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Books > History > Literary > The Very Best of A.P.J Abdul Kalam - The Righteous Life (Selected Writings and Lectures)
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The Very Best of A.P.J Abdul Kalam - The Righteous Life (Selected Writings and Lectures)
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Back of the Book

Dr Kalam, who was India's eleventh President and has been a scientist and a teacher, has written more than twenty books. Ranging from inspirational and spiritual thoughts to autobiographical reflections to his vision statements for a developed India, these works bear the imprint of a mind that is deeply reflective.

For the first time, a selection of the most thoughtful, inspiring and educative of these writings have been compiled in one place in The Righteous Life. Some of the essays in this volume describe his early life, family and teachers and his entry into the world of scientific development and research. Also included are his thoughts on education, governance, probity in public life, and his analysis and solutions to some of India's problems such as corruption, energy independence and the overall development of the country.

Filled with wisdom and far-sighted thinking that upholds honesty, diligence and spirituality, The Righteous Life showcases one of the finest minds in the country.

About the Author

Born on 15 October 1931, at Rameswaram in Tamil Nadu, Dr Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam specialized in Aeronautical Engineering from Madras Institute of Technology. Dr Kalam is one of the most distinguished scientists of India and has been awarded the Padma Bhushan (1981), the Padma Vibhushan (1990) and India's highest civilian award, the Bharat Ratna (1997). Dr Kalam became the eleventh President of India on 25 July 2002. His focus and greatest ambition remains finding ways that will transform India into a developed nation.

Introduction

Avul Pakir jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam’s life story has been written about and recorded by himself and other many times. The story of a boy from a small coastal town in south India, one of many siblings, who goes out into the wide world, excels in scientific research and mission management and finally becomes the eleventh President of India, is the quintessential India story of hard work, intelligence and tenacity. Yet Dr. Kalam’s life or his thoughts can hardly be contained in only his story. Like a stone tossed into a pond, his life has given rise to so many ripples, each growing wider, each touching other minds and other lives.

The beginning lays in a house near the Bay of Bengal, in Rameswaram, a town known throughout the country as an important pilgrimage spot for Hindus. It was into the most luxurious of homes but one filled with love and piety. Little Abdul’s father was a prominent Muslim inhabitant of the island and Abdul deeplu admired and respected him. In his books Wings of Fire and My Journey, he has written about his father-hi faithfulness , his contemplativeness and how he helped people with his sage advice and prayers. Abdul’s mother was an equally big influence on him. He describes her as busy , efficient, keeping a large household running on a limited budget yet never stinting on her love or time with him . He was, he has written, perhaps her favourite child often often allowed to rest his head on her lap when all the others had been sent to bed. From that memory of warmth came this poem :

Mother

I still remember the day when I was ten, sleeping on your lap to the envy of my elder brothers and sisters.

It was full moon night, my world only you knew Mother, My Mother! When at midnight, I woke with tears falling on my knee you knew the pain of your child, My Mother. Your caring hands, tenderly removing the pain your love, your care, your faith gave me strength, to face the world without fear and with His strength. We will meet again on the great Judgment Day. My Mother! Kalam's descriptions of growing up in Rameswaram, his teachers, his school friends, tutors, cousins and the everyday life of a small town at the time of India's Independence are some of the most interesting and poignant parts of his writing. His first job as a newspaper delivery boy, the easy coexistence of people from different religions in a town famous for its Shiva temple, the various moods of the sea and the tides have all been described by him and eventually shaped who he became.

From Rameswaram, Kalam went to Ramanathapuram, Trichi and then Madras for his higher studies, finally graduating in engineering. In all these places he had teachers who influenced him and left their mark on his mind, making him more open and confident while also opening up a new world of scientific thinking to him. The first such teacher was Iyadurai Solomon, at Schwartz High School, Ramanathapuram, of whom he writes:

In his company, I learnt that one could exercise enormous influence over the events of one's own life. Iyadurai Solomon used to say, 'to succeed in life and achieve results, you must understand and master three mighty forces—desire, belief and expectation.' ...Iyadurai Solomon was a great teacher because he instilled in all the children a sense of their own worth. Solomon raised my self-esteem to a high point and convinced me, the son of parents who had not had the benefits of education that I too could aspire to become whatever I wished. 'With faith, you can change your destiny,' he would say.

Other teachers followed who saw the spark in the shy but bright boy in their class and took him under their wings. He has written and spoken about the importance of teachers in the development of the mind of the child and went on to become a passionate teacher himself, holding large gatherings of students, adults, even world leaders in his thrall. His vision of education and teaching goes beyond the classroom, to this:

For enabling empowerment of the students, we need teachers who love teaching. The teacher should realize that he or she has to ignite the minds of the youth which is the most powerful resource on the earth, above the earth and under the earth. The teacher becomes a great teacher only when he or she is able to lift the average student to excellent performance by way of special teaching techniques. The conduct of the teacher inside and outside the school should become a great message to the student in shaping their career. The teacher has to fill his or her mind with great thoughts and spread the nobility in thinking and action.

While studying in Madras, Kalam had become fascinated by flying and aircraft engineering. He had set his heart on becoming an Air Force pilot. However, he narrowly missed making it, and took up a job at the Directorate of Technical Development & Production (Air) as Senior Scientific Assistant. From there, as he got involved in various defence and aeronautical projects, he was recruited by Dr Vikram Sarabhai into the Indian National Committee for Space Research (INCOSPAR), the forerunner of what would become. The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). Dr Sarabhai, charged with developing an indigenous space programme for the country, had drawn up a vision document to achieve this, and Kalam ended up playing a key role in this. He has written in detail about the leadership qualities he learnt from stalwarts like Dr Vikram Sarabhai, Prof. Satish Dhawan and Dr Brahm Prakash. 

Contents

Contents  
Introduction ix
Section 1: The Journey Wings of Fire 3
Three Great Hearts Resolve a Problem 11
My Mother and My Sister 18
Into the World of Rocketry 25
My Mentor: Dr Vikram Sarabhai 27
Teachers and Awards 35
Light Up the Sky 37
A Conversation 42
Seven Turning Points of My Life 46
`I am a Well in This Great Land' 54
Section 2: Inspirations  
The Message in the Cave 61
Five Mighty Souls 63
The Joy of Reading 68
Section 3: The Presidential Years  
The Interactive President 77
Section 4: Vision 2020: On Leadership,Governance and Abiding Values  
The Knowledge Society 91
Education Enhances the Dignity of Human Life 100
Creative Leadership: The Essence of Good Governance 107
Abiding Values 116
E-governance for Transparent Societies 126
The Effects of Corruption 137
The Vision for a New India 143
The Environment Challenge 162
Section 5: Lectures  
Speech at the National Conference on Vision 2026,New Delhi, 26 November 2006 171
Address at the inaugural session of the Pan-African Parliament, 16 September 2004 173
Address to the European Parliament at Strasbourg, 24 April 2007 177
Address at the National Assembly, Philippines, 8 February 2006 189
Thanks-Giving Address to the Nation, 24 July 2007 200
Section 6: Meeting Young Minds  
Give Us a Role Model 213
Conversations 222
Acknowledgements 225


Sample Pages





The Very Best of A.P.J Abdul Kalam - The Righteous Life (Selected Writings and Lectures)

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Back of the Book

Dr Kalam, who was India's eleventh President and has been a scientist and a teacher, has written more than twenty books. Ranging from inspirational and spiritual thoughts to autobiographical reflections to his vision statements for a developed India, these works bear the imprint of a mind that is deeply reflective.

For the first time, a selection of the most thoughtful, inspiring and educative of these writings have been compiled in one place in The Righteous Life. Some of the essays in this volume describe his early life, family and teachers and his entry into the world of scientific development and research. Also included are his thoughts on education, governance, probity in public life, and his analysis and solutions to some of India's problems such as corruption, energy independence and the overall development of the country.

Filled with wisdom and far-sighted thinking that upholds honesty, diligence and spirituality, The Righteous Life showcases one of the finest minds in the country.

About the Author

Born on 15 October 1931, at Rameswaram in Tamil Nadu, Dr Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam specialized in Aeronautical Engineering from Madras Institute of Technology. Dr Kalam is one of the most distinguished scientists of India and has been awarded the Padma Bhushan (1981), the Padma Vibhushan (1990) and India's highest civilian award, the Bharat Ratna (1997). Dr Kalam became the eleventh President of India on 25 July 2002. His focus and greatest ambition remains finding ways that will transform India into a developed nation.

Introduction

Avul Pakir jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam’s life story has been written about and recorded by himself and other many times. The story of a boy from a small coastal town in south India, one of many siblings, who goes out into the wide world, excels in scientific research and mission management and finally becomes the eleventh President of India, is the quintessential India story of hard work, intelligence and tenacity. Yet Dr. Kalam’s life or his thoughts can hardly be contained in only his story. Like a stone tossed into a pond, his life has given rise to so many ripples, each growing wider, each touching other minds and other lives.

The beginning lays in a house near the Bay of Bengal, in Rameswaram, a town known throughout the country as an important pilgrimage spot for Hindus. It was into the most luxurious of homes but one filled with love and piety. Little Abdul’s father was a prominent Muslim inhabitant of the island and Abdul deeplu admired and respected him. In his books Wings of Fire and My Journey, he has written about his father-hi faithfulness , his contemplativeness and how he helped people with his sage advice and prayers. Abdul’s mother was an equally big influence on him. He describes her as busy , efficient, keeping a large household running on a limited budget yet never stinting on her love or time with him . He was, he has written, perhaps her favourite child often often allowed to rest his head on her lap when all the others had been sent to bed. From that memory of warmth came this poem :

Mother

I still remember the day when I was ten, sleeping on your lap to the envy of my elder brothers and sisters.

It was full moon night, my world only you knew Mother, My Mother! When at midnight, I woke with tears falling on my knee you knew the pain of your child, My Mother. Your caring hands, tenderly removing the pain your love, your care, your faith gave me strength, to face the world without fear and with His strength. We will meet again on the great Judgment Day. My Mother! Kalam's descriptions of growing up in Rameswaram, his teachers, his school friends, tutors, cousins and the everyday life of a small town at the time of India's Independence are some of the most interesting and poignant parts of his writing. His first job as a newspaper delivery boy, the easy coexistence of people from different religions in a town famous for its Shiva temple, the various moods of the sea and the tides have all been described by him and eventually shaped who he became.

From Rameswaram, Kalam went to Ramanathapuram, Trichi and then Madras for his higher studies, finally graduating in engineering. In all these places he had teachers who influenced him and left their mark on his mind, making him more open and confident while also opening up a new world of scientific thinking to him. The first such teacher was Iyadurai Solomon, at Schwartz High School, Ramanathapuram, of whom he writes:

In his company, I learnt that one could exercise enormous influence over the events of one's own life. Iyadurai Solomon used to say, 'to succeed in life and achieve results, you must understand and master three mighty forces—desire, belief and expectation.' ...Iyadurai Solomon was a great teacher because he instilled in all the children a sense of their own worth. Solomon raised my self-esteem to a high point and convinced me, the son of parents who had not had the benefits of education that I too could aspire to become whatever I wished. 'With faith, you can change your destiny,' he would say.

Other teachers followed who saw the spark in the shy but bright boy in their class and took him under their wings. He has written and spoken about the importance of teachers in the development of the mind of the child and went on to become a passionate teacher himself, holding large gatherings of students, adults, even world leaders in his thrall. His vision of education and teaching goes beyond the classroom, to this:

For enabling empowerment of the students, we need teachers who love teaching. The teacher should realize that he or she has to ignite the minds of the youth which is the most powerful resource on the earth, above the earth and under the earth. The teacher becomes a great teacher only when he or she is able to lift the average student to excellent performance by way of special teaching techniques. The conduct of the teacher inside and outside the school should become a great message to the student in shaping their career. The teacher has to fill his or her mind with great thoughts and spread the nobility in thinking and action.

While studying in Madras, Kalam had become fascinated by flying and aircraft engineering. He had set his heart on becoming an Air Force pilot. However, he narrowly missed making it, and took up a job at the Directorate of Technical Development & Production (Air) as Senior Scientific Assistant. From there, as he got involved in various defence and aeronautical projects, he was recruited by Dr Vikram Sarabhai into the Indian National Committee for Space Research (INCOSPAR), the forerunner of what would become. The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). Dr Sarabhai, charged with developing an indigenous space programme for the country, had drawn up a vision document to achieve this, and Kalam ended up playing a key role in this. He has written in detail about the leadership qualities he learnt from stalwarts like Dr Vikram Sarabhai, Prof. Satish Dhawan and Dr Brahm Prakash. 

Contents

Contents  
Introduction ix
Section 1: The Journey Wings of Fire 3
Three Great Hearts Resolve a Problem 11
My Mother and My Sister 18
Into the World of Rocketry 25
My Mentor: Dr Vikram Sarabhai 27
Teachers and Awards 35
Light Up the Sky 37
A Conversation 42
Seven Turning Points of My Life 46
`I am a Well in This Great Land' 54
Section 2: Inspirations  
The Message in the Cave 61
Five Mighty Souls 63
The Joy of Reading 68
Section 3: The Presidential Years  
The Interactive President 77
Section 4: Vision 2020: On Leadership,Governance and Abiding Values  
The Knowledge Society 91
Education Enhances the Dignity of Human Life 100
Creative Leadership: The Essence of Good Governance 107
Abiding Values 116
E-governance for Transparent Societies 126
The Effects of Corruption 137
The Vision for a New India 143
The Environment Challenge 162
Section 5: Lectures  
Speech at the National Conference on Vision 2026,New Delhi, 26 November 2006 171
Address at the inaugural session of the Pan-African Parliament, 16 September 2004 173
Address to the European Parliament at Strasbourg, 24 April 2007 177
Address at the National Assembly, Philippines, 8 February 2006 189
Thanks-Giving Address to the Nation, 24 July 2007 200
Section 6: Meeting Young Minds  
Give Us a Role Model 213
Conversations 222
Acknowledgements 225


Sample Pages





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