Who is the 12th President of India ? ….hmmmm like you, I have struggled with that name. Who was the 1st President of independent India ? Easy-Peasy, Dr. Rajendra Prasad. Who succeeded him ? Illustrious Dr. Radhakrishnan. And then I don’t remember many of them except Giani Zail Singh for his devotion to Mrs. Indira Gandhi and Dr. Shankar Dayal Sharma for holding up the “darshan” at Tirupati and ofcourse losing his son to terrorism…
Then came the missile man riding on a comet and suddenly everyone had a hero to look up to. He threw open the gates of his official residence and more importantly opened his heart and embraced all of us. No one cared that he wasn’t “technically” handsome or that he was a political novice or that he didn’t speak Hindi fluently or that he was a boat man’s son. Everyone just loved his childlike curiosity, his genuine humility, his deep patriotism and his overflowing enthusiasm for life. For a nation starved of heroes, here was a true-blue hero – an extraordinary man with an ordinary background. He was inspirational, his life was synonymous with inspiration and we just loved him.
A second term was really unnecessary because he was by then our “forever” President. Whoever became President after him had to be God to be even acknowledged. The 12th President neither made an attempt nor had the stature to fill any part of Dr. Kalam’s shoes and in a way the then UPA government handed over a second term to Dr. Kalam on a platter by choosing who they did. When Dr. Kalam passed away .. Even the newscasters stuttered while using the word “former” President – it just doesn’t roll off our tongues so easily. That’s the greatness of this man.
My most favorite quote on leadership is what John Maxwell said “Leadership is not about titles, positions or flowcharts. It’s about one life influencing another.” And Dr. Kalam is the example of this – his life influenced a minimum of three generations and will continue to influence many more !! All those that aspire to leadership at work, or in life, remember Dr. Kalam and know that he didn’t need a title, a position or any designation to be a leader. So stop hankering after these and start working on yourself.
Dr. Kalam, farewell till we meet you again. The Maker has no choice but to send you back to this world because for mankind to continue, you are His missile, His instrument ….. left to us, we will do a fine job of killing ourselves and Mother Earth. Thank you Teacher !