“Dream is not that which you see while sleeping, it is something that does not let you sleep” – Dr APJ Abdul Kalam
The unbelievable has happened. That Dr APJ Abdul Kalam is no more. Soon, the news spread like a wildfire. As usual, TV channels were chocking with what they called ‘Breaking News’ and social networking sites were blasted with the sad news, of course very sad news, but turn out to be true. Much as I wish that the news was wrong, however, the unbelievable has finally happened galvanizing the nation’s in tears.
Just as every Indian was in tears, I am also immensely saddened and mournful at the sudden demise of our former President, Dr APJ Abdul Kalam. His was a source of inspiration for all. He was a great visionary in thought, a statesman in action, a spiritualist at heart, a nationalist to the core, and above all an outstanding scientist. What I like and admire in him was his sense of ‘utmost’ humility. A down-to-earth in personality, he meant what he says and stood tough for it, come what may. He never accept ‘no’ for an answer. He never retracted from where he has already made a promise and commitment.
The Calling : Meeting the President
Nearly ten years ago, I have the rare opportunity to meet Dr Kalam at his chamber in RashtrapatiBhavan, on 12th April, 2006, to be precise. It was a one-to-one encounter, lasting for about 20mins. When I faxed a letter seeking appointment with him, I was not hopeful of granting one. Instead, I was a bit nervous, taking stock of my humble background, coming from a small and hitherto unknown hamlet. A private citizen.A village school’s headmaster. No attractive profile of short. Nothing, nothing at all. Deep in my mind, I was even thinking whether I would be jailed for sending letter to the President. Oh! unexpected as it was, my Nokia 1100 model phone was ringing. A thrilling news came then, a call from the RashtrapatiBhavan. I was too excited to hear the voice on the other side conveying that ‘The President would meet you tomorrow at 11:00am’.
That was the 11th day of April 2006. Since I was determined to grab the opportunity, I started preparing a five-point representation throughout the night, without enjoying the slightest sleep, for the next day’s ‘encounter’ . I am still surprise wondering what made me to put up a brave face before him. I must admit, nervousness was too luxury for me to be afforded on that day. On second thought, I realise that it was the dream and vision to do something beautiful for the rural masses to which I belong that put me to take the burden of extra miles to call on the President of India.
What have exactly pushed me to approach the President was the vision to be apart of his dream – the dream to make India a ‘developed’ nation by 2020. It was the time when the whole country was in the wave of Indo – US nuclear deal. As the President was going through my representation, point after point, I have advanced my thought telling him, but politely, that though ‘Krishnamurthy may be more popular than Christopher in the Silicon valley, the fact is that there are hundereds of tribal students who does not see computer with their own eyes’. I also furtherence my point to tell him about the lack of educational facilities in the hill areas of Manipur. One point that I strongly advocated before him and still relevant till today was to introduce pre-matric scholarship for tribal students, as is the practise with post-matric scholarship. I cited my experience telling him that about 50% of tribal students were unable to purchase books from the open markets. Towards the end of our discussion, I requested the President to visit the nondescript locality where I belonged. The President, at first, was not favourable to the idea citing that he had already visited Manipur in 2002. To add a stronger force to my invitation, I told him boldly that, the ‘real’ India lies in rural areas. After much pushed and repeated request, the President obliged, finally. My conviction was that, if the President was to visit my village, his visitation would herald atleast a little bit of development for the people of the area, if not many things and more. My conviction proved the desired effect – the state PWD swung into action completing black-topping of 5kms long road from Moirang to Bunglawn in two weeks, which was left unattended for the last 60 years. A new power transformer was fitted. A new water pipelines were arranged for the villagers. A helipad was constructed and the school was painted a new face lift. It was learnt that the Government spent about 2.5 crore for the ‘Great October Visit’. All in all, the people of the area received so much of the visit – a new dawn for the people of Kapaih Valley!!!
The Promise : Visiting Bunglawn
Six months down the line, keeping the ‘promise’ to his heart, Dr APJ Abdul Kalam, the President of India, was flesh and blood at Bunglawn, on the historic 16th October 2006, interacting with students and public, and meeting with the village chiefs of the area, for an hour. What was noteworthy was the fact that, as the program got over and the President was about to leave the school campus, whilst his aides waiting with the door of his car’s opened, the President took the opposite direction, walked towards the school children, chatted with them and shook hands with them. No wonder, he was the ‘real’ President in its true sense – The People’s President!! Standing besides him, I commented that ‘We are more Indians today than 60 years ago’. Indeed, it was the day that changed my life!!! The opening remarks of the memorable ‘Possibling Impossible’ speech of Dr APJ Abdul Kalam – ‘Gin Gangte is my friend’ – is still fresh as the morning breeze and will continue to ring in my ears for times to come.
Hark! in postmorteming the event, which was to say, a milestone in the annals of history, much more than the visit was the fulfillment of his promise that he had committed in the summer of 2006, it was more of his love for the poor and the down-troden, the people who are on the fringe of social and economic deprivation. Though there was no further communication between us during the last six months, it was like a ‘manna’ from Heaven to receive a letter from RashtrapatiBhavan dated 28th September 2006, informing that the ‘President would be visiting Bunglon High School on 16th October 2006’. I was in cloud nine as I heard that piece of ‘big’ news. With the news of the imminent visit of the President of India spread nooks and corners of the state, the hitherto little known Bunglawn has become the destiny of Who’s Who of Manipur, the Bethlehem. From the Deputy Commissioner to the Chief Minister to the Governor, you name it, all were there. The road that the President took to reach the ‘destined’ Bunglawn is now known as ‘Dr Kalam Road’. A Computer Centre & Science Lab – A project of Dr Abdul Kalam was opened at the school campus on January 11, 2011 by the then Governor of Manipur, Dr S SSidhu. God is good, all the time!!!
Dr.Kalam’sIndia : A Vision for Development
Today, as Dr Abdul Kalam had left us, and his mortal remains laid to rest in eternity in Rameswaram, from where he began his journey of life, my nerve has been weakened, extremely weakened – my heart cry for the great soul of India. India has lost one of the most illustrious sons, a great motivator, a thinker – setting agendas for 1.2 billion Indians. With the passing away of our former President of India, he has left to us a momentous taks, where we all have a duty to perform. It is a well-known fact that Dr Kalam has visioned for a strong and powerful India in the comity of nations. He has outlined his dreams and visons in several books he has penned with, in his public speeches, interviews, et al. He strongly felt the need for bridging the rural-urban divides in order to avoid large scale migration. Ergo, he has came up with the policy, which is now known as ‘Providing Urban Amenities to Rural Areas’, in short (PURA). He also campaigned for a corruption-free India for the over all development of the nation, and suggested for moral teachings at home, schools, colleges and universities. When many are talking about nuclear and weaponry super power, Dr Kalam, on the other hand, had visioned for a ‘knowledge super power’ for India. The best tribute, therefore, we can give to Dr Kalam is to follow his dreams and visions, his thoughts and actions, with determination and a high degree of commitment in all spheres of our life. It’s true, he is no more with us, in flesh and blood, but the idea and his vision will remain forever. I sincerely hope and pray that his pet project of ‘India Vision 2020’ would, for sure, see the light of the day, in reality, sooner than later.
In death, he shall be still alive in our hearts, evermore!!!
#ýMangpha, , PuKalam!!!
#ýAdieu, , Dr Kalam!!!
( The writer is News Editor, All India Radio, Aizawl. He can be reached at g[email protected] /[email protected]. Facebook @ Gin Gangte )