawan. They were 52 in number. Among them was his 90 years old brother and his one year old grandson. They stayed for eight days in Rashtrapati Bhawan. He also arranged Ajmer tour for them. After finishing the tour when they left for the home, Dr APJ Abdul Kalam sought expenditure bill of transport, accommodation and food. It was 3 lakh and 52 thousands. Dr Kalam paid this entire amount from his own pocket without putting any kind of financial burden on state exchequer. He even paid the bill of every single cup of tea from his pocket.
The property left behind by Dr APJ Abdul Kalam was estimated.

He owned, 6 pants(2 DRDO uniforms, shirts(2 DRDO uniforms), 3 suits (1 western, 2 Indian), 2500 books, 1 flat (which he has donated),1 Padmashri, 1 Padmabhushan, 1 Bharat Ratna, 16 doctorates, 1 website, 1 twitter account, 1 email id.

He didn’t have any TV, AC, car, jewellery, shares, land or bank balance. He had even donated the last 8 years’ pension towards the development of his village. He was a real patriot and true Indian.

India will forever be grateful to you Sir.

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