By Maulana Wahiduddin Khan
Jul 28, 2015
APJ Abdul Kalam, former President of India, was a man of integrity. Intellectually, he was scientific in temper and morally, a very humble person. He was born into a poor South Indian family which could not even afford to pay his school fees. But he worked very hard and continued with his education, and consequently went on to become a highly respected aerospace scientist in the country.
Abdul Kalam was not “born with a silver spoon in his mouth;” yet he was born with a great “incentive spoon” which was responsible for his tremendous success. His self-motivation and high ideals helped him, and he rose to the highest office of the country to become the president of India. Kalam’s life has a very significant lesson, that is, that people’s categorisation into rich and poor or haves and have-nots is unrealistic. The real categorisation is that people are either actual haves or potential haves. Those who today apparently belong to the category of have-nots can convert their potential into actuality, and thus enter the category of haves.
Kalam once said that ‘If a country is to be corruption-free and become a nation of beautiful minds, I strongly feel there are three key societal members who can make a difference. They are the father, mother and teacher.’ This statement is a correct analysis of nation-building, because a person develops his personality in his formative period, during which he is under the supervision of his parents and teachers. If these three members of society resolve to guide the child in the right direction, then within one generation the whole situation of India will undergo a drastic change.
Regarding youth, Kalam said: ‘My message, especially to young people, is to have courage to think differently, to invent, to travel the unexplored path, discover the impossible and to overcome problems and succeed. These are great qualities that they must work towards.’ If we express these qualities in one word, it can be said that young people should make ‘excellence’ their goal; they should not accept anything less than striving for the excellent. In doing so, not only will they reach great heights of success, but will also be able to reform society along constructive lines.
It is said that even amidst his tight schedule, Kalam found time to put pen to paper, almost every day. This is a very creative habit because if a person restricts himself only to routine office work, he will experience intellectual stagnation. However, if he makes time for reading and writing, his intellectual development will go on unhindered.
Once, Kalam said, ‘India has a message for the world that religion could be transformed into a mighty spiritual force.’ This is without doubt a realistic statement, because India has traditionally been a country of high spiritual values. If India develops in spirituality, it will certainly become a lighthouse of spirituality for the world.
When Kalam was president, a reporter who was interviewing him was referring to him as “Your Excellency”. Kalam cut him short, saying, ‘Call me Kalam.’ This is the key to Kalam’s personality—he was modest to the core. His message is: Be modest and you will achieve success.