3 days ago, on 27th July, the beloved 11th president of India, A.P.J. Abdul Kalam passed away. Social media has been awash with condolences. We asked two of our authors, who had the priviledge of meeting him in person, to share their thoughts with us.

A Memorable Day in My Life – By Dr S K Haldar
It was 2002, Dr Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam was visiting and addressing school children in remote areas and city schools in all corners of the country. As part of that, he also came to Udaipur. He has a busy schedule the whole day with the local school children. He wanted to address the citizens of Udaipur at the end of the day. The talk was schedule to start at 6 in the evening in the auditorium of Udaipur Medical College and I was fortunate to be an invitee.

I reached the venue at 5 PM as is my nature and being the first person in the audience, I sat right in the front row. Soon people started coming in and taking their seats. Around 5:40 pm, there was some commotion at the entry door and I saw the great noble soul appear. He looked at clock on the wall, picked up an ordinary chair and sat in front of me. I wished him, he reciprocated and extended his hand. He proposed the people should ask him questions till the official program began. He was a good listener. The chairman of the occasion was yet to reach the venue.

At exact 6 PM he stopped the discussion, went to the podium, took the microphone and started addressing the audience. He was a good story teller and I remember one such story he told. He was invited by his doctor friend for diner at their house in Tamil Nadu. Both the doctor and his wife were medical professionals and wanted their only daughter to go to medical school.  But the daughter wanted to study physics. Their only request to Dr Kalam was to convince their daughter to join the noble medical course. Dr Kalam had a discussion with the girl for almost an hour and listened to her quietly. She was very sincere and focused. She wanted to study physics because her ultimate goal was to be a missile scientist.  Dr Kalam came out of the room and told the parents that he will either join the diner and pay for it or else he will skip the diner as he could not convince the young student. He was very clear that the parents may guide their child but the student should opt to follow the career he/she likes best.

By that time the chairman of the ceremony reached the venue, extend his sincere apologies for not being on time and requested him to visit Udaipur at the end of the year to receive the “Moharana Mewar Annua Award”.He came to Udaipur again for receiving the award and I was fortunate to see him again. 

“My sincere salute to People’s President, AJP Abdul Kalam”
Remembering Dr Kalam – By Dr Daya Kishore Hazra

Today I remember how I was privileged to meet President Dr Abdul Kalam to present my dream of a Therapeutic Biomolecule Centre  for India (similar to that in the UK at Oxford ) to develop lead molecules- monoclonal antibodies and peptides -, as targeted therapy missiles- for treating cancers and infections at affordable prices  without exorbitantly priced imports… He was gracious, affectionate, and immediately suggested an action plan linking INMAS and a prominent biotechnology corporation. That was just a few months before his Presidential term finished, and I still hope to achieve this, and I am sure that had he continued for a second term, this dream would already have seen fruition! My homage to this great but disarmingly humble son of India.