With numerous research centres and educational institutes, Bengaluru was never far in the calendar of the former President late > A.P.J. Abdul Kalam .
Whether it was the Aeronautical Development Establishment (ADE) or the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), the city was the home for > Dr. Kalam when he started his career in the 1960s.
Eventually, he did leave a mark in a small part of the city. In an unassuming apartment complex for Central government employees besides the Airport Road in Yelahanka, the Bharat Ratna winner owned one of the 603 flats.
Roja, Dr. Kalam’s grandniece who lives in the complex, left for Rameswaram, Tamil Nadu, soon after learning about his demise on Monday night.
“It [Dr. Kalam’s death] is yet to register in my mind. The whole family is in shock. He was an active man, and since he stayed constantly in touch with me, I’m sure he had no ill health until the heart attack,” she told The Hindu over the phone.
Even after he became the President, his association with the city did not confine to just ribbon cuttings and inauguration speeches. In November 2005, Dr. Kalam addressed the joint sitting of the State legislature and urged the members to protect the greenery of Bengaluru and focus on metro railway (which was then only a proposal) to decongest the city.
On June 13 this year, he spoke at several events here, including at the inauguration of the National Oncology Conference, and Texas Instruments Innovation Challenge India Design Contest 2015.
Meeting with budding trekkers
Shankar Bennur writes from Mysuru:
It was an unbelievable experience for over a dozen speech, hearing and visually impaired students and children from tribal communities in from Karnataka when Dr. Kalam spent over one-and-a-half hours interacting with them at the Rashtrapati Bhavan in 2006.
These students went to meet the ‘missile man of India’ before going on their maiden expedition to the Himalayas, which was called ‘Hope’.
It was one of the ambitious expeditions of the International Academy of Mountaineering and Allied Sports (IAMAS), Mysuru, and the organisers were keen to meet the eminent visionary since he was a great source of inspiration, especially to the youth. “Being the President of India, he spent his time inspiring the budding trekkers. Indeed, it was an unforgettable experience,” adventure enthusiast D.S.D. Solanki, founder-member of the IAMAS, who was part of the expedition, said on Tuesday.
On the occasion, Dr. Kalam spoke on ‘dreams, courage and vision’ and quoted a few lines from the English translation of an Assamese poem to encourage the special needs students, he recalled.
Dr. Kalam signed his autograph on the caps of the entire team — students and IAMAS volunteers, who wore them until they reached Yankar Pass, the summit.
Citing an instance of how Dr. Kalam read the young trekkers’ minds, Mr. Solanki said the participants were longing to take a group photo with the President but their cameras were not allowed inside the bhavan. “Sensing our feelings, Dr. Kalam asked his office photographer to take photographs. His office later shared the photographs on our request,” he recalled.
A packed schedule in Kolar in 2011
Vishwa Kundapura writes from Kolar:
Dr. Kalam had visited Kolar, Chickballapur and Malur to participate in programmes organised by educational institutions.
He inaugurated BGS Polytechnic at SJC Institute of Technology in Chickballapur on August 29, 2010. On December 28, 2011, the former President had a hectic schedule — he delivered the keynote address at the silver jubilee celebration of Sri Devaraj Urs Medical College at Tamaka, on the outskirts of Kolar town, inaugurated JSS Educational Institutions at Malur and participated in an interaction with students at C. Byregowda Institute of Technology at Toradevandahalli, near Kolar.
At all the programmes, he adhered to his favourite way of communication — interaction, during which he posed faith in the capacity of human beings. At the Malur programme, Dr. Kalam exhorted students to “set a goal and study hard”.
Lehanya, a class six student of Baldwin School in Kolar who interacted with Dr. Kalam a month and a half ago in Bengaluru, was upset on Tuesday. She was one of the students selected by Baldwin Group of Institutions to interact with the former President at an event in Bengaluru on June 12.