BENGALURU: The scientific community in the city paid glowing tributes to former president APJ ABdul Kalam when they spoke to Express. Close friend and colleague at DRDO and a former associate director of Indian Institute of Science (IISc) Prof N Balakrishnan said that it is a big loss. “In Dr Kalam’s death I have lost a mother, a father and a great mentor,” he said.
Balakrishnan emphasised on Kalam’s love for him as a friend. “His affection towards me and my family is only paralleled by that of my parents,” he said.
Kalam was enamoured by research and showed a great interest in it. “He had a very intimate knowledge of all my students and their research. His passion was always to encourage students to work on nationally relevant technologies and be Indian in everything that they do. The ease with which my students discussed their work with him showed his versatility and extremely great spectrum of knowledge,” said Balakrishnan.
He spoke about Kalam’s love of books, “He was a voracious reader and read all the books that he could lay his hands on. Even now, it has not yet sunk in to me that he is no more.”
Prof CNR Rao said he is saddened by the news. He told Express, “He was a wonderful human being. A simple man dedicated to the cause of India. He worked on missiles and loved India. We require such people. His passing away yesterday is a great tragedy. He will be missed.”
‘Missionary of New India’
Prof Roddam Narasimha, another colleague, said “Much has been said about him. He was an extraordinary technologist with visions and dreams about India. He was the missionary for a new India. He inspired thousands of children in his organisations and other organisations. Was apolitical but had aspirations.”
Narasimha reminisced, “I remember he would say, ‘As far as technology is concerned we are great buyers. While in Bengaluru he encouraged making technologies in India. I was in aeronautics and he was then making hovercrafts that can run on all kinds of terrain. He was also developing technology for carbon fibres that are stronger than steel or aluminium. He was so successful that he became the leader of satellite launch vehicles.”
“He presented to people their own version of what an Indian could be”, said Narasimha. “He knew only Tamil and used to be called Kalam Aiyar, in the olden days. He was a true Indian”.
IISc Director Anurag Kumar told Express, “Kalam was an outstanding citizen of the country, characterised by his simplicity, his dreams for India and his contributions to India.”
Prof K VijayRaghavan, Secretary to the Department of Biotechnology said, “His ability to captivate the imagination of everyone particularly the youth was amazing. He was charming and self effacing and had no airs. So, he could reach out to people and that is the spirit to be able to work with them.”