BOOK REVIEW: PUPIL’s PRESIDENT A.P.J.ABDUL KALAM

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TITLE: PUPIL’s PRESIDENT A.P.J.ABDUL KALAM
EDITED BY: SATYAM ROYCHOWDHURY
PUBLISHED BY: BEE BOOKS

THE BOOK

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BLURB

The students’ diligent teacher, the nation’s gifted scientist, the humble ‘People’s President’ – an indefinable name he is Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam. A man who dedicated his life and work to the betterment of a nation, and his time and energy to the billions of young minds he wished to ignite. He has left back dreams in everyone, and the undying inspiration to make those dreams come true.

A surfeit of contents has been interwoven to give this book a shape. To read through the pages will mean a journey through his life in entirety. Besides Kalam’s own speeches and quotes, it also contains literary tributes by scientists, academicians and students, the interviews of his family members, and a real-time anecdote of his interment ceremony at Rameswaram.

This isn’t just a tribute, but a world beyond it to be read, explored and discovered.

MY TAKE ON THE BOOK

Informative , inspirational and exhaustive this book is sure to keep the reader hooked till the very end. “Pupil’s President A.P.J.Abdul Kalam is in every sense a collector’s pride. The book an edited compilation of articles, media reports, speeches, tributes from scientists and academicians across the globe, etc. touches each and every aspect of Dr. A.P.J.Abdul Kalam’s multifaceted personality and gives the reader an insight into the metamorphosis of an ordinary but brilliant, village lad into a world renowned figure. We also get to see shades of the child in Kalam, here and there. The articles by various people bring live the friend, philosopher and guide in Dr. Kalam. Each one of them is tribute to the great soul.

As one digs in deeper and deeper into the book, one is amazed at the way one single soul swayed over the hearts of his people. Each page is a revelation about the man who by his bold decisions upheld the dignity of the Rashtrapathi Bhavan.

There are several places in the book where one gets overwhelmed with emotions. The book a piece of work brought out to commemorate the life of the man who worked tirelessly for the betterment of a nation and devoted his life and energy to ignite the young minds begins with an ‘Oath for the Youth’ and ‘The Students’ Prayer’ both drafted by Dr. Kalam and administered by him on occasions when he interacted with them. The two speak volumes of the man and his thought process.

The prologue by Satyam Roychowdhury, the editor of the book is well crafted and is an enjoyable piece. ‘From Paperboy to President’ enlists the phenomenal growth of Dr. A.P.J.Abdul Kalam from an ordinary youth to one of India’s most adored sons.

‘Rameswaram to Raisana Hills and Beyond’ by Aryani Banerji is a firsthand account of the most difficult moment the Nation faced i.e. Dr. A.P.J.Abdul Kalam’s last moments on the surface of earth. The love and respect he commanded from all quarters is beautifully put across in just a few paragraphs. Aryani has also skilfully presented the journey of the man. The chapter compliments the first chapter i.e ‘From Paperboy to President’. The photographs at the end of the chapter add value to the book.

‘Amorous Eulogies’ a compilation of interviews taken by Aryant Banerji on 31 July 2015 i.e. a day after Dr. Kalam was laid to rest, is touching and inspiring. It helps us understand the moulding of the great soul.

‘The Silent Veena’ by Rajib Chakraborty brings forth the humane and unassuming side of Dr. Kalam with finesse. It also gives us an insight into the kind of rapport he had with his staff.

‘ APJ- The President’ has articles by S.M.Khan, Press Secretary to A.P.J.Abdul Kalam from 2002-2007 and Shyamal Biswas. While the article by S.M.Khan is a tribute to the visionary in Dr. Kalam, the article by Shyamal Biswas reflects the free and frank demeanour of the great soul. Both are touching and inspiring.

In ‘They Who Crafted Me’ Dr. Kalam speaks of those who moulded him, made him the Kalam the world knows, with a sense of pride and gratitude. They are Dr. Kalam’s tribute to the ones who ensured he converted his dreams into reality unmindful of the sufferings it entailed them. There are parts here and there in this section that are sure to moisten one’s eyes. There are also lessons of perseverance and patience to be had here.

‘The Last 27 Days’ is a compilation of speeches that Dr. Kalam delivered in July 2015. It also has the complete text of the last speech of Dr. Kalam. Unfortunately Dr. Kalam was able to deliver only the first few paragraphs of the same. Caring as he was, his last words were, “The topic I have selected today is: Creating a liveable planet earth. Dear friends.” The speeches in this section best bring out the visionary, philosopher and guide in Dr. Kalam. They also reflect his uneasiness at the growing conflicts and his belief in the need to work unitedly for sustained peace and harmony. In these speeches Dr. Kalam touches upon the various threats facing humanity, his vision for the future, his experiences on the technological front, the power of education, harnessing the latent skills in the individual for the betterment of the human race, etc. Himself a teacher he speaks extensively on the role of a teacher, the education and value system, etc. This section of the book is not only thought-provoking but is inspiring and motivating too.

‘Dream, Dream, Dream…’ contains excerpts from Kalam’s speeches to students. It touches in detail the challenges facing the world and ways and measures to overcome them. Here we see Dr. Kalam exhorting teachers and students to develop leadership traits with an aim to empower them and thereby the Nation. He is also seen speaking on the greatness of forgiveness , the power of performing arts in binding the six billion people of the earth and the need to plant trees. In these speeches one often gets a glimpse of the story-teller in Dr. Kalam. Each speech is a nudge to the youth to not only dream but to set in motion a plan to achieve that dream. In this section the dreamer, the visionary, the motivator in Dr. Kalam is very much evident. This one is a serious yet enjoyable and inspiring section. It brings out the multi-faceted personality of the former President of India’ beautifully.

‘I Will Fly’ is a collection of excerpts from Kalam’s writings to the youth. In these excerpts just as the title suggests, Dr. Kalam is seen igniting the young minds and making them aware of their strength. He is seen exhorting them to believe in themselves. Some wonderful stories/ incidents too are narrated here as part of this exercise. His belief in youth is very much evident in this section.

‘Be a lamp’ has excerpts from Dr. Kalam’s speeches to teachers at its core. Here Dr. Kalam is seen touching upon the role of teachers, the value of education,etc. The section draws to a close with an eleven point oath for teachers. These eleven points serve as a constant reminder to teachers about their responsibility both towards their ward and the nation. This section highlights the noble being that Dr. Kalam was.

‘Extraordinary Ordinary’ brings out the humane side of the former President beautifully. It talks of how Dr. Kalam saved HIV infected siblings, discussed literature with his personal security officer and other security personnel. It also gives us an insight into his concern for the mothers, infants, ordinary citizens, his staff and those guarding our borders. This section touches a cord within.

While ‘Tributes’ sums up the great soul perfectly ‘Media’s First Citizen’ sees leading media houses both within and outside the country, highlighting his achievements. BBC ends its report by saying that, ‘the former president was proud of his Indian education and liked to describe himself as “Made in India”, having never been trained abroad. Yes, Dr. Kalam was a proud Indian till the end, one who never forgot his roots, he was well aware of the role his motherland played in shaping him. His humility, his generosity too finds mention in this section.

‘Words of the Teacher of Teachers’ is a collection of some wonderful quotes by the man himself, while ‘Radiant Reading’ has his favourite quotes. ‘Tunes and Verses of Immortality’ is a collection of poems penned by ‘The Pupil’s President’ himself. Read them and you sure will understand the depth of his thoughts and feelings.

‘Reverence’ from the people Dr. Kalam loved to be surrounded with i.e. students and teachers and ‘Homage’ by the ‘Who’s –Who’ sum up the ‘Missile Man and The Peoples’ President’ perfectly.

Overall an inspirational,motivating and exhilarating read, this one is as I mentioned earlier , a collector’s item, one every fan of the former president would want to have in his/ her library.

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MEET THE EDITOR

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A man of assorted interests Satyam Roychowdhury co-founder and currently Managing Director of Techno India Group the largest educational conglomerate in Eastern India, is a prominent member and an active participant of the Art and Cultural milieu of Bengal. He has contributed to the society in multifaceted ways with his unstinting support and persistent patronage. He is one of the top educationalists of the country, and is a voracious reader by passion and a writer by ardor. He has an unquenchable thirst for knowledge and draws inspiration from great minds by imbibing their philosophies.

Satyam Roychowdhury’s ‘For You’ tribute series commenced with Tagore, got enriched with Swami Vivekananda and Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose. The latest addition to the series is a literary offering to Thakur Sri Ramakrishna. He owns many other titles to his credit, and his books have time and again inspired hundreds of young minds. A firm believer in hard work and sacrifice Satyam Roychowdhury believes that there is a spark in everyone to create a miracle.

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I’d like to have your views on the book and the review. Do leave them here in the comment box below.

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