Dr. Kalam

“Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam remains our inspiration at DRDO.”


May 11th 1998, a red letter day in the history of India, when the ground shook in Pokhran and awakened the world to see a new India that is powerful and yet peace loving. Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee then Prime Minister of India added new dimension to the popular slogan “Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan” by adding “Jai Vigyan” to it and making as “Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan and Jai Vigyan”. The ‘Operation Shakti’ took the world by surprise and gave Shakti to India. Today, India is recognized as a strong nation and a substantial credit goes to Dr APJ Abdul Kalam, then DRDO Chief and Scientific Advisor to Raksha Mantri. Born on 15th October 1931 to a humble family at Rameshwaram in Tamil Nadu, he went on to do his Aeronautical Engineering from the Madras Institute of Technology where he forged his initial passion for Aeronautics. In 1958, he joined DRDO at ADE, Bangalore where he designed the first Hovercraft “Nandi” before he joined ISRO. At ISRO, he made significant contribution as Project Director to develop Satellite Launch Vehicle (SLV-III) to inject Rohini Satellite into orbit and made the country join the elite club of few nations. Later he joined the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) as Director DRDL, Hyderabad in 1982. It is his vision that resulted in the Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme (IGMDP), that has ensured country to achieve enviable position in Missile technologies by developing Missiles — Agni, Prithvi, Nag, Akash and Trishul for which Dr. Kalam is also known as “The Missile Man” of India. He was DRDO Chief from 1992–1999 and provided the much needed thrust for strengthening self-reliance in defence systems by progressing multiple technology development activities and mission mode projects including DRDO spin-off for societal applications. Dr Kalam served as the Principal Scientific Advisor to the Government of India, in the rank of Cabinet Minister, from November 1999–2001 and was responsible for evolving policies, strategies and missions for many development applications. Dr Kalam became the 11th President of India on 25th July 2002. He took up a mission to ignite the young minds for national development. Honed by his experience at ISRO & DRDO, Dr Kalam brought to this highest office a spirit of dedicated service and inspirational zeal which earned him the title of the “People’s President”. He was conferred Bharat Ratna, the highest civilian award in the year 1997 and received several Honorary Doctorates, Fellowships and National awards from many Academic and Scientific institutions. A man of many talents, Dr Kalam was a connoisseur of classical Carnatic music, wrote poetry and authored many books. The reminiscence and his inspirational words will always keep motivating the scientific fraternity to aspire for greater heights and to set new benchmarks in the years to come.

There are two sides to a story

“My boss drove a luxury car everyday and it was my duty to greet him and to open the gates for him, as I worked as a watchman in his villa. But he never responded back to my greetings.

One day he saw me opening the garbage bags outside the villa in search for any leftover food. But, as usual he never even looked at me, it was like as if he never saw anything!

The very next day I saw a paper bag at the same place, but it was clean and the food inside was covered well. It was fresh and good food like someone had just brought it from the supermarket. I didn’t bother as to where it came from, I just took the paper bag and I was so happy about it.

Every day I found this paper bag at the same place with fresh vegetables and all that we needed for home. This became my daily routine. I was eating and sharing this food with my wife and kids. I was wondering who this fool could be?! To forget his paper bag full of fresh food everyday.

One day there was a big problem in the villa and I was told that my boss has died. There were too many guests coming to the villa that day and I didn’t get any food that day, so I thought that one of the guests must have taken it. But the same thing happened the 2nd day, the 3rd day and the 4th day.

It went on like this for a few weeks and I found it difficult to provide food for my family, so I decided to ask the wife of my boss for a raise in my salary or else I would quit my job as a watchman.

After I told her, she was shocked, and asked me, how come you never complained about your salary for the last 2 years? And why is this salary not enough for you now? I gave her so many excuses but she was never convinced!

Finally in the end, I decided to tell her the truth, I told her the entire story of the bag of groceries, and as to how it was my daily provision. She then asked me as to when this stopped? I told her after the death of her husband. And then I realized that I stopped seeing the paper bag immediately after the death of my boss. Why didn’t I ever think of this before? That it was my boss who was providing this for me? I guess it was because I never thought that a person who never replied to my greetings could ever be this generous!

His wife started to cry and I told her to please stop crying and that I’m really sorry that I asked for a raise, I didn’t know that it was your husband who was providing me with the meals, I’ll remain as a watchman and be happy to provide my service.
His wife told me, I’m crying because I’ve finally found the 7th person my husband was giving this bag full of food. I knew my husband was giving 7 people everyday, I had already found the 6 people, and all these days I was searching for the 7th person. And today I found out.

From that day onwards, I started to receive the bag full of food again, but this time his son was bringing it to my house and giving it to my hand. But whenever I thanked him, he never replied! Just like his dad!

One day, I told him THANK YOU in a very loud voice! He replied back to me to please not be offended when he doesn’t reply, because he has a hearing problem, just like his dad!”

Oh! We have been wrong so many times judging others without knowing the true story behind their actions. Be kind and courteous in dealing with others, for everyone is fighting a hard battle. Be careful, not everything is about you. Before you assume, there is this thing called ASKING.

Don’t just jump to conclusion, because that is truly not an exercise, it may cause you more harm at the end of the day. Many of our problems are caused by how we process what happens around us. Don’t judge a situation you have never been in. Be humble enough to learn. You do not know it all. Lets change the way we feel about ourselves and others.

There are two sides to a story: Don’t believe everything you hear. Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.”