One of the most endearing aspects of the late Dr. A P J Abdul Kalam’s personality was his insatiable appetite for knowledge and his profound fondness for books. Often regarded as the “People’s President” and the “Missile Man of India,” Dr. Kalam’s intellectual journey was deeply influenced by the books he read throughout his life. From his humble beginnings to becoming one of India’s most respected scientists and statesmen, his passion for books played a pivotal role in shaping his extraordinary achievements.
The Love for Reading: A Humble Beginning
Born in a simple family in Rameswaram, Tamil Nadu, young Abdul Kalam was exposed to the world of books at a tender age. His father, Jainulabdeen, was an imam and a boat owner, while his mother, Ashiamma, was a homemaker. Despite facing financial challenges, the Kalam family recognized the importance of education and instilled in young Abdul a love for reading and learning.
Books that Shaped His Mind
As a child, Kalam was inspired by books that delved into science, mathematics, and the wonders of the universe. He devoured every book he could lay his hands on, from textbooks to novels and biographies. His favorites included Sir Arthur C. Clarke’s science fiction classics, the poetry of Rabindranath Tagore, and the works of Sir C. V. Raman, among many others. These books ignited his curiosity and laid the foundation for his future pursuit of scientific knowledge.
From Abdul Kalam to Dr. A P J Abdul Kalam
Kalam’s dedication to his studies earned him a degree in Aeronautical Engineering and a place at the Madras Institute of Technology (MIT). Even during his college years, he continued to seek solace and inspiration in the company of books. He voraciously read works by eminent scientists like Sir Isaac Newton, Albert Einstein, and Jules Verne, which further fueled his dreams of exploration and innovation.
The Role of Autobiographies
Autobiographies played a significant role in shaping Kalam’s mindset and reinforcing his belief in the power of determination. The life stories of great personalities like Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, and Winston Churchill left an indelible impact on his character, instilling values of resilience, perseverance, and patriotism.
The Turning Point: Meeting with the Great Teacher
It was during his early career as a scientist at the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) that Kalam had the opportunity to meet the renowned space scientist Vikram Sarabhai. Their conversation proved to be a pivotal moment in his life, as Sarabhai advised him to expand his horizons beyond technology and explore India’s space and nuclear program for the nation’s growth.
Books as a Source of Inspiration and Wisdom
Throughout his illustrious career, Dr. Kalam continued to seek refuge in the world of books, often citing them as a source of inspiration and wisdom. He encouraged young minds to cultivate the habit of reading, emphasizing that books have the power to ignite the imagination and unlock the vast reservoirs of knowledge.
Influence on the Youth
As India’s eleventh President from 2002 to 2007, Dr. Kalam left an indelible mark on the nation’s youth. His interactions with students in schools and universities were characterized by his humble nature and his belief in the transformative power of education. He urged young minds to embrace books as lifelong companions and learn from the wisdom imparted by great thinkers and leaders.
Dr. A P J Abdul Kalam’s love for books was a defining aspect of his personality. From a young boy in a small town to the President of a vast nation, his insatiable thirst for knowledge never waned. Books were not merely an escape for him; they were a means to learn, grow, and envision a better world. Dr. Kalam’s intellectual odyssey serves as an inspiration for us all, reminding us of the transformative power of books and the boundless potential they hold to shape our destinies. As we celebrate the legacy of this great visionary, let us also embrace the magic of books and embark on our own journeys of intellectual exploration.