Available Balance
A.P.J Abdul Kalam – My Life – Second lesson
November 15, 2017
0

The children all walked to school together. Our school was the Rameswaram Elementary School and the only one in the town then. We walked along the cobbled roads together, chatting and playing little games. We had to carry only a few books with us and no one took schoolbags. The school building had rows of classrooms and a small playground. In the class I sat with Ramanadha Sastry, my best friend. We had known each other from the first day we came to school and been friends ever since. He and I loved to chat and somehow we never ran out of things to say to each other and do
together.

One day, we decided we would build boats made of leaves and keep them ready in case it rained. Whenever we got a break between classes we took up our pile of leaves and made little boats out of them. Imagine our joy when it actually rained that day! Our whole fleet of boats set sail on the many puddles. If I saw an ant or some other insect I carefully made sure it got a ride on my boat to safety. I don’t know if the ants were any grateful for this unexpected joyride, but we were thrilled to see them clinging on to the flimsy leaf boats and sail away.

Ramanadhan and I sat next to each other in class too. Once it so happened that a new teacher joined our school. As soon as he entered the class, he saw from our attire that Ramanadhan was a Brahmin and that I was a Muslim. These were divisions we had never thought of earlier but the teacher was not happy that a Hindu and a Muslim boy were sitting together. He made me get up and go sit elsewhere. I was shocked and heartbroken. I remember crying because I had been made to give up my seat next to my best friend. And, who knew that a Muslim and a Hindu boy could not sit together?

Rate This Content
A.P.J Abdul Kalam – My Life – Second lesson
November 15, 2017
0

That evening, my mother made special poli (a flat chapatti-shaped sweet) to celebrate. We all loved polis and ate many helpings till we were told we’d had enough and sent off to bed in case we got tummy aches! My love for this sweet endures to this day, and when I travel in south India, I have friends who make it at home and bring it to me wherever I am. I make sure to steal a few minutes from my schedule and enjoy this sweet dish that carries so many memories of childhood for me.

As a child, my day started very early. It began with my mother gently shaking me awake very early in the morning, before sunrise. ‘Abdul, wake up kanna,’ she would call affectionately and I got up, wiping the sleep from my eyes. I had two places to go to before school. One was the Arabic tuition class that all of us attended. There, we learnt to read the Koran. After it was over, I went to my Mathematics teacher’s house. He took a special class for students who showed promise in the subject. I have always loved learning about numbers and their rules and patterns. Addition and subtraction and multiplication and all the other basic functions I had learnt very quickly. Now I was raring to know about more complex problems. My teacher had started the class for students just like me and I enjoyed going there and grappling with number problems in the early hours of the day.

I ran back home once the class was over. My mother would have a hot meal ready. We all ate our fill. In our school, children did not carry tiffin boxes and water bottles so I ate the mid-morning meal hungrily, enjoying the rice and vegetables and chutney and dal. Some days she would make piping hot dosas and I still remember their thick crispy texture and the spicy powder smeared on them.

Rate This Content
A.P.J Abdul Kalam – My Life – Second lesson
November 15, 2017
0

In the morning, we woke to a world turned topsy-turvy. Trees lay uprooted and some houses had lost their roofs. Everything was under water. Our school was closed for the day so we could all help out our parents in cleaning up around the houses. We had an additional damage. The boat that we used to take pilgrims across to Dhanushkodi and back had been swept away into the sea. My father was upset and at the same time calm as he planned to get a new one. In the days that followed Jalaluddin helped him build a new boat that lasted many years.

In this way, the days of my earliest childhood went, filled with many moments of happiness and some sad days. I kept the faith in my parents and teachers and looked forward to days of hard work and learning. I realize now that it was a happy and contented time.

‘Vanakkam, Aiya! I have some good news for you!’

It was my Mathematics teacher from class 4 and he was standing just outside the house and calling out to my father. He looked quite excited, so we all rushed out to greet him and invite him inside. My father offered him a seat and then looked on expectantly.

‘Abdul, come up here, to me,’ my teacher beckoned to me. I was standing with all the other children, peeping from behind my elder brother. I came up shyly to him. He pulled me close affectionately, then turned to my father and said, ‘Abdul has scored full marks in Mathematics in the exam! And not only in Mathematics but in Science as well, and he has done very well in English and Tamil too! We teachers are very proud of him.’

I was so pleased to hear this result. But I was even more pleased because my teacher had taken the trouble to come all the way to my house to tell us about this. He had finished his work at the school, and then instead of hurrying back home he had come here, to share his pride and happiness with my family. Our school was small, but it had many such teachers like him. They taught us with love and care and felt the same joy in our achievements as we did.

Rate This Content
A.P.J Abdul Kalam – My Life – First lesson
November 15, 2017
0

With Jalauddin’s words in my ears I would lie back and look up at the twinkling stars and the moon. My dearest wish was to reach for the sky. I actually wanted to be out there, up in the sky, among those stars, studying them, flying close to them, learning where they had come from. The wonders of the sky held a special fascination for me and if I knew then that my work as an adult would have me building satellites and rockets that travelled far above the earth and studied the sky and the land below, how happy I would have been!

Jalaluddin was one of the first people to inspire me to think beyond life at Rameswaram. He himself had studied more than most others in the family and recognized the love of books and learning that ran in me. He became a friend to me, inspiring me by telling me about famous people’s lives, or how the world was like. At the same time, he also helped my father out in his work.

Our family had a ferry business and our boat took pilgrims who came to Rameswaram to Dhanushkodi by sea. I, too, used to sit in the boat sometimes and go to Dhanushkodi and back with all the pilgrims. But one day, there was a terrible cyclonic storm. It started getting windy in the evening and by sunset the waves had become bigger and wilder. The wind picked up by the minute and howled over our homes. The rain was fierce and started coming down in sheets. We were all safely inside our houses, sitting in the light of the lamps, trying to be the closest to our mother as the thunder rolled and the lightning flashed. All through the night the storm continued and we fell asleep still sitting close to one another.

Rate This Content
A.P.J Abdul Kalam – My Life – First lesson
November 15, 2017
0

The most exciting job that I had as a child was that of collecting newspapers. Rameswaram had a tiny railway station, but the train that passed through did not stop
there during the days of the War. But this train also brought the town’s newspapers. So the only way for the newspapers to get collected was for someone to stand at the door of the chugging train and throw the bundles on to the platform. I had the job of standing on the platform to collect these bundles of newspapers and taking them to my cousin Samsuddin who distributed them across the town.

In the morning, I could be found waiting at the railway platform, my ears tuned to hear the whistle or clattering of the wheels of the train. Then it would come into view, rushing up busily, puffing smoke and making a lot of noise. Waiting to catch the first glimpse of the train’s smoke, I started thinking about how steam engines work and the complex machinery required to turn steam into locomotion. This was where my fascination with engines and with the story of the invention of the steam engine began.

I would be hopping from one foot to another, anticipating the newspaper bundles getting thrown out of the moving train. Then there they would come, landing with big thuds near my feet. The person inside would wave at me as the train chugged away whistling and puffing steam. I would pick up the bundles and take them away. They would be heavy but in my youthful excitement, that didn’t matter.

In the evenings, when school was done, I went to meet Samsuddin again. Then, he and another cousin would read from the newspaper, telling about all that was happening in the world outside our town. How I longed to go out and see parts of this world for myself. They read aloud about the War, the unfolding freedom movement in India, little snippets of local news, the prices of various commodities. Everything seemed so big and important and faraway. Jalaluddin, a relative who had moved to Rameswaram on work and with whom I shared a special friendship, would tell me, ‘See, Abdul, you too will go out there one day and see more of this world. You must study hard and go to a big school and then college.’

Rate This Content
A.P.J Abdul Kalam – My Life – First lesson
November 15, 2017
0

Carrying a few coconuts back with us, I would hurry on ahead as we neared our home, eager to tell my mother and elder sister all about the things I had seen. They, too, would listen to my stories as I got prepared for the day.

Other than my parents, we were many brothers and sisters in that house. My sister Zohra used to take special care of me. I think she was especially fond of me as I was not as naughty as some of the other children. I was quite dreamy and loved to spend time on my own, either by the seaside watching the birds fly around or looking for patterns in the clouds. My mind was always full of questions like why can birds fly and not us? How does the beating of the wings keep the birds up in the sky? Does the sun really fall into the sea at the end of the day? Where do the waves come from and where do they go? I asked these questions to my elders, and when I didn’t get the replies I wanted from them, I looked for them in books.

At the time, there were very few books available for children to read. Adults, too, mostly only read the newspapers. However, there was one person in that small town who had many books and who made sure anyone who wanted to read could do so. His name was S.T.R. Manickam and he was a freedom fighter. After dinner, I was allowed to go to his home library and look through his many books. His house was on a main road, and I felt a thrill each time I entered it. What book would I get to read today? Manickam himself helped me choose books that I could read. They were fairytales and biographies and books that explained everyday occurrences in simple language. Sitting there, among the tall bookshelves, the light coming feebly from some lamps, I would look at the flickering shadows of the cupboards on the walls, see my own wavering shadow among them, and then lose myself in a world of words and knowledge and imagination. That little library was my first introduction to the wonderful world of books.

Rate This Content
A.P.J Abdul Kalam – My Life – First lesson
November 15, 2017
1

‘Appa, did you hear how loudly that crow just cawed?’

‘Appa, why does the sky change in colour so many times from morning to night? Do you think it likes to change clothes like us?’

‘Appa, why does it rain? I like rain because then my friends and I can splash in the puddles in school and Amma makes special bhajjis.’

My father would listen to all this chatter patiently, with a smile on his face. We walked to the end of the road, went by the mosque, past the famous Rameswaram temple and then took a route to his coconut grove. There, I sat by his side and listened to him talk to the caretaker about soil and manure and rains. I loved standing under those tall trees and looking into the swaying fronds. The light would flicker in and out between the leaves, teasing my eyes. I would close one eye and the light would seem even brighter, as if the morning sun was winking back at me, telling me to have fun through the day.

It was thrilling when someone climbed up right to the top of the tree to cut the coconuts. This could only be done by skilled climbers. They climbed up the straight trunk as easily as if they were walking up a gently sloping hill. With a cleaver tucked in his belt to cut the coconut with, the man hugged the tree with hands and feet in a swift practiced pattern. Once at the top, he cut the coconuts and they fell below the tree with loud thuds. For a while, before I wanted to be a pilot, I was sure that being one of the tree-climbing men in the coconut grove would be a wonderful occupation when I was
older. After all, no one can climb higher than that and you could look far into the distance from the top of the trees.

Rate This Content
A.P.J Abdul Kalam – My Life – First lesson
November 15, 2017
0

Have you ever seen a beautiful sunset? I have, when I was a little boy, standing near the sea at Rameswaram, the town where I grew up. As the sun goes lower and lower, the sky turns a vivid red and golden. The sea reflects this beautiful play of colours, and as you keep watching, the sun dips further till it seems to disappear into the water.

This is one of my favourite memories of my boyhood—of standing by the seashore, watching the sun go down, and then racing home to my mother. Our house was in a street called Mosque Street, and it was built by my father. I was born in this house on 15 October 1931. In fact, I am told that I was the first child to be born in this house! I was the youngest of all my siblings. There were so many of us living in that house! Some of you may know what it is like to live with brothers and sisters and aunts and uncles and grandparents. We, too, lived like that—always surrounded by elders and children, old and young. We had so much fun, playing games, studying and going to school together.

This does not mean that we were very rich. My father had some land where he grew coconut and other plants. He also had a boat that was used to ferry pilgrims. We were comfortably off and I went to the local school with all the other children. My mother, Ashiamma, was a wonderful cook. I may be old now, but I still remember the taste of the sambar and chutney she made for us that we ate from banana leaves sitting on the kitchen floor.

My father would visit his coconut grove frequently. On the days he went there, he woke up very early and walked to the plantation which was some distance from thehouse. I loved to accompany him but could go only on some days, when I didn’t have school or classes to attend. We would set out from our home before the sun was up and the light was only beginning to appear in the sky. It was usually cool and there would be a breeze coming in from the sea. I would hold his hand and walk quietly by his side for he would be saying his prayers under his breath. Then, something interesting would catch my attention, and I would forget to be quiet.

Rate This Content
Dr. APJ ABDUL KALAM : A PEOPLE’S PRESIDENT
November 15, 2017
0

Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam, born on 15th October, 1931 in a small village in Rameswaram in Tamil Nadu, rose to become the President of India.
Even though he came from a poor and humble background, his desire to contribute to society never faded from his vision. He specialized in Aeronautical
Engineering from Madras Institute of Technology. Dr. Kalam joined the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) as a scientist. In 1969, Dr.
Kalam was transferred to the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) where he was the project director of India’s first Satellite Launch Vehicle (SLV-III) which successfully deployed the Rohini Satellite in near-earth orbit in July 1980.

Dr. Kalam’s contribution to the scientific world was immense, yet he was always modest about his achievements. After working for two decades in ISRO and
mastering launch vehicle technologies, Dr. Kalam took up the responsibility of developing Indigenous Guided Missiles at DRDO as the Chief Executive of
Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme (IGMDP). He was responsible for the development and operationalisation of AGNI and PRITHVI
Missiles and for building indigenous capability in critical technologies through networking of multiple institutions. He was the Scientific Adviser to Defence
Minister and Secretary, Department of Defence Research & Development from July 1992 to December 1999.It is no surprise that Dr. Kalam was known as India’s Missile Man.

Dr. Kalam was elected as 11th President of India in July, 2002. As President, he shared his vision for India, addressing youth and old with the same passion which formed his entire life. Dr. Kalam was passionate for transforming society through technology especially in inspiring the youth of India to harness Science and Technology for human welfare.

Dr. Kalam, inspite of his achievements, always wanted to be remembered as a teacher. And it was as a teacher addressing a gathering at IIM Shillong that he breathed his last on the evening of 27th July, 2015. The photographs taken from the archives of Press Information Bureau and the Photo Division are being
released as a Photo Feature as a tribute to this great Son of India.

Rate This Content
A. P. J. Abdul Kalam (1931–2015) General History
November 15, 2017
0

In 1963 Kalam was sent to the US for a six-month training programme on sounding rocket launching techniques.Years later the amusing suggestion was
made that Kalam had learnt his space technology during that visit, but what attracted Kalam most was a painting at the Wallops Island facility, depicting Tipu Sultan’s soldiers using rockets against the British during the 18th century Anglo-Mysore wars (– incidentally a subject shared interest).

After the successful launches of sounding rockets at TERLS, Sarabhai began conceptualizing an Indian Satellite Launch Vehicle (SLV). As a space programme
began getting formulated and the Space Science and Technology Centre (later named VSSC after Vikram Sarabhai) came up at Veli Hill, I got to work with Kalam more closely. Among these projects were one on rarefied gas dynamics (with S. M. Deshpande), developing Monte Carlo codes for solving the Boltzmann equation on problems such as determination of satellite drag, and another on high-velocity flows (with N. M. Reddy) on heat transfer on nose
cones and in nozzles. This and a variety of technical reviews took some of us to Trivandrum every now and then. Meanwhile in 1972, following the untimely
passing away of Vikram Sarabhai the previous year when he was only 52, Satish Dhawan had taken over as Chairman of a reorganized ISRO and heading
the newly established Space Commission and Department of Space The development of an Indian SLV that could put a small 40 kg class Indian
satellite into low-earth orbit quickly became the most ambitious project on the ISRO agenda. Kalam was appointed Project Manager of the SLV-3 mission (as
the vehicle got to be designated). This was a somewhat surprising appointment, and there were members of the scientific community who were skeptical about the project’s chances of success, both within and outside ISRO, and the adequacy of Kalam for the task. However Dhawan had seen enough of Kalam in operation to conclude that he was one person who had delivered on what he had promised, because of his remarkable ability to work in teams and lead them. When the first launch failed in 1979 the fears of the pessimists seemed confirmed. However the second one launched a year later succeeded,
and placed a 35 kg Rohini satellite in a 400 km orbit. The story of what happened immediately after these two events is well known: after the failure,
Kalam wanted to resign, but Dhawan, who persuaded him to stay, faced the press answering the inevitable awkward questions. After a long internal meeting
analysing the causes of the failure, Kalam formally took responsibility for it, an admission that was followed by complete silence in the meeting, till Dhawan
concluded it saying ‘I am going to put Kalam in orbit!’. After the success of the second launch Dhawan chose to remain in the background and asked Kalam to go talk to the press.

Rate This Content