Bharat has lost a Ratna: PM Modi writes on APJ Abdul Kalam's death

Published By : Admin | July 28, 2015 | 20:12 IST

BHARAT has lost a Ratna, but the light from this jewel will guide us towards APJ Abdul Kalam's dream-destination: India as a knowledge superpower, in the first rank of nations. Our scientist-President - and one who was genuinely loved and admired across the masses - never measured success by material possessions. For him, the counterpoint to poverty was the wealth of knowledge, in both its scientific and spiritual manifestations. As a hero of our defence programme, he shifted horizons; and as a seer of the spirit, he sought to liberate doctrine from the narrow confines of partisan tension to the transcendental space of harmony.

Every great life is a prism, and we bathe in those rays that find their way to us. His profound idealism was secure because it rested on a foundation of realism. Every child of deprivation is a realist. Poverty does not encourage illusions.  Poverty is a terrible inheritance; a child can be defeated even before he or she has begun to dream. But Kalamji refused to be defeated by circumstances. As a boy, he had to support his studies by earning money as a newspaper vendor; today, page after page of the same newspapers are filled with his obituary notices. He said that he would not be presumptuous enough to say that his life could be a role model for anybody; but if some poor child living in an obscure and underprivileged social setting found some solace in the way his destiny had been shaped, it could perhaps help such children liberate themselves from the bondage of illusory backwardness and helplessness. He is my marg darshak, as well as that of every such child.

His character, commitment and inspirational vision shine through his life. He was unencumbered by ego; flattery left him cold. He was equally at ease before an audience of suave, globe-trotting ministers and a class of young students. The first thing that struck one about him was that, uniquely, he combined the honesty of a child with the energy of a teenager and the maturity of an adult. He took little from the world, and gave all he could to society. A man of deep faith, he epitomised the three great virtues of our civilization: dama, self-restraint; dana, sacrifice; and daya, compassion.

But this persona was powered by the fire of endeavour. His vision for the nation was anchored in freedom, development and strength. Given our history, freedom had a political context of course; but it also included freedom of the mind and expansion of intellectual space. He wanted India to leap out of the under-developed trough, and eliminate the curse of poverty through inclusive economic growth. Wisely, he suggested that politicians spend only 30% of their time on politics, and 70% on development; a suggestion which he often followed up by calling in MPs from a state and discussing the socio-economic issues of their region with them. The third pillar, strength, was not born of aggression, but of understanding. An insecure nation will rarely discover the route to prosperity.  Strength commands respect. His contributions in our nuclear and space achievements have given India the muscle to be confident of her place in the region and the world.

His memory is best honoured by the creation of new institutions that nurture science and technology, and enable us to find a beneficial equation with the awesome power of nature. Too often, greed makes us predators of our environment. Kalamji saw poetry in a tree, and energy that could be harnessed in water, wind and sun. We should learn to look at our world through his eyes, and with the same missionary zeal.

Human beings can shape their lives through will, persistence, ability and sheer courage. But we have not been given the right to script where we are born, or how and when we die. However, if Kalamji had been offered an option, this is how he would perhaps have chosen to say goodbye: on his feet, and in front of a classroom of his beloved students. As a bachelor, he was childless. But that is wrong. He was a father to every Indian child, teaching, cajoling, urging, exciting, clearing darkness wherever he found it with the radiance of his vision and the passion of his involvement. He saw the future, and showed the way. As I entered the room where his body lay in state, I noticed the painting at the entrance that depicted a few lines from an inspirational book he wrote for children, Ignited Minds. The good that he did will not be interred with his bones, because his children will preserve his memory through their lives and work, and gift it to their children.

 

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ভেঙ্কৈয়া গরু- ভারতকী সেবাদা হিংখিবা পুন্সি
July 01, 2024

Today, India’s former Vice President and respected statesman Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu Garu turns 75. I wish him a long and healthy life and also extend my greetings to all his well-wishers and supporters. This is an occasion to celebrate a leader whose life journey showcases dedication, adaptability and an unwavering commitment to public service. From his early days in the political arena to his tenure as Vice President, Venkaiah Garu’s career exemplifies his unique ability to navigate the complexities of Indian politics with ease and humility. His eloquence, wit and steadfast focus on developmental issues have earned him respect across party lines.

Venkaiah Garu and I have been associated with each other for decades. We have worked together and I have also learnt a lot from him. If there is one thing that has remained common in his life, it is the love for people. His brush with activism and politics began in Andhra Pradesh with student politics as a student leader. Considering his talent, oratory and organisational skills, he would have been welcomed in any political party but he preferred to work with the Sangh Parivar because he was inspired by the vision of Nation First. He was associated with the RSS, ABVP and then strengthened the Jana Sangh and the BJP.

When the Emergency was imposed almost 50 years ago, young Venkaiah Garu immersed himself in the anti-Emergency movement. He was imprisoned and that too for inviting Loknayak JP to Andhra Pradesh. This commitment to democracy would be seen time and again in his political career. In the mid-1980s, when the great NTR’s Government was unceremoniously dismissed by the Congress, he was again at the forefront of the movement to protect democratic principles.

Venkaiah Garu has always been comfortable swimming even against the most formidable tides. In 1978, Andhra Pradesh voted for the Congress but he beat the trend and was elected as a young MLA. Five years later, when the NTR Tsunami swept the state, he got elected as a BJP MLA, thus paving the way for the BJP’s growth across the state.

All those who have heard Venkaiah Garu speak will vouch for his oratory skills. He is certainly a wordsmith but he is as much a worksmith. Since his days as a young MLA, he began to be respected for the rigour he put in to legislative affairs and speaking for people of his constituency. No less than a stalwart like NTR noted his talent and even wanted him to join his Party but Venkaiah Garu refused to deviate from his core ideology. He went on to play a big role in strengthening the BJP in Andhra Pradesh, going across the villages and connecting with people from all walks of life. He led the Party on the floor of the Assembly and even became the AP BJP President.

It was in the 1990s that the BJP central leadership took note of Venkaiah Garu’s efforts and thus in 1993 began his stint in national politics when he was appointed the Party’s All India General Secretary. It was truly a remarkable moment for a man, who as a teenager would go around announcing the visits of Atal Ji and Advani Ji, to be working directly with them. As the General Secretary, he was focused on how to bring our Party to power and ensure that the nation get their first ever BJP Prime Minister. After the move to Delhi, there was no looking back and he rose to become the National President of the Party.

In 2000, when Atal Ji was keen to induct Venkaiah Garu in the government as a Minister, Venkaiah Garu instantly conveyed his preference for the Rural Development Ministry. This left everyone including Atal Ji puzzled. After all, here was a leader who was being asked which portfolio he wants and his first choice was Rural Development. But, Venkaiah Garu was clear- he was a Kisan Putra, he had spent his early days in the villages and thus, if there was one area he wished to work, it was rural development. As Minister, he was closely associated with the conception and rolling out of the ‘Pradhan Mantri Gramin Sadak Yojana.’ Years later, when the NDA Government of 2014 assumed office, he handled the crucial portfolios of Urban Development, Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation. It was during his tenure that we launched the important Swachh Bharat Mission and important urban development related schemes. Perhaps, he is one of the only leaders to have worked for both rural and urban development for such an extensive period.

When I came to Delhi in 2014, I was an outsider to the national capital, having worked in Gujarat for the previous decade and a half. In such times, Venkaiah Garu’s insights were very handy. He was an effective Parliamentary Affairs Minister - he knew the essence of bipartisanship but at the same time he drew a line when it came to Parliamentary norms and rules.

In 2017, our Alliance nominated him as our Vice-Presidential candidate. We faced a dilemma – we thought about how the big shoes of Venkaiah Garu would be impossible to fill, but at the same time, we also knew there was no better candidate for the Vice Presidency than him. I can never forget one of the speeches he gave when he resigned as Minister and MP. He could not control his tears when he recalled his association with the Party and efforts to build it. It gave a glimpse of his deep-rooted commitment and passion. Upon becoming the Vice President, he undertook various steps that also enhanced the dignity of the office. He was an outstanding Chairperson of the Rajya Sabha, ensuring that young MPs, women MPs and first time MPs get the opportunity to speak. He put great emphasis on attendance, making the Committees more effective and also raising the level of debate in the House.

When the decision to remove Articles 370 and 35(A) were placed on the floor of the Rajya Sabha, it was Venkaiah Garu who was on the Chair. I am sure it was such an emotional moment for him- the young boy who was drawn to Dr. Syama Prasad Mookerjee’s dream of a united India was on the Chair when this was finally achieved.

Apart from work and politics, Venkaiah Garu is a voracious reader and writer too. For the people in Delhi, he is known as the person who brought the glorious Telugu culture to the city. His Ugadi and Sankranti programmes are clearly among the most cherished gatherings in town. I have always known Venkaiah Garu as someone who loves food and also hosting people. But, off late, his self-control has also been visible to everyone. His commitment to fitness is seen in how he still plays badminton and enjoys his brisk walk.

Even after the Vice Presidency, Venkaiah Garu has led an active public life. On the issues that he is passionate about or on various developments that take place across the nation, he calls me and asks me about it. I met him most recently when our government returned to office for the third term. He was delighted and conveyed his best wishes to me and our team. I wish him once again on this milestone. I hope young Karyakartas, elected representatives and all those who have a passion to serve learn from his life and imbibe those values. It is people like him who make our nation better and more vibrant.