Wednesday, July 29, 2015
What I will be remembered for.. my memory of the last day with the great Kalam sir... (Written by his close aide Srijan Pal Singh, who accompanied him in the travel and was there at the stage).
It has been eight hours since we last talked – sleep eludes me and memories keep flushing down, sometimes as tears. Our day, 27th July, began at , when we took our seats in the flight to Guhawati. Dr. Kalam was 1A and I was IC. He was wearing a dark colored “Kalam suit”, and I started off complimenting, “Nice color!” Little did I know this was going to be the last color I will see on him.
oLong, 2.5 hours of flying in the monsoon weather. I hate turbulence, and he had mastered over them. Whenever he would see me go cold in shaking plane, he would just pull down the window pane and saw, “Now you don’t see any fear!”. That was followed by another 2.5 hours of car drive to IIM Shillong. For these two legged trip of five hours we talked, discussed and debated. These were amongst hundreds of the long flights and longer drives we have been together over the last six years.
As each of them, this was as special too. Three incidents/discussions in particular will be “lasting memories of our last trip”.
First, Dr. Kalam was absolutely worried about the attacks in Punjab. The loss of innocent lives left him filled with sorrow. The topic of lecture at IIM Shillong was Creating a Livable Planet Earth. He related the incident to the topic and said, “it seems the man made forces are as big a threat to the livability of earth as pollution”. We discussed on how, if this trend of violence, pollution and reckless human action continues we will forced to leave earth. “Thirty years, at this rate, maybe”, he said. “You guys must do something about it… it is going to be your future world”
Our second discussion was more national. For the past two days, Dr. Kalam was worried that time and again Parliament, the supreme institution of democracy, was dysfunctional. He said, “I have seen two different governments in my tenure. I have seen more after that. This disruption just keeps happening. It is not right. I really need to find out a way to ensure that the parliament works on developmental politics.”
He then asked me to prepare a surprise assignment question for the students at IIM Shillong, which he would give them only at the end of the lecture. He wanted to them to suggest three innovative ways to make the Parliament more productive and vibrant. Then, after a while he returned on it. “But how can ask them to give solutions if I don’t have any myself”. For the next one hour, we thwarted options after options, who come up with his recommendation over the issue. We wanted to include this discussion in our upcoming book, Advantage India.
Third, was an experience from the beauty of his humility. We were in a convoy of 6-7 cars. Dr. Kalam and I were in the second car. Ahead us was an open gypsy with three soldiers in it. Two of them were sitting on either side and one lean guy was standing atop, holding his gun. One hour into the road journey, Dr. Kalam said, “Why is he standing? He will get tired. This is like punishment. Can you ask a wireless message to given that he may sit?” I had to convince him, he has been probably instructed to keep standing for better security. He did not relent. We tried radio messaging, that did not work. For the next 1.5 hours of the journey, he reminded me thrice to see if I can hand signal him to sit down. Finally, realizing there is little we can do – he told me, “I want to meet him and thank him”.
Later, when we landed in IIM Shillong, I went inquiring through security people and got hold of the standing guy. I took him inside and Dr. Kalam greeted him. He shook his hand, said thank you buddy. “Are you tired? Would you like something to eat? I am sorry you had to stand so long because of me”. The young lean guard, draped in black cloth, was surprised at the treatment. He lost words, just said, “Sir, aap ke liye to 6 ghante bhi khade rahenge”.
After this, we went to the lecture hall. He did not want to be late for the lecture. “Students should never be made to wait”, he always said. I quickly set up his mike, briefed on final lecture and took position on the computers. As I pinned his mike, he smiled and said, “Funny guy! Are you doing well?” ‘Funny guy’, when said by Kalam could mean a variety of things, depending on the tone and your own assessment. It could mean, you have done well, you have messed up something, you should listen to him or just that you have been plain naïve or he was just being jovial. Over six years I had learnt to interpret Funny Guy like the back of my palm. This time it was the last case.
“Funny guy! Are you doing well?” he said. I smiled back, “Yes”. Those were the last words he said. Two minutes into the speech, sitting behind him, I heard a long pause after completing one sentence. I looked at him, he fell down. We picked him up. As the doctor rushed, we tried whatever we could. I will never forget the look in his three-quarter closed eyes and I held his head with one hand and tried reviving with whatever I could. His hands clenched, curled onto my finger. There was stillness on his face and those wise eyes were motionlessly radiating wisdom. He never said a word. He did not show pain, only purpose was visible.
In five minutes we were in the nearest hospital. In another few minutes the they indicated the missile man had flown away, forever. I touched his feet, one last time. Adieu old friend! Grand mentor! See you in my thoughts and meet in the next birth.
As turned back, a closet of thoughts opened. Often he would ask me, “You are young, decide what will like to be remembered for?” I kept thinking of new impressive answers, till one day I gave up and resorted to tit-for-tat. I asked him back, “First you tell me, what will you like to be remembered for? President, Scientist, Writer, Missile man, India 2020, Target 3 billion…. What?” I thought I had made the question easier by giving options, but he sprang on me a surprise. “Teacher”, he said.
Then something he said two weeks back when we were discussing about his missile time friends. He said, “Children need to take care of their parents. It is sad that sometimes this is not happening”. He paused and said, “Two things. Elders must also do. Never leave wealth at your deathbed – that leaves a fighting family. Second, one is blessed is one can die working, standing tall without any long drawn ailing. Goodbyes should be short, really short”.
Today, I look back – he took the final journey, teaching, what he always wanted to be remembered doing. And, till his final moment he was standing, working and lecturing. He left us, as a great teacher, standing tall. He leaves the world with nothing accumulated in his account but loads of wishes and love of people. He was a successful, even in his end.
Will miss all the lunches and dinners we had together, will miss all the times you surprised me with your humility and startled me with your curiosity, will miss the lessons of life you taught in action and words, will miss our struggles to race to make into flights, our trips, our long debates. You gave me dreams, you showed me dreams need to be impossible, for anything else is a compromise to my own ability. The man is gone, the mission lives on. Long live Kalam.
Your indebted student,
Srijan Pal Singh
(SOURCE- VIA E-MAIL BY COL PRAKASH RAO (RETD))
It is sad to see the ostrich-like attitude adopted by the present government towards the on-going peaceful protests across the country by the veterans relating to the implementation of One Rank One Pension (OROP). There are no two schools of thought regarding the legitimacy of the demand. The present government, as indeed its predecessors, has accepted that the demand is just and the veterans need to be compensated. Why then are unnecessary impediments being created? Are there some segments or powerful entities that are bent on scuttling this righteous demand and if so, do they understand the implications?
Lt Gen Vijay Oberoi
Kindly see this SOS from a retired officer.
Subject: Request from the Supreme Commander
Lt Col Ravi Shankar Tripathi (Retd)
The Supreme Commander of All Three Forces of India,
The President of India
Rashtrapati Bhawan, New Delhi
DUE UNBEARABLE ORDEAL OF FASTING ESM, I REQUEST PERMISSION TO END MY LIFE
I am a retired army Officer with a spotless service of 25 years. I have been watching the promises and more promises of our endless leaders since 1982 and even the present Prime Ministers since Nov 2013 regarding payment of One Rank One Pension. The parliament has passed it and even the Hon'able Supreme Court has upheld it. But still no govt has translated their promises into action.
You being our Supreme commander, I am writing this to you. I have given up any hope from any govt of this country and feel ashamed when I see my brothers of the age of 80-85 years old sitting on fast at Jantar Mantar for the last 36 days. You will appreciate that this agitation has been totally peaceful despite all the provocations. May be that is precisely the reason that nothing is moving at the govt's end. But at the same time I can never allow my brother ESM to take recourse to violence, as all soldiers love their country more than any one. I will never allow my brothers in active service to break the sacred thread of democratic traditions. Some head of the country said “You guard the national boundary and I will guard your welfare”, but in INDIA it is a different story.
I find myself a failure towards my brothers in and out of the Armed Forces. I am losing the desire to live. As I can not even fight with the powers that be at the helms of affairs as any violent fight with them may cause irreparable loss to my country. I also can not tolerate my countrymen saying that, if a Prime Minister cannot keep the promise given to soldiers of his country what promise he can keep to the Nation.
I am sure you will agree that if a soldier cannot live with dignity at least he should be allowed to die with dignity
In view of the above, I kindly request for your permission to end my life as it has become unbearable for me to live any more.
Anyway, the date, place and time will be informed once a positive reply is received from The Supreme Commander.
Lt Col RS Tripathi
Date: Thu, 23 Jul 2015 03:19:34 +0000
(Source : India of my Dreams)
(SOURCE- VIA E-MAIL)
Tuesday, July 28, 2015
ANOTHER LIVING LEGEND MSHL OF IAF ARJAN SINGH PAYING LAST RESPECTS TO BHARATA RATNA DR APJ ABDUL KALAM
The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi has condoled the passing away of former President of India, Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam. “India mourns the loss of a great scientist, a wonderful President and above all an inspiring individual. Rest in peace Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam.
Dr. Kalam…my mind is filled with so many memories, so many interactions with him. Always marvelled at his intellect, learnt so much from him.
Dr. Kalam enjoyed being with people; people and youngsters adored him. He loved students and spent his final moments among them”, the Prime Minister said.
(Source - PIB News as published in CG News DOPT Orders blog)
Thursday, 23 July 2015 | Deepak Sinha | in Oped
If the Govt aims to divide the veteran community, it must remember that they have a lot to learn from their masters about communal carnages and insurgencies.
It has been more than a month since the military veteran community commenced its symbolic relay hunger strike at the Jantar Mantar in New Delhi and at other towns across the country to protest against the delay in implementation of the one-rank-one-pension scheme that had earlier been accepted by the Government. That PM Narendra Modi and his advisors are unmoved by this unprecedented act on the part of those who have willingly made sacrifices for the security and integrity of this nation, tells us more about Mr Modi's wisdom, character and statesmanship, or lack thereof, despite all pretensions and posturing to the contrary. It is worth remembering that among those fighting for this cause are veterans of all wars that this country faced since independence.
Symbolism counts, especially in a poor and developing country like ours. Mr Modi knew about this, and was able to use it to a great extent on his way to the PMship. Unfortunately, he and his advisors failed to understand one simple truth, that symbolism without substance is hollow and a sham. It is seen through very quickly. That it has been an a grievous error of judgment on part of such an astute politician, is indeed surprising, given the fact that this is one war,he can never win.
In fact, the bureaucracy has been fighting a rearguard battle ever since the 2009 judgement by the Supreme Court in the Major General SPS Veins (retired) and others case. It had then ruled that “no defence personnel, senior in rank could get a lower pension than his junior, irrespective of the date of retirement, and that similarly placed officers of the same rank should be given the same pension irrespective of the date of retirement”, in effect of the OROP.
That the BJP has nobody but itself to blame, is obvious as it paints itself as the villain of the piece hemorrhaging goodwill. That this occurred despite its Govt having agreed to implement the directions of the court as late as Feb 17 this year, during the hearing on a contempt petition filed by Maj Gen SPS Veins is in itself a mystery as well.
In another twist to the ongoing saga, media reports have suggested that Addl Solicitor Gen, Ms Pinky Anand, recently informed the court that the “Centre would grant OROP to the petitioners in three to four days”. While one would like to believe that the Govt has learnt its lessons and is now looking to cut its losses and clear up the whole mess, apprehensions continue to be expressed that the Govt, in another move to delay the inevitable, may clear OROP scheme for Maj Gens only, the petitioners in the case at point, and thereby attempt to divide the veteran community.
If this were to be the case, then it may be worth remembering that, while we have certainly picked up the fine art of dividing from our former masters, we still have a lot to learn from them about ruling, communal carnages and insurgencies. One can state with absolute certainty that Mr Modi's actions would then be worse than those of Jawaharlal Nehru and Krishna Menon, his Defence Minister, which resulted in the 1962 debacle. Not only can it lead to disharmony and finger pointing within the veteran community and provide support to those within the community, who believe that only strong action gets the Govt to acquiesce, but worse, adversely impact serving personnel by creating friction within it. By turning the ethos of ‘service before self’, that has been the cornerstone of this Army's professional excellence through the years, on its head; the Govt would make the position of the senior hierarchy morally untenable.
While veteran General officers affected by such a decision, will in all probability, could refuse to accept such a decision and can even approach the Supreme Court to modify its direction to include all affected personnel, thereby avoiding a spate of litigation that is bound to occur. However, serving officers will not have such a choice and will be confronted by a moral dilemma not of their making.
The adverse impact of the divide between those eligible for OROP and those who would miss out is not difficult to foresee. In fact, it certainly is one of the major factors that impacts the functioning and performance of our central Armed Forces, where officers from the IAS/IPS rule the roost, while the rest are left to their own devices. The fact that they superannuate at 59 or 60 years of age, is a saving grace. Surely, even our politicians understand the implications of reducing our military to such a sorry state.
(The writer is a military veteran and consultant with the Obse)
(Source- Vasundhra blog)
NEW DELHI: President Pranab Mukherjee today condoled the death ofA P J Abdul Kalam and said the nation has lost a great son who was people's President during his lifetime and shall remain so even after his death. In his message to the nation on the demise of Dr Kalam, the President said, "I pay respectful homage to my late departed friend Kalam."
File photo: Former President APJ Abdul Kalam.Terming the death as his personal loss, the President said Dr Kalam was immensely popular and greatly admired. "His warmth, humility and simple ways endeared him to one and all. He had a special love for children and sought to constantly inspire the youth of our country through motivational speeches and personal interaction," President Mukherjee said.
He said Dr Kalam will be long remembered for his passion for science and innovations and his contributions as an eminent scientist, administrator, educationists and writer.
His achievements as the leader of India's defence research vastly enhanced the safety and security of of the nation."For his tireless services to the nation, he was honoured with numerous prestigious awards," the President said.
"In his passing away, we have lost a great son of India who dedicated his entire life for the welfare of the motherland and its people." "Dr Kalam was a people's President during his lifetime and will remain so even after his death," he said.
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28 Jul 15, 06:30 AMRRKW: We have lost a great person in Dr APJA Kalam our former President, the one who encouraged the children to dream. May his soul rip.
28 Jul 15, 12:12 AMDNPatnaik: Sorry friends, we have lost a second Mahtma Gandhi of India
28 Jul 15, 12:03 AMDNPatnaik: We will never mis u sir
28 Jul 15, 12:03 AMSDJ: Sudden demise of Dr KALAM We lost a great scientist &symbol of simplicity
28 Jul 15, 12:02 AMDNPatnaik: My respect, love & tear to the great soul
27 Jul 15, 11:59 PMDNPatnaik: To day Mother India is weeping for her great son
27 Jul 15, 11:57 PMDNPatnaik: A best human being we lost
27 Jul 15, 11:56 PMDNPatnaik: He was the best
27 Jul 15, 11:53 PMDNPatnaik: I m deeply shocked to learn the sad demise of our very beloved former President Dr APJ Kalam sir. My heartiest tribute the greatest soul of India. May his soul rest in peace
27 Jul 15, 11:13 PMexsgtsreeram: Country lost one of her beloved soul,may God bless his soul rest in peace.I deeply shocked after hearing news
27 Jul 15, 11:08 PMpassively: A great loss to the nation. His life, his lifestyle, his wise words, his incredible vision and mindset will remain a bright torch to all Indians, today and forever
27 Jul 15, 10:48 PMEXJWORVIVEK: he was ar role model for many Indians, including me. we lost him. RIP. A great salam to kalam sir.
(SOURCE- VOICE OF VETERANS BLOG)
27 Jul 15, 10:36 PMMBC: The entire family of VOP & AFVAI Deeply mourn the sudden demise of Dr.APJ ABDUL KALAM,We lost a great scientist & symbol simplicity
27 Jul 15, 10:22 PMPrabhat: I also had a little talk with the great soul in kochi. May his soul rest in peace
27 Jul 15, 10:13 PMsasi: We lost a gr8 human being and an ideal citizen of INDIA... RIP..
27 Jul 15, 10:13 PMMLA: Sgt Prabhakaran and SKS both of ur lucky
27 Jul 15, 10:11 PMTVR: The great man passed away because he could not able to adjust with present politisions, he donot wants to see the ex armed men on road. His sole may rest in peace.
27 Jul 15, 10:10 PMmohanaranganafvai: We condole the sudden demise of a great soul
27 Jul 15, 10:09 PMmohanaranganafvai: Biswas and Prabhakaran sir please check your mail box
27 Jul 15, 10:05 PMSKS: I too was blessed to see him closely when I was posted in chief of staff committee at south block during 94-96
27 Jul 15, 10:00 PMSKS: A great loss to nation and to me too as an Indian. Love you immensly Sir !!.
27 Jul 15, 09:51 PMSgtMPKaran: one of our GH staff. But he was full of smiles and grace. He said not to worry about it and made be comfortable before I began to brief him. I never seem such a great but simple person in my life
27 Jul 15, 09:45 PMSgtMPKaran: and said "yes. I am Islam and you.,..?" . The moment. heard that my heart skipped a beat. I profusely apologized to him fir mistaking for
27 Jul 15, 09:41 PMSgtMPKaran: reception counter and reading a news paper. I just touched him on his soldier and asked him whether Dr. Islam arrived and is he available in his room? The person turned to me and said with a smile
27 Jul 15, 09:38 PMSgtMPKaran: I never met him in person earlier. I went to our reception counter at GH to enquire about hid availability in the room. A short person with a checked lunging and banian was standing near the
27 Jul 15, 09:35 PMSgtMPKaran: He was to arrive by 9pm flight and stay in our guest house. I went to the GH at about 9.30 to brief him on next day's meeting and hand over the papers.
27 Jul 15, 09:33 PMSgtMPKaran: My first meeting with him was unusual and fresh in my memory. We have invited him as the chairman of a recruitment board to our institute at Bangalore. I was the Oi/c of recruitment.
27 Jul 15, 09:29 PMSgtMPKaran: I had worked with Dr. Abdul Islam closely for nearly an year. A human being -par excellence, simple, honest and dedicated person. May his soul rest in peace!
27 Jul 15, 09:18 PMlaxman: Dr Abdul Kalam : Great human being
27 Jul 15, 09:16 PMsunilbhatia: Is it true? A great man. May he rest in peace.
27 Jul 15, 09:13 PMMLA: in Meghalaya.
27 Jul 15, 09:12 PMMLA: RIP former Prez Abdual Kalam