To honour and mark the importance of India's 11th President APJ Abdul Kalam, in 2010 the United Nations declared his birthday on 15 October to be celebrated as World Students Day.
Before being fondly remembered as the "People's President", Kalam's legacy will be fragmented without noting his role as a teacher. His endeavours were not just limited to teaching, but his contribution as scientist and science administrator in nations's civilian space program and military missile development efforts were well recognised.
India's Missile Man
With a background in aerospace engineering, Kalam came to be known as the 'Missile Man of India' for his work on Pokhran-II nuclear tests, a series of five nuclear bomb test explosions conducted by India in 1998.
After graduating from MIT in 1958, he applied to fly fighter aircrafts for a young Indian Air Force. However, he missed the opportunity after securing the ninth spot on the list when there were openings for only eight posts.
On his love for teaching
In the President's Address at the presentation of National Award to Teachers in 2006, Kalam had said, "Teachers have to realize that they are the builders of the society. The society can be built only when the students are made proficient in their subjects. In addition they have to provide a vision for life to the students and also inculcate the fundamentals of values which he should practice in the years to come."
Owing to his compassion for students, several educational institutions observe Kalam's birthday.
Some of his popular sayings, referring to students include: "Let us sacrifice our today so that our children can have a better tomorrow."
Recently on 16 June, a BJP leader from Telangana proposed to the Centre to observe Kalam's birthday as National Students Day.
Ripples of inspiration reached overseas
After his visit to Switzerland in 2005, the country commemorated 26 May as Science Day as a mark of respect and in honour of his visit.
Kalam was endowed with prestigious awards such as the Padma Bhushan in 1981 and the Padma Vibhushan in 1990.
He was later awarded the Bharat Ratna, the highest-civilian award, for his contributions to research, the field of science as well as his work with the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).
Kalam is among only three presidents of India who were conferred the Bharat Ratna before they were elected President.
The former president also authored books like – Wings of Fire, My Journey, Ignited Minds – Unleashing the Power Within India and India 2020 – A Vision for the New Millennium.
Kalam breathed his last in 2015 after suffering a cardiac arrest while delivering a speech at the Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Shillong.
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Updated Date: Oct 15, 2019 09:45:30 IST