Modern Indian history is incomplete without the mention of Dr. A.P.J Abdul Kalam, a scientist, teacher, statesman and above all a great human being. A lifelong teacher and a student of everything, Dr. Kalam was fondly known as the People’s President and ‘Missile man of India’. Despite of belonging to a poor family, his desire to contribute to society never faded from his vision. Dr. Kalam’s contribution to the scientific world was immense, yet he was always modest about his achievements. He was passionate for transforming society through technology especially in inspiring the youth of India to harness Science and Technology for human welfare.
Born as Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam into a necessitous and little educated Tamil family in Rameshwaram, Dr. Kalam thrived hard to learn new things. His thirst in knowledge and personal and professional struggles paved way for his achievements and recognitions. Despite being a good student and a curious learner, Dr. Kalam sold newspapers at a young age to support his family. An alumnus of the prestigious Madras Institute of Technology, Kalam began his career as a scientist at the Aeronautical Development Establishment of the Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO). He was later transferred to the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) where he served as the project director of India’s first Satellite Launch Vehicle (SLV-III). He eventually re-joined DRDO and became closely involved in India’s space programme. He served as the Chief Scientific Adviser to the Prime Minister in the 1990s before becoming the President of India in 2002. Over the course of his five-year term, he remained committed to his vision of transforming India into a developed nation and thus spent a lot of time conducting one-on-one meetings with young people to inspire them to achieve their best. He proved to be very popular with the citizens of the country and thus acquired the title of ‘People’s President.’
A never-ending quest for knowledge:
In addition to being a brilliant scientist, Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam was also a visionary. He was keen on encouraging the students of India to take active interest in the emerging technologies, including Space Tech, as these significantly impacted daily lives. He believed that to make impressive strides and leadership role in Space Technology, the youth of India must get interested, and deeply involved in Space Technology, Cube Satellites, Micro-gravity Research, etc. In his book ‘India 2020’, he recommended plans to make the nation a fully developed one by the year 2020. He put forward several suggestions, including nuclear empowerment, technological innovations, and improved agricultural productivity to achieve the same.
Kalam the Teacher- Igniting young minds:
“Learning gives creativity, Creativity leads to thinking, Thinking provides knowledge and knowledge makes you great.”
Not just as role model for the children, Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam is also remembered as one who exemplified the profession of teaching with his inherent passion and zeal to inspire children to become good citizens. Post Presidency, Dr. Kalam ventured into academic field interacting with bright young minds, the passion he loved the most. He taught information technology at the International Institute of Information Technology, Hyderabad and technology at Banaras Hindu University and Anna University. According to Dr. Kalam, teachers were the real assets of the country. His interactions with the student community and his motivational speeches made him quite popular among the youth. He believed that real education is one which makes a person think ‘what I can do’ be it children, teachers or leaders. Dr. Kalam always stressed on the fact that the aim of the teacher should be to build character, human values enhance the learning capacity of children through technology and build the confidence among children to be innovative and creative which in turn will make them competitive to face the future.
He also envisioned a strong and self-reliant India and counted upon the teachers to prepare a future generation that could think independently and find solution to problems the country faced. In 2011, he launched a mission called ‘What Can I Give Movement’ aimed at the youth of India, which focused on defeating corruption in the country. Apart from corruption, the movement focuses on environmental degradation and building a compassionate society.
Dreams and Vision:
“Dream, dream, dream! Dream transforms into thoughts. Thoughts result into action.”
Dr. Kalam always dreamt of a better India. He believed in developing India from within, making the nation sustainable. His vision for the nation was based on equality, dignity of the individual and justice, social, economic and political aspects. He always emphasized on the aspect of ‘Freedom’. According to him, one must respect the freedom of others and should protect, nurture and build on the same. Dr. Kalam wanted to see India as a developed nation emerging as a global leader in the services sector and stressed on the fact that the economic stability has a huge role in the Societal Transformation.
Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam International Foundation (AKIF): Propelling the dreams of a Bharat Ratna:
Family members and close relatives of Dr. Kalam under the banner of ‘House of Kalam’ launched the Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam International Foundation on 11th October 2015. The foundation was formed to fulfil the dreams and progress the ideas of Dr. Kalam. Dr. Naseema Marikaya, who is Kalam’s niece, is the founder chairperson of the foundation. The objectives of the foundation aims to help research and foster innovation in the areas of Water Conservation, Environment, Education, Farming, Rural Development, Healthcare and Sustainable Environment.
This foundation also collaborates with the Central Government, State Government, NGOs, corporates and donors and organizes various programmes such as promoting science among school children, making health facilities available at villages, promoting sustainable environment like planting more trees and clean water availability. Apart from this, on 27th July every year, the foundation organizes Dr. Kalam Memorial lecture by eminent people of respected fields.
The birth of Abdul Kalam International Foundation:
Dr. Kalam was always very affectionate to his family members, guiding them in their growth, visiting his ancestral home frequently and arranging for his family members to visit him at his official residence. His colleagues and collaborators were also treated with great warmth and affection. In the last part of his life, he held frequent meetings with co-workers and family members, to set up an organization that would implement his vision effectively. He assigned tasks to them and advocated several ideas that had to be put into action. However, in just the initial stages of fulfilment of Dr. Kalam’s dreams came his demise, plunging everyone into shock and grief. To take his vision forward and keep the light burning, the Dr. A. P.J Abdul Kalam International Foundation (AKIF) has been founded by his elder brother and family members, with the support of his colleagues to carry forward the activities which Dr. Kalam once dreamed off.
The mission of this foundation is to provide education, skill management, knowledge development, finding job opportunities, cultivating research brainpower, creating and disbursing sustainable energy resources, and making sure that all these reach the people in villages and all under-developed sectors of the nation.
As per the vision of Dr. Kalam, the main motive of AKIF is to bring happy smiles on the face of every single citizen of the country and ultimately across the globe through virtuous means, irrespective of the disparities in wealth, location, caste or creed.
Goals and Tasks of the Foundation:
Some of the major objectives of AKIF are:
- Setting up of libraries: Students of today form the society of tomorrow. Being a responsible yet selfless teacher is the need of the hour. Books are the best teachers, and the habit of reading good books will help develop a proper personality in every reader. A campaign is set up on regular basis to encourage every family to set up a library and allot a time slot for reading at home.
- Skill-based training: Reading develops self-confidence in individuals, which apart from helping them to face society, also helps them to acquire jobs pertaining to their course of study. By offering them skill-based training and by establishing an interconnected network of various firms, AKIF helps children of under-privileged families to identify the best sectors for them.
- Encouraging Entrepreneurship: Jobs are the need of the hour, but what is more desirable is the emergence of social entrepreneurs from multiple domains, who would be in a position to offer employment to those who seek it. Recognition and encouragement of budding businesspeople is another technique adopted by AKIF for social upgradation.
- Sustainable Environment: The Earth is liveable only if the environment is free from pollution and other hazards. The aim of AKIF is to create an awareness of environmental safety among the student community, which would go a long way in protecting the Earth’s atmosphere.
- Rural Development: Dr. Kalam always believed that agriculture formed the backbone of the nation. To bring about a revolution to support farmers, AKIF conduct meetings to connect farmers, agricultural scientists and students.
- Water Conservation: Water, the elixir of life, is depleting dangerously. This has become a major problem. The Abdul Kalam International Foundation focuses on creating awareness about the need for saving water and distributing it for the right needs. Rain water harvesting and dispensing the required amount to farmers might be a major contribution to a liveable planet, fulfilling the fundamental needs of life on Earth.
Team of Trustees – Meet the people on Board:
Mr. A.P.J.M. Muthu Meera Maraikayar: Mr. Muthu Maraikayar is the 100 year old elder brother of Dr. Kalam who lives in Rameshwaram, the birth place of Kalam. He is the Chairman of AKIF.
Mr. A.P.J.M. Jainulabudeen: He is the secretary of AKIF. An entrepreneur by profession, Mr. Jainulabudeen resides in Rameshwaram with his father Mr. Muthu Meera Maraikayar.
Dr. A.P.J.M. Nazeema Maraikayar: Managing Trustee of Abdul Kalam International Foundation. She is the niece of the former President and the most sought after person at the House of Kalam. She holds a Ph.D in Tamil literature and authored two books namely (Thirukuranil Ariviyal Korukal and Aalavirucham.
Ms. A.P.J.M.S. Nagoor Roja: She serves as the Managing Trustee of AKIF. An advocate by profession, she practices in the high court of Karnataka, Bangalore.
Mr. A.P.J.M.J. Sheik Dawood: One of the Managing Trustee of AKIF. A software engineer by profession, he currently works as a Project Manager in Vishwak Solutions Pvt. Ltd.
Mr. Gulam Moinudeen: Mr. Moinudeen is the Managing Trustee of Abdul Kalam International Foundation. He is Mechanical Engineer and holds Master’s in Manufacturing Engineering from Madras Institute of Technology. He shares a unique bond with Dr. Kalam and has worked with him when he was the 11th President of India.
Mr. A.P.J.M.J. Sheik Saleem: Managing Trustee of AKIF. He has worked under Dr. Kalam for five years in New Delhi supporting in projects such as India Vision 2020 and PURA.
Activities and Workshops:
AKIF conducts literary programmes every year commemorating the Birth and Death Anniversary of nation’s ‘Missile Man’. The not-for –benefit organization works towards achieving Dr. Kalam’s mission and focuses to initiate result-oriented actions in tune with the philosophy of Kalam. From reaching out to underprivileged children to conducting technologically innovative programmes, members of APJ international organisation always plan a slew of initiatives involving people from various walks of life. The foundation works with all-over India and abroad in promoting Science and moulding younger generation. To kindle creativity among students, AKIF conducts ‘Young Scientists India’ competition. Scientists from ISRO are invited to interact with the students and talk about various scientific developments. Apart from this, the members of the foundation also actively conduct nationwide rally to promote ‘Clean India’.
Many competitions are also held in School and events are centred around students because Dr. Kalam loved their company. Events such as relay and marathon race (Madurai to Rameshwaram), launch of newspaper, library inauguration Honouring Dr. Kalam at the government school, eye check-up and organ donation camp are also conducted as part of the campaign. Apart from this, the foundation also connects with common people and conducts events for them such as distribution of wheelchairs and drought kit to farmers; say no to plastic and distribution of jute bags; release of Dr. Kalam’s memorial anthem and honouring labourers involved in the construction of his memorial.
Billion Beats: AKIF re-launched billion beats on 2015 coinciding with children’s day. Dr. Kalam had launched the e-paper on 2007 but could not continue after a year owing to administrative reasons. After launching the foundation, the core members decided to take forward Dr. Kalam’s dreams, by re-launching ‘Billion Beats’ to give shape to his missions and turn his vision 2020 into reality.
Kalam 2020 Science Vehicle: This initiative was designed by Dr. A.P.J Abdul Kalam International Foundation. It houses a seven-foot high bronze statue of Kalam and showcases his scientific achievements during his school days and while at the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). Rare photos of Agni Missile and Pokhran-II nuclear bomb test are also displayed in this digital-based mobile museum. Starting from Rameshwaram, the vehicle travelled to several states, including Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Goa, Maharashtra, Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh, reached the Rashtrapathi Bhavan in New Delhi on October 15, 2017, the birthday of Dr. Kalam.
Celebration of Mr. A.P.J.M. Muthu Meera Maraikayar’s 100th birthday: Dr. Abdul Kalam’s wish was to have a memorable celebration for his brother on his birthday. Tracing down his footsteps, AKIF organized events commemorating the 100th birthday of Dr. Kalam,s Brother. In lieu with the celebration, Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam library was opened in the remote village schools across the districts. Selected 100 members were honoured with Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam Award and Mr. A.P.J. Maraikayar felicitated the first five members with the awards.
More over the association selected 100 students in remote villagers in the district and provided educational fund support to them.
Igniting Minds has taken an initiative to motivate the youth of India to be the game changers. It has been joined by Abdul Kalam International Foundation, House of Kalam in this noble cause. It is a month-long event and students (youth) can participate in the nationwide activities that include debates, short films, kavi sammelan, torch march, and plantation of trees.
- One of the upcoming projects of AKIF is to collaborate with the Nobel Laureates in Physics and conduct conferences at schools and colleges.
- AKIF works closely with one of the Anti-Corruption Academy in New Delhi. The aim is to spread more awareness and knowledge on corruption to various sectors.
- Connecting Industrialists with students and providing necessary trainings for them which will help them to secure a better job.
Following the dreams and visions of Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam, Abdul Kalam International Foundation has been expanding all over the nation in the past few years. From the various educational institutions to the development of urban and rural areas, this organisation aims to spread the legacy of Kalam to all no matter who or which.
Dr. Kalam’s vision for the nation was based on equality, the dignity of the individual and justice, social, economic and political, to every Indian. Only then can India succeed and everybody sing the song of India, he used to say.
Being an icon for the youth, he used to say aiming small is a crime. Youth should have the courage to think differently and explore unexplored paths. Difficulties would come but don’t be afraid of them. Overcome them by your intellect and hard work.
The man who pioneered India’s missile programme was always proud of his work at the Indian Space Research Organisation and other scientific institutions. He used to believe that a scientific approach could find a solution to every problem.
Following this dream APJ Abdul Kalam International Foundation have made its presence felt both in New Delhi and Kerala, with a brand new chapter of legacy.
From 30th June 2018 the Kerala Chapter of APJ Abdul Kalam International Foundation will be working with the next generation of young individuals in mind. APJ Abdul Kalam International Foundation Kerala aims at School and college level inculcation, developing innovation centres and studious environment for students across the state.
Promoting and cultivating the next generation has always been one of Dr. Kalam’s dreams. Stemming from this inherent wish of his, this organisation has developed a motto of a developed India which can fulfil Kalam’s vision into reality. Headed by Mr. Sunil Kumar, MD of ASSET Homes as the Chairman and Mr. Ansif Ashraf, CEO of Cochin Herald as the Secretary General, the APJ Abdul Kalam International Foundation’s Kerala Chapter only aims to make Dr. Kalam’s dreams and visions a reality.
Reliving the dreams of a Legacy:
“Great dreams of great dreamers are always transcended”
This Iron Man with ‘Wings of Fire’ who ‘Ignited Minds, believed in making education reachable, flexible and feasible for all. His message always resonate his belief that students should be provided with ‘Wings to Fly’. His speeches, books and works – all are the legacy of a man who spent his entire life trying to make the world a better place. The Abdul Kalam International Foundation caters to live up to the dreams of Dr. Kalam and undertake impact-oriented work, rather than organizing publicity-aimed and self-centric events. Dr. Kalam lived his entire life as a lesson to the young generation and instead of preaching philosophies of life, actually practiced it with all the vigour in a diligent and honest way, and wrote about the policies and procedures that could transform the nation. The only and true Homage to this Indian of Virtue and Values would be to follow the path he envisaged for his country with all the Conviction, Dedication, Empathy and Fortitude he showed throughout his journey that started from Rameshwaram, Tamil Nadu.
A fitting tribute to him is the realization of his vision and this is what the Abdul Kalam International Foundation strives to achieve each time.