Keeping The ‘Kalam’ In Hand

A pas­sion­ate engi­neer. A reluc­tant politi­cian. A man who was so intel­lec­tu­al­ly and empa­thet­i­cal­ly con­nect­ed with the youth of this nation that his birth­day is regard­ed as World Students Day.

A trag­ic news det­o­nat­ed across the inter­net: The People’s President had passed away due to car­diac arrest. Knowing this, the social media flood­ed with remorse, ven­er­a­tions and even sto­ries of the man’s intel­li­gence, accom­plish­ments and — above all — his kind­ness.

This isn’t one of those sto­ries. There’s plen­ty of them else­where.

I some­times won­der if he wor­ried about the cru­el­ty of mor­tal­i­ty. I’ve been a die-hard fan of those who had great dreams but died because they could accom­plish half of them, and when most of those dreams are born out of com­pas­sion, for the wel­fare and devel­op­ment of the peo­ple — such as ignit­ing the pas­sion for sci­ence in the youths, mak­ing it acces­si­ble for mass­es to do amaz­ing things — they knew that those dreams mat­tered MORE than their own lives.

It was nev­er about what he has achieved, but always about what he want­ed to give back. Even after his tenure as a pres­i­dent, he had been dream­ing of leav­ing a bet­ter a world behind. His last tweet def­i­nite­ly shows us that:

His kind­ness was immea­sur­able. Besides giv­ing India its mis­sile pro­gram, he want­ed to see the oncom­ing of an enlight­ened age in this coun­try. He was try­ing to find new solu­tions for the country’s ener­gy require­ments, and was even proud of the Solar Plant at Kannauj. He held lec­tures for chil­dren to inspire them to dream beyond what con­ven­tions expect them to. He want­ed to share his love of sci­ence with pret­ty much every­body he ever met. He, even as a busy President, always made time for bud­ding teenagers who dreamed of being sci­en­tists, talk­ing to them about their ideas on how to make this world bet­ter and take them seri­ous­ly enough to take notes. He nev­er let that pen down.

During his last years, he was extreme­ly con­cerned about Climate Change and its var­i­ous ill effects.

Sure, we’re all pret­ty sad that he’s gone. Facebook is being flood­ed with plen­ty “RIPs” ded­i­cat­ed to him as I type this, but here’s the thing: Kalam did not live to remain alive. He lived want­i­ng to give away an ide­al for the mass­es. Bodies may die, but ideas don’t. Breaths may cease, but con­cerns don’t. He had a vision for the year 2020 and, whether you agree with his ideas or no, we can all safe­ly assume that’s where we all want to see our­selves.

So what is the one way we can tru­ly hon­or Dr. Abdul Kalam? Keep that dream and pas­sion alive. We hon­or his con­cerns, his visions, and do our part to cre­ate what he ide­al­ized. We con­tin­ue to share the love of sci­ence, con­tin­ue to play our part to make this world bet­ter. Take a cou­ple of cours­es, such as for sus­tain­able devel­op­ment (they’re free, so what the heck), fol­low the ISRO on Twitter, and sup­port our nation­al sci­en­tists and sci­ence lit­er­a­cy in India.

And most impor­tant­ly, per­haps gift a book called Reignited that Abdul Kalam left behind to wide-eyed chil­dren and dream­ers you know. After all, some­where in this lit­tle sub­con­ti­nent there’s a son of a boat­man and a daugh­ter of a tea-sell­er try­ing to find their way across the hori­zons, build robots or even cure can­cer. The People’s President is no longer there for them, so they will need some­one to lis­ten to their ideas and sup­port their zeal. They will need some­one to help them dis­cov­er their poten­tial.

Because dreams aren’t meant to be lived and died for. Dreams are meant to be shared. Dreams are meant to be giv­en away, and — like Kalam and oth­er sci­en­tists out there — we all have a col­lec­tive respon­si­bil­i­ty of shar­ing them and cel­e­brat­ing it. So let’s con­tin­ue to inspire peo­ple to be empow­ered with sci­ences and arts as long as we live.

Don’t keep that kalam down just yet. There’s still a lot of ink — and a lot of ideas and deter­mi­na­tion — left in us.



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