A true educator, Dr. Abdul Kalam Azad, former President of India, breathed his last on July 27 doing what he loved to do- interact with students at IIM, Shillong.
India has lost not only an educator in Dr. Kalam Azad, but also a thinker and an inspiration for all. Among other adulations, he is called an igniter of young minds, a people’s person, and a people’s President. He was an unconventional President who would break protocol and mingle with young people and the poor.
He has said “Dreams are not those that we do in our sleep. They should be the ones that never let us sleep.” He was known to be a visionary and a doer. Once an idea was envisioned, it had to be planned out fully and implemented as soon as feasible and appropriate. One of his biggest concerns was the future of India.
Born to a poor family with meagre beginnings and having gone through hardships, but rising to such heights in his studies and profession and the Presidentship of India, he always wanted to be a beacon of hope for disadvantaged and poor children.
India’s Prime Minister, Mr. Narender Modi, in his expose entitled ‘Bharat has lost its Ratna’ in Times of India, July 29, 2015, writes “Dr. Kalam Azad’s vision for the nation was anchored in freedom, development, and strength.” Emphasizing the criticality of freedom, Dr. Azad espoused a freedom from self-imposed limits, outside pressure and all around close-mindedness by each Indian. He stressed the importance of development and asked politicians to devote 70% of their time to development of their jurisdictions. Finally, according to Dr. Azad, strength comes from understanding and it commands respect. Of note were his most valuable contributions to nuclear and space, and education, science, and technology. His special affection and concern for students young and old was much appreciated.
According to Maulana Wahiduddin Khan (Speaking tree, Times of India, July 29), Dr. Azad was a man of integrity and intelligence. He emphasized the importance of mother, father and teacher in the development of beautiful minds in children in a society that should and could be corruption free. He inspired the young towards excellence in all they do and to be a spiritual force in the world today.
Lots has been written on the late Dr. Abdul Kalam Azad and more will be still written. Indeed, what a noble and humble man he was. India mourns the loss of this great Ratna, but it also rejoices in the Marg he has shown for India and its citizens– of freedom, development, and strength.