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Who is Kalam? Not just our President!

Read "Ignited Minds"? And you thought you knew all there was to the President? Read again. This time pick up R. Ramanathan's book, "Who Is Kalam?", releasing today. ANUJ KUMAR gives an insight... .

Photo: Sandeep Saxena.

WORDS AND WORDSMITH: R. Ramanathan with his work, "Who Is Kalam?".

Q. PLEASE rank yourself among the following - Scientist, Tamil, Human Being and Indian.

A. One can find all three in a human being.

Though this solo question-answer session with Sudarkkodi, a girl from the Vellore district of Tamil Nadu is enough to understand the quintessential Kalam but R. Ramanathan has used 232 pages to sketch the personality and thoughts of the man in "Who Is Kalam?" to satiate the craving of millions. Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam has a proclivity for adding popularity to the chair and title he holds rather than the usual other way round. But, a biography after an autobiography?

"This is not a biography, it is a study compiling some of the lesser known aspects of Kalam and kindle an interest in the readers to realise his dream of developed India by 2020," says Ramanathan, who worked as financial advisor to Kalam for more than seven years in Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).

The book reveals that the President has a great sense of humour and he loves to be the target of fun. Ramanathan says, "Without causing any offence, one can have a dig at him. One can practically tell him anything, within limits as we used to remark about his trademark tresses that he can't clip them as they have become as much a part of his personality as a peacock's wings."

Everybody is aware about his secular credentials but Ramanathan apprises: "We used to avoid calling him early in the morning - his prayer time."

"He is not afraid of issues and has the requisite wherewithal and management skills to get his ideas accepted." Perhaps that's why he dared to put his thoughts across regarding amendments to People's Representation Act.

On Kalam's emphasis on indigenous technology in defence equipments, Ramanathan refutes the minority view that it is putting us back: "The success of pilot-less aircraft, inter-continental missile - Bhramos and manufacturing of SONAR for the last 15 years has proved the validity of his vision."

That the President hasn't crossed the shores yet, has also to do with his idea that it is wastage of time. Ramanathan informs that as Scientific Advisor, he went for just four trips but he made sure that foreign travel budget was raised from Rs. 50 lakh to Rs. 7 crore as he believes that it is the young scientists, who should go abroad to have exposure to the latest technology.

The book chronicles the relationship of Chacha Kalam with children, whom he calls the first scientists. In response to a query, Kalam explains: "A child keeps asking questions in the same way as a scientist puts a `why' before every incident".

"To cultivate this habit he wants to catch them young and motivate them. That's why he has pledged to meet one hundred thousand children every year, says Ramanathan."

Ramanathan has also taken pains to pen a ringside view of Kalam, where persons ranging from his colleagues, children to companions in morning walk have expressed their association with the missile man.

The President will himself release the book and its translations in Hindi, Urdu, Marathi, Tamil and Malayalam this Thursday.

Hope the work plays its part in igniting minds with the visionary's flame of putting India First.

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