The Death of An Unconventional President

My earliest memory of the death of a “famous person” goes back to 1977. We were in school and suddenly in the middle of the day’s lessons were told that we could go home. The President of India had died of a heart attack and it had been declared a holiday. Dr Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed was the incumbent President, and to date is only one of two Indian Presidents to have died in office. This was when I first got to know that when an important person in the country dies, a holiday is given, especially to school children, as a mark of respect to the person. (These days, it is also to keep the children safe from possible violence.) For students like us, the thrill of an unexpected holiday would cloud the solemnity of the grave event.

Livable planet earth

Yesterday evening, our former, most unconventional ever President, Dr APJ Adbul Kalam died suddenly. Today, my two sons are at school. No holiday. Dr Abdul Kalam had said “when I die, work an extra day”. If there is one Indian who deserves to be respected (with the conventional holiday), it is this simple “scientist, teacher, learner and writer”, this long silver-haired extraordinarily patriotic Indian, who till his last breath was working to igite young minds.

It is befitting that the government has respected his wish. Unlike anything before, the passing of this President has kept the nation working with all government offices and schools remaining open.

At 83, one has lived a long life. But considering that APJ’s father lived to 103, and his elder brother is 99, his is a life suddenly cut short. He had many dreams for a “transformed” India, surely achievable in the next 10-15 years, and he would have been happy to live to see them come true. Now it is for us to continue to dream, to have faith and to work to make India the most wanted place on “Livable planet earth”.

As APJ believed, the children are the key, and we should help them learn well.
“If a country is to be corruption free and become a nation of beautiful minds, I strongly feel there are three key societal members who can make a difference. They are the father, the mother and the teacher.” – Dr APJ Abdul Kalam , a role model to emulate

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