On 27th July 2015, last year we lost a great soul, Dr.APJ Abdul Kalam “The Missile Man” of India passed away while delivering a lecture at the Indian Institute of Management Shillong.
Adjectives might not be enough to describe this legendary persona, who has won every Indian’s heart with his simplicity and generosity.He’s truly an epitome of simplicity, hard work and morality. A scientist, administrator, researcher, inspirational writer and speaker par excellence and a President who was respected highly by everyone. His ingenious spontaneity, teachings and vision will still continue to inspire generations to come.
A lot has been said over APJ Abdul Kalam’s life and times, but there’s much more to him outside the office— he was perhaps the best embodiment of the spirit of India.
Here are some lesser known anecdotes about the late Dr Kalam that will make us appreciate him even more:
#1. He was the perfect symbol of meritocratic India, the Ideal citizen, and an Optimistic Indian :
Little did Jainulabdeen an Ashiamma know that their son wold grow up to be an exceptional humane. Born in a village to a poor fishing family in Rameswaram, right from his humble beginnings as a student who distributed newspapers to supplement the family’s income to the 11th President of India, he rouse through dint of his hard work.
#2. He had always put his Nation at First:
Whether it was as a scientist or President, he was a patriot first. He was a protégé of three of India’s greatest scientists – Dr Vikram Sarabhai, professor Satish Dhawan and Dr Brahm Prakash. He took only two holidays in his life, it is said – both for deaths, of his father and mother.
#3. When President APJ Abdul Kalam asked a question “What should we do to free our planet from terrorism” on Yahoo.
This question attracted a huge gathering. The best thing was renowned personalities like Sri Sri Ravishankar, Kiran Bedi, and Leander Paes shared their views over this, along with 31,000 other responses, which turned out to be the most answered question globally. Such was his Excellency.
#4. Kalam contributed immensely both as a scientist and as a president.
His contribution at the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) was immense. Dr. Kalam worked as an Aerospace Engineer with DRDO and ISRO. He was responsible for numerous projects such as Project Devil and Project Valiant and launch of the Rohini-1. During his term as president, he was affectionately known as the People’s President, saying that signing the Office of Profit Bill was was the toughest decision he had taken during his tenure. After completing his term as President, Kalam served as a visiting professor in various esteemed institute.
#5. He was the master of inspiring quotes:
Here is the glimpse of some of his quotes:
“You have to dream before your dreams come true.”
“Great dreams of great dreamers are always transcended.”
“To succeed in your mission, you must have single-minded devotion to your goal.”
“Man needs his difficulties because they are necessary to enjoy success.”
“We should not give up and we should not allow the problem to defeat us.”
#6. His fight against corruption:
He launched his mission for the youth of the nation called the “What Can I Give Movement” with the main aim to defeat corruption in India.
#7. My name is Prithviraj, Major General Prithviraj:
In the sweltering heat of the desert of Pokhran, the country’s two top scientists, Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) chief A.P.J. Abdul Kalam and Indian Atomic Energy Commission head D. R. Chidambaram, were always in character as army generals whenever they visited Pokhran, all in order to maintain secrecy. Kalam as being the one of the person in the circle of trust had to live like a military person wearing army fatigues and talk like he is from the army.
He took the name of Prithviraj as an ironic twist to the fact that it was Dr. Kalam who started and developed the Prithvi ballistic missile , which is India’ first nuclear-capable missile program. Also, Prithviraj is the last Hindu ruler of Delhi, and this is a testament to the love Kalam has for Indian culture and history.
Kalam’s brief role as Major General Prithviraj ensured that, when the nuclear bomb went off and the operation ‘Smiling Buddha’ became a success, the world shockingly woke up to realise that India became a nuclear nation.
#8. He was known to write his own thank you cards with personalized messages in his own handwriting.
What a way this is to show humbleness towards a person to appreciate his/her work. One such cite was when Quora user Naman Narain drew a sketch of Dr. Kalam and sent it to the President. The President sent him a handwritten thank you letter with the card, which consisted of the inspirational message & his signature on it.
“On cloud nine” is what one must feel about this gesture.
#9. He was a Renaissance man :
A practicing Muslim, he was also well versed with Hindu traditions and read the Bhagavad Gita. He was a scholar of Thirukkural (a classic of couplets or Kurals) and was known to quote at least one couplet in most of his speeches. He had a keen interest in literature and wrote poems in his native Tamil.
#10. No matter who you are, what your profession is, he respects you:
That’s Kalam Sir for you.
#11. Guess who did he invite as Presidential Guests??
An incident that highlights Kalam’s simplicity is his Presidential Guest list to Kerala’s Raj Bhavan during his first visit to the state after becoming the President. He invited a road side cobbler and owner of a very small hotel as he had spent a significant time as a scientist in Trivandrum and was quite close to the two during that time.
#12. He refused to sit on a larger chair while President because he didn’t believe in hierarchy.
His humility is probably best described in this incident while he was President. Kalam was the Chief Guest at a convocation of IIT(BHU)Varanasi and saw that of the five chairs in stage, the centre one being designated for him while the others for University officials. But he refused to sit on it as was larger in size than the others, and offered it to the Vice Chancellor, who also refused and ultimately a different chair was got for him.
#13. Dr. Kalam was a great inspiration to many, especially kids, and always inspired them to dream big and achieve great goals in life.
“I will not be presumptuous enough to say that my life can be a role model for anybody, but some poor child living in an obscure place in an underprivileged social setting may find a little solace in the way my destiny has been shaped.” – Dr. APJ Kalam
Watch: Rajasthan Teachers Travel By Camel To Reach Kids Without Mobile, Internet
Smartphones and internet connections may have become a necessity in metro cities, but they still remain a thing of luxury for many living in rural India. The pandemic has made us more reliant on technology. Though many are privileged to attend offices and classes in the comfort of their homes, there are people who don’t have access to these basic facilities in the times of the COVID-19 pandemic.
To overcome such a challenge, teachers in Rajasthan’s Barmer district have been travelling 10-12 kilometres, on camels, to reach the homes of their students.
In Rajasthan’s western-most district, there are many hamlets, where children have limited access to mobile phones and networks.
“Out of 75 lakh students, many do not have mobile phones. So the state government has decided that teachers will go to their homes once a week for class 1-8, and twice a week for class 9-12,” said Saurav Swami, Director of Rajasthan Education Department.
"Out of 75 lakh students, many do not have mobile phones. So the state government decided that teachers will go to their homes once a week for class 1-8, and twice a week for class 9-12," says Saurav Swami, Director of Rajasthan Education Department pic.twitter.com/Pz1AZAtXfo
— ANI (@ANI) July 9, 2021
To bridge the digital divide, the Rajasthan Education Department has launched a unique initiative – ‘Aao Ghar Se Seekhein (come, let’s learn from home)’.
Under this programme, the teachers are going to the homes of the children located in small hamlets and holding the classes on the ground. The sandy terrain makes it extremely difficult for the teachers to reach the students via roadways. Hence, they are using camels to crossover the sand dunes.
A study showed that nearly 13 lakh children in Rajasthan have missed schooling in the one-and-a-half years of the pandemic. These are kids who have no access to mobile phones, so they can’t attend online classes, which are advised due to the highly transmissible nature of the COVID-19 virus.
— ANI (@ANI) July 9, 2021
They are also children from remote villages and hamlets where they are unable to join learning through TV and radio.
Education has been hit particularly hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. While a learning crisis had already existed in the country, the COVID-19 has further worsened the state of the educational system.
Amid such testing times, the programme is being appreciated by the beneficiaries.
“I salute and thank this team of teachers. This should be continued further,” said. Roop Singh Jhakad, Principal, Government Higher Senior School, Bhimthal.
(With Inputs From Agency)
“Not All Heroes Have BatMobiles, Some Of Them Have AutoRickshaws”: Autos Convert To Ambulances
As the second wave of the virus spreads through India, thousands are getting infected and admitted into various medical facilities all over the country. With the second wave, many families have broken beyond repair. The loss of life has been saddening and daunting for India as it continues to fight the virus.
While the Government believes that the situation is “under control”, the health infrastructure has reached its breaking point while tending to every patient. The local superheroes have taken on themselves to enter the battlefield and save as many lives as possible. These superheroes are none other than our beloved Auto Rickshaw drivers.
India has always been a country where most of the population depends on local transportation for their various commutes within the cities, from Mumbai Local Trains to buses and Auto Rickshaws. They are the bloodline of cities that makes the city up and going for work all day for years now.
All of us have an abundance of attachment towards the Mumbai Local trains. It’s an experience that everyone tends to have when in Mumbai. The feeling of happiness you get when your Ola Auto driver doesn’t cancel your ride after an exhausting day at college or work is just inexpressible.
Due to the pandemic, Local transportation is another victim facing the brunt of the virus. Many lives have been affected in the sector, resulting in unemployment for several workers. Yet, our brave Auto Drivers have taken matters into their hands and decided to help people in their city in their unique way.
Reportedly, Auto drivers across the country have converted their Auto Rickshaws into oxygenated ambulances. They provide their services to households facing an issue to get immediate medical help or transportation from the hospitals due to the rush in the Emergency wards.
These oxygenated ambulances have support facilities that can last 6-7 hours and have equipped their ambulances with a PPE kit along with a plastic shield that separates the driver and the patient for safety precautions. The emergency kit includes an oxygen cylinder, oximeter, and sanitiser to provide immediate relief to the patient. Most of these drivers aren’t affiliated with any Non-Governmental Organisations or any other Covid relief groups. They have formed a community to cover localities in the city to reach maximum patients and help save lives.
The Auto-Drivers have been kind enough to provide these services for free. One such example is Javed Mohammed Khan, a citizen of Bhopal Madhya Pradesh. He recently told Quartz India that he believes that money can be managed later. At this point, saving lives is more important. He was motivated to convert his auto into an ambulance by the number of posts and messages he witnessed on his Facebook and WhatsApp regarding the increasing emergency cases and the unavailability of oxygen beds in the city. His act of kindness saved the lives of many people even though it cost him his livelihood.
Similar cases have been reported in Pune, where the auto drivers have initiated a community group called “Jugaad Ambulances,” where drivers provide three oxygen cylinders in their ambulance. They help patients reach a hospital with available oxygen beds for further medical attention. In Pune, 100 such auto drivers are similarly equipped to help the patients safely transfer them to the hospitals. The charges for these services are minimal and free of cost for the poor, reported ANI.
The idea of Auto Ambulances progressed during the second wave. Some auto drivers had been offering these services since the lockdown in March last year. Jitendra Shinde, an auto driver from Kolhapur, Maharashtra, has been helping people with his ambulance since the previous year. He has ferried almost 1000 Covid patients to the hospital.
The reason behind his involvement is that he lost his parents at a young age. He understands the pain of losing family and thus wanted to help prevent loss of life in his city and started to help by using his Auto Rickshaw to ferry the patients back and forth from the hospitals. This act of kindness cost him a 2lakh rupee, but he believes in saving people rather than worrying about the finances.
These local superheroes are putting in extra effort to train themselves on how to read the oximeter and help patients use the oxygen mask even—other essential steps are being followed up in this training. Hence, they help the severe patients with utmost safety until they reach the hospital.
In Maharashtra, these activities are self-initiated. Whereas, In New Delhi, the state government launched a similar service. The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) member Sanjay Singh started with ten auto-ambulances and collaborated with a Delhi-based NGO called the TYCIA Foundation (Turn Your Concern Into Action Foundation). These auto-ambulances can carry mild-symptomatic patients with oxygen saturation levels between 85 and 90. These auto-ambulances have circulated their mobile numbers in various WhatsApp groups and Facebook pages for immediate help or transfer to the hospital.
Rabindranath Tagore Jayanti: Peek Into Kabiguru’s Life
Rabindranath Tagore, popularly known as “Kabiguru”, was born on May 7, 1861, in Kolkata at Tagore Lahne, Jorashanko Thakur Bari. His father was Debendranath Tagore, and his mother was Sharada Devi. Tagore was a Bengali Brahman and was fondly called by his nickname was “Rab”, or “Rabi”. His name is also written as Rabindranath Thakur in many languages of India. He was an artist, philosopher and poet. He wrote numerous stories, novels, poems and dramas and is also known for composing music. His writings mainly influenced the Bengali culture during the 19th and 20th century. His pen name was Bhanu Singha Thakur (Bhonita). He was the first Asian to win the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1913.
He wrote his first poem at the age of eight. In 1877, Tagore published his first extensive poetry collection and wrote his first short story and drama at the age of sixteen. Tagore also composed many literary works. He also wrote a long poem in Maithili (the language spoken by the people of Mithila, India).
Tagore went to London and enrolled at a public school in Brighton, England, in the year 1878. Tagore wanted to become a barrister, but in 1880, he did not do well in school, and his father called him back from London. On December 9, 1883, Tagore got married to a girl of ten years, Mrinalini Devi. They had five children together, but two of them died in their childhood. During 1878 and 1932, Tagore visited thirty countries across five continents. Tagore wrote around 2,230 songs. His songs and music cover aspects of human emotion, devotional hymns and love songs. “Gitanjali” and “Jeevan Smriti” by Tagore are still cherished today. Tagore was also known as “Gurudev” and “Bard of Bengal”.
Here are a few things that you need to about him-
- He is the only person who has written anthems for three countries:
- Jana Gana Mana, the National anthem of India.
- Amar Shonar Bangla, the National anthem of Bangladesh.
- Sri Lanka Matha, the National anthem of Sri Lanka.
- Rabindranath Tagore was not only the first Asian to win a Noble prize but also the first non-European to mark his prominence in literature.
- He invested his Noble prize money in constructing the school “VisvaBharati” in Shantiniketan.
- In his last years, Tagore took up drawing and painting, and his works were successfully exhibited throughout Europe.
- He was knighted in 1915 by the King George V of England, for his extraordinary contributions to literature. But after the tragic massacre of Jallianwala Bagh in 1919, Tagore renounced his title.
- Tagore’s Literary Works Find Global Recognition
- The literary works of Tagore are translated into many other languages, and it also found acceptance in the West. Tagore’s poetries, philosophy and political beliefs are studied all over the world, even today.
- Rabindranath Tagore has inspired many generations through his writings, poetry and thoughts. ‘Gitanjali’ by Rabindranath Tagore was published in 1910; it was translated and published into English in 1912. Some of his timeless poems continue to resonate with his creative charm and are still relevant.
LATER YEARS AND DEATH
Tagore wrote a hundred-line poem about poverty in Kolkata. Tagore wrote fifteen volumes of prose poems. Tagore took an interest in science and essays in his later years. The health of Tagore in his last four years was deplorable. In late 1937, he lost consciousness. He was in a coma for a long time. Eventually, he woke up, but after three years, he went back into a coma. During these years, whenever he was conscious, he wrote poems. He wrote poems about how he came close to death. On August 7, 1941, at the age of 80, Rabindranath Tagore died in his childhood home in Kolkata.
RABINDRANATH TAGORE JAYANTI AMIDST THE PANDEMIC
A senior official said that due to the ongoing lockdown to fight with COVID-19, the West Bengal government has decided to celebrate the birth anniversary of Rabindranath Tagore less colourfully. The state government will observe the occasion of Rabindra Jayanti at 4 PM on May 8. The honourable chief minister will remain present at the programme. A big celebration like other years, social gatherings will not be allowed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The chief minister will garland the statue of Tagore, and the stage for singing will not be there, the official said.
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