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27 October 2008

APJ Abdul Kalam

A P J Abdul Kalam




Chapters 1-4
Describe briefly the place of Abdul Kalam’s birth.

A P J Abdul Kalam was born in 1931 to a little educated family of boat owners in Rameswaram. ‘Wings of Fire’ is a powerful autobiography of courage and belief, as much an individual journey as the saga of India’s search for scientific and technological self-sufficiently. He believed in, “We are born with a divine fire in us. Our efforts should be to give wings to this fire.” The fire to achieve and the wings of determination helped him to climb the ladder of success. Kalam had been previously awarded the Padma Bhushan in 1981, the Padma Vibhushan in 1990, and a recipient of India’s highest Civilian Awad, the Bharat Ratna, in 1997. He was sworn in as the Eleventh President of Inidia on 25th July 2002. He dreamt of transforming India a developed nation by 2020. He has been working as a Professor at Anna University, Chennai since 2007.

Abdul Kalam was born in the island town of Rameswaram in 1931. It was a part of Madras state, under the British rule. He was a short boy with ordinary looks. He and his family lived in their ancestral house, built of limestone and brick in the middle of the 19th century.Rameswaram was the centre place for pilgrims. The famous Siva temple was near to his house. Their locality was predominantly Muslim. He lived in the Mosque Street, which was named after old mosque in that area. People of both the religions, the Hindus and the Muslims lived in harmony and peace as neighbours. The high priest of the temple, Pakshi Lakshmana Sastry, was a very close friend of his father. They discussed spiritual matters.

Abdul Kalam’s father Jainulabdeen was neither educated nor very rich. But he was very generous. His mother Ashiamma, came from a more distinguished family, one of her ancestors had been given the title of ‘Bahadur’ by British. She was equally generous and they fed many outsiders everyday. He had a secure childhood, both materially and emotionally. His father was very religious. Though not very rich, essential needs food, medicine and clothes – were well provided for.

In the epic Ramayana, Rameswaram is the site form which Rama is said to have launced his assault on the evil King Ravan. During the annual Shri Sita Rama Kalyanam Ceremony, Kalam’s family arranged the boats, which carried the idols from the temple to the marriage site, situated in the middle of Rama Tritha Pond.
How did the cyclone that stuck the Rameswaram coast affect the author’s family business? How did they deal with the situation?

A P J Abdul Kalam was born in 1931 to a little educated family of boat owners in Rameswaram. ‘Wings of Fire’ is a powerful autobiography of courage and belief, as much an individual journey as the saga of India’s search for scientific and technological self-sufficiently. He believed in, “We are born with a divine fire in us. Our efforts should be to give wings to this fire.” The fire to achieve and the wings of determination helped him to climb the ladder of success. Kalam had been previously awarded the Padma Bhushan in 1981, the Padma Vibhushan in 1990, and a recipient of India’s highest Civilian Awad, the Bharat Ratna, in 1997. He was sworn in as the Eleventh President of Inidia on 25th July 2002. He dreamt of transforming India a developed nation by 2020. He has been working as a Professor at Anna University, Chennai since 2007.

Kalam’s father, Jainulabdeen, believed that whenever human beings find themselves alone or in distress, they look for company, help or consolation of some kind. Every suffering or desire, pain or hope finds a special helper. His father considered himself - a helper. He believed that with the help of prayer, worship or offerings, he can defeat evil or self-destructive forces. But with the help of prayer, he knew that they cannot slove day- to day problems. Prayer of this sort emanated fear among the people
. Fear often prevents one’s hope from being fulfilled.

“Happiness and peace of mind come to us from within and not from external sources. Once a person knows this, setback and hurdles become temporary.” Kalam was greatly influenced by his father’s philosophy.

Abdul Kalam was just about six years old, when his father decided to put his philosophy into practice. He decided to build a sail boat to ferry pilgrims from Rameswaram to Dhanuskodi and back. At first, his father made a brisk business. Unfortunately, sometime later, a severe cyclone struck the Rameswaram coast. The boat was wrecked in strong winds. His father was very calm, when he heard about the great doses incurred. In fact he was more bothered about a greater tragedy caused by a gale. The Pamban Bridge had collapsed during the cyclonic storm, when a train full of passengers was crossing over it.

His father got over loses quickly. But he was more bothered about the people who died crossing the bridge. The nature’s fury had caused a fearful disaster.

What even influenced the author to move away and study in Schwartz High School?

A P J Abdul Kalam was born in 1931 to a little educated family of boat owners in Rameswaram. ‘Wings of Fire’ is a powerful autobiography of courage and belief, as much an individual journey as the saga of India’s search for scientific and technological self-sufficiently. He believed in, “We are born with a divine fire in us. Our efforts should be to give wings to this fire.” The fire to achieve and the wings of determination helped him to climb the ladder of success. Kalam had been previously awarded the Padma Bhushan in 1981, the Padma Vibhushan in 1990, and a recipient of India’s highest Civilian Awad, the Bharat Ratna, in 1997. He was sworn in as the Eleventh President of Inidia on 25th July 2002. He dreamt of transforming India a developed nation by 2020. He has been working as a Professor at Anna University, Chennai since 2007.

Kalam learnt form his parents, their honesty and self-discipline, kindness and deep-rooted faith in goodness. He was also influenced by the thought and wisdom of Jainulabdeen and Samsuddin. He had three childhood friends – Ramanadha Sastry, Aravindan and Sivaprakasan. Kalam was once reprimanded by his teacher for sitting next to Ramanadha Sastry, who was son of Pakshi Lakshmana Sastry, the high priest of the Rameswaram Temple. Kalam had to sit at the back of the class, in accordance to his social ranking. But his Science teacher, Sivasubramania Iyer, was a person with a broad social look. An orthodox Brahmin, he was something rebel at heart. He often advised Kalam to develop his skills so that he can compete with the highly educated people in big cities.

Germany and Japan surrendered before the collective might of the Allied Forces and World War II was over. Freedom from British Rule was imminent for Indians. Mahatma Gandhi declared that “Indians would build their own India.” The whole country was filled with optimism. India was to get her freedom. People were enthusiastic. The same enthusiasm and optimism affected Abdul Kalam. He wanted to pursue his studies further. So, he decided to leave Rameswaram and study in Ramanathapuram, a much larger town. His father encouraged him saying that it was a part of growing up. He consoled him saying ‘our love will not bind you not will our needs hold you’.

Samsuddin and Jainulabdeen traveled with him to Ramanathapuram. Thus he was enrolled in Schwartz High School.

What was the important lesson that Iyadurai Solomon taught the author?

A P J Abdul Kalam was born in 1931 to a little educated family of boat owners in Rameswaram. ‘Wings of Fire’ is a powerful autobiography of courage and belief, as much an individual journey as the saga of India’s search for scientific and technological self-sufficiently. He believed in, “We are born with a divine fire in us. Our efforts should be to give wings to this fire.” The fire to achieve and the wings of determination helped him to climb the ladder of success. Kalam had been previously awarded the Padma Bhushan in 1981, the Padma Vibhushan in 1990, and a recipient of India’s highest Civilian Awad, the Bharat Ratna, in 1997. He was sworn in as the Eleventh President of Inidia on 25th July 2002. He dreamt of transforming India a developed nation by 2020. He has been working as a Professor at Anna University, Chennai since 2007.

Despite frequent bouts of home sickness, Abdul kalam was determined to settle down in the new environment. His father wanted him to be a Collector, so he thought that it was his duty to realize his father’s dream.

At the school, Kalam was a very enthusiastic fifteen-year-old student. He realized that desire to learn was very important. His guide was one of his teachers Iyadurai Solomon.

Iyadurai Solomon was warm and open-minded. He made his students feel comfortable in class. He developed self-confidence in Kalam. He made his realize that in order to make anything happen, he must desire it intensely. He must develop the confidence that it will happen. This advice turned into a motivating force and it helped him to make things work. He raised his self-esteem and convinced him of benefits of good education. He encouraged him saying that “with faith, you can change your destiny”.

Iyadurai Solomon had instilled enough self-confidence in him. By the time Kalam completed his education at Schwartz, he was confident and determined to succeed in life.

What was the emphasis on in the interview at the Air Force Selection? What do you understand from the way the author dealt with failing the interview?

A P J Abdul Kalam was born in 1931 to a little educated family of boat owners in Rameswaram. ‘Wings of Fire’ is a powerful autobiography of courage and belief, as much an individual journey as the saga of India’s search for scientific and technological self-sufficiently. He believed in, “We are born with a divine fire in us. Our efforts should be to give wings to this fire.” The fire to achieve and the wings of determination helped him to climb the ladder of success. Kalam had been previously awarded the Padma Bhushan in 1981, the Padma Vibhushan in 1990, and a recipient of India’s highest Civilian Awad, the Bharat Ratna, in 1997. He was sworn in as the Eleventh President of Inidia on 25th July 2002. He dreamt of transforming India a developed nation by 2020. He has been working as a Professor at Anna University, Chennai since 2007.

As a graduate in Aeronautical Engineering, Kalam wanted to realize his dream of flying. So he applied for a job in Indian Air Force and at the Directorate of Technical Development and Production (DTD & P).

Kalam was called for interview at both the places simultaneously. The Air Force authorities called him to Dehradun for an interview.

At the Selection Board, the emphasis was on personality, physical fitness and the ability to speak well. Kalm was excited but nervous, determined but anxious, confident but tense. He managed to finish ninth in the batch of 25 candidates, from which eight officers were selected to IAF.

Kalam was utterly disappointed. He had missed an opportunity to join the air force. It was difficulty for him to comprehend that he had missed the job narrowly. His dreams had been shattered, and now he had to look for an aternate career. He decided to go on a journey to relax his mind. The ideal place was Rishikesh, the place was known for its peaceful atmosphere. So, he trekked to the pilgrimage spot, with an aim to clear his mind.

Sivananda Ashram in Rishikesh, he met Swami Sivananda, who seemed to be an incarnation of Lord Buddha. Swami advised him to accept his destiny and to go ahead with his life. Perhaps God had a better future for him and his fate or destiny was pre-determined. He asked him to treat failure as a stepping stone to success.

Kalam realized the truth of these words. His bitterness and disappointment disappeared and he decided to return to Delhi and enquire about his interview at DTD & P (AIR).

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