Saturday, August 15, 2015

India celebrates 69th Independence Day 2015

 A tribute to simplicity and honesty

Today, 15 August 2015, India celebrates its 69th Independence day. It is a memorable day not for India alone but for the world at large as it marked the beginning of the end of colonial rule all over the world as well.

This year it is of special significance as Indians pays tribute to one of the most brilliant and illustrious citizen in recent times, the late Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Dr.Abdul Kalam, the 11 President of the republic who passed away on 27 July 2015.Dr.APJ Abdul Kalam was top scientist but was known for his simplicity, honesty and high integrity and was highly respected and loved by millions within and outside India.

After his death and just before their Independence Day, Public TV announced that the wealth of the late president as follows:

1) 3 Pants
2) 6 shirts
3) 3 suits
4) 1 watch
5) 2500 books
6) No TV, AC or CAR
7) 1 Bangalore Flat handed over to scientists community long time.                                                               
 8) Zero bank balance                                                                                                                          

It is gratifying to note that at a time when simplicity and honesty are ignored, India chose to honor an extremely simple and honest man on such an auspicious day.

Below is one of most memorable quotes which he delivered at a speech at the European parliament:     
"Where there is righteousness in the heart, there is beauty in the character. When there is beauty in the character, there is harmony in the home. When there is harmony in the home, there is order in the nation. When there is order in the nation there is peace in the world".

As a mark of respect this small but extraordinary man, I submit this short story about him which I came across in my reading and a video tribute of the man who I admire greatly.

How Wealthy was the APJ Abdul Kalam in terms of Material

APJ Abdul Kalam has left an indelible mark on the hearts and minds of Indians in a manner few other public figures have in recent memory. In death he achieved the kind of acclaim in people’s hearts that politicians covet but may never come close to attaining.

In material terms, the “People’s President”, it now transpires, owned precious little, save his 2,500 books, a wrist watch, six shirts, four trousers, three suits and a pair of shoes. Kalam did not own any property nor a fridge, TV, car or an air conditioner. This for a man who spent over five decades in public service, including his stint as President of the Republic.

He did not die in penury, but neither did he live a life of luxury. He survived on the royalty from his books – he authored four of them – and his pension. The exact amount of his life savings is not known. “It wasn’t much to write home about,” said Sheridan, his secretary for over two decades.

After he demitted office, the government allotted him a bungalow at 10 Rajaji Marg. The two-storey house lies desolate today but tales of his integrity are still alive. He was firm about not receiving any personal gifts and ensured that all personal gifts were duly tabulated and sent to the government’s toshakhana.

“He would never accept a gift, save a book, and whenever somebody brought him a packed gift and tried to pass it off as a book, he insisted on examining what was inside. Anything other than the book was politely returned,” says his former media advisor SM Khan.

Kalam’s love for technology is well known and he kept himself abreast of the latest developments mainly through radio. “He did not have a television set in his living quarters. He got his news either from radio or newspapers. The only TV set at his Rajaji Marg residence was used by his staff,” Khan said.

Khan recalled how the former President revered his elder brother, who is 99 years old. Kalam held his elder brother APJ Marakia in great esteem and was full of plans to celebrate his brother’s 100th birthday next year. “One of the things that gave him (Kalam) immense joy was when he helped his brother get access to 24-hour power supply by installing a solar panel at their ancestral home,” says Sheridan, adding, “President Kalam would always call him (his brother) before leaving or returning from an important lecture assignment. He had called him the day before leaving for Shillong.”

“The lives of great men remind us, we can make our lives sublime, and, departing, leave behind us, footprints on the sands of time.” Former president APJ Abdul Kalam wasn’t around when Wordsworth wrote these lines. Had both the men belonged to the same age then these lines would have surely been written for Kalam.

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