Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam has always been known for his knowledge and kindness. Here are some real-life incidents that show how inspiring the man has always been:
1. When he made sure Indian scientists got VIP treatment at the Paris airport.
When some ISRO scientists were returning from Kourou, French Guiana, after overseeing the testing of INSAT-4B communications satellite, they did not expect what was to follow at the Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris. After checking their passports, the airport officers continued to escort them. Confused, the scientists asked if there was any problem when the officer said they had orders to do so.
A senior officer then asked them to access the VIP Lounge of the Airline as their flight was scheduled after three hours. When the scientists told them that they had economy tickets, the officer informed that president Dr APJ Abdul Kalam was boarding a flight from the same terminal a few hours back, and had informed them that scientists from ISRO would be using their services as there is a satellite launch. He also requested them to take care of them.
Amused, the scientists stayed in the lounge for those 3 hours and later left in their flight. In spite of his busy schedule, Dr Kalam remembered that there was a launch scheduled and that many scientists would be traveling to and from India to ensure a successful mission.
- Abhilash Manjunath
2. When his team worker could not take his kids to an exhibition because of hectic work, he did!
During a hectic project, one of the 70 scientists working on it asked Dr Kalam if he could leave at 5.30 pm that evening as he had promised to take his kids to an exhibition. Dr. Kalam gave him permission. However, the scientist got busy with work only to realise that it was 8.30 pm. When he looked for his boss, he wasn't there. Guilty for having disappointed his kids, he went back home only to find that his kids weren't there. When he asked his wife where they were, she replied, "You don't know? Your manager came here at 5.15 pm and took the children to the exhibition."
When Dr. Kalam noticed him working hard at 5pm, he thought to himself that this person would not leave work, but if he had promised his children, they should definitely enjoy the exhibition. So he, the boss, took the lead and took them there!
3. When he asked an Indian student to have dinner from his plate.
When some Indian students met him during the International Space Development Conference (ISDC) at San Diego, California, in 2013, they went up to his dining table to say hello. The President, who was eating dinner, asked a student to eat from his plate. Highly surprised, he took a leaf of spinach from his salad when he insisted. "Till this day I take it to be a leaf of inspiration from him and the best dinner I could ever imagine," he shared.
- Kshitij Mall
4. When he did not want broken glass on the walls because it could harm the birds!
While he was working on a construction project with DRDO, he asked the team what would they do to ensure security around a certain building. The team lead suggested: "Broken glass on the walls."
The former President was quick to turn down the suggestion. He said, "The birds cannot perch on the wall. Think of something else." A politician who thought about birds as much as he did about people! - Shreya Samesh
5. When an excited kid drew a sketch of him and he sent a thank you letter!
A Class 6 student made Kalam's sketch after reading his book, 'Wings Of Fire.' When he showed it around in the family, his family got super excited and asked him to mail it to the President. A little hesitant at first, he still did so. But little was he expecting what happened next. A couple of days later, he got a letter from the President himself!
"I opened the prized-envelope with utmost care and took out a small note. It said 'Dear Naman Narain, Thank you for your nice drawing. With best wishes from, Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam'."
Till this date I keep the card safe with me. - Naman Narain
6. When he gave a back bencher an internship with the Rasthrapati Bhawan.
A batch of IIM, Indore, students were to give a presentation to Mr. Kalam in groups. Since this was a big chance to impress the President, everyone was trying hard, except this one group of so-called casual students, the back benchers. They started working 2 days before the D day. One of the students took the responsibility to format the presentation. While the content took half a day, he took 1.5 days with no sleep to add colour, formatting and animation to the slides.
When the group presented the presentation, Dr. Kalam asked who did the formatting. He gave that guy a golden visiting card saying "ex-President India" printed on it and asked him to call at the office after two days. When the guy made the call, he was told that he had been chosen for an internship at his office and will be working on various presentations that he needs for the UNO.
7. When he invited a cobbler as a Presidential guest.
Right after Dr. Abdul Kalam was elected as the President, he attended an event at Kerala Raj Bhavan in Trivandrum. With the power vested in him, he could have invited any two people as the Presidential guests. Guess who he called? A road side cobbler and the owner of a very small hotel.
Dr. Kalam had spent a significant time as a scientist in Trivandrum. He invited the cobbler and the hotel owner, both of whom he was close to during his time in Kerala.
No other politician can do this, can they?
8. When he refused to sit on a chair reserved for him because it was bigger than the other chairs!
Dr. Kalam was invited as the chief guest at the convocation ceremony at IIT, Varanasi. Five chairs were put on the stage, the middle one being for Kalam and the others for the university officials. When Dr. Kalam noticed that his chair was bigger in size than the others, he refused to sit on it and politely asked the vice-chancellor to sit instead. When the chancellor did not, another chair of the same size was made available for Dr. Kalam!
9. When he asked people on Yahoo how we could free our planet from terrorism.
Now which other politician would do that? The best part is that the who's who of the nation replied to Dr. Kalam, including Leander Paes, Kiran Bedi and Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. You can see the post here.
10. When he was about to deliver a lecture to 400 students and the power went off, he took the matter in to his own hands.
When Dr. Kalam was about to deliver a lecture at a small school, the electricity went off. Instead of panicking or waiting for it to come back, he walked right in to the middle of the crowd pointing towards the students to surround him. He went on to deliver another inspiring lecture with his bare, powerful voice!