HYDERABAD:Hyderabad will forever have fond memories of former President Dr APJ Abdul Kalam who passed away on Monday at Shillong. It was in Hyderabad, that Dr Kalam spent key years as Director of the Defence Research & Development Laboratory (DRDL) and oversaw the spin-off benefits of defence research for civilians. He strung up fruitful cooperation with two premier medical facilities in the city and gave the country cheaper medical options. Express spoke to two doctors who had the privilege of working closely with Dr Kalam.
“There will be millions of wet eyes today,” said Dr L Narendranath of the Nizam’s Institute of Medical Sciences (NIMS), choking up on words. “For me it was decades of cooperation. It began when he opened up defence laboratories for NIMS and other civilians. His idea was that research in defence sector should have spin-off benefits for civilians. Two projects came out of it, one was the cheaper Kalam-Raju cardiac stent and the other was the Light Calliper Project,” Dr Narendranath recalled.
It all began when Dr Kalam was the director of DRDL (now it is Defence Research and Development Organisation, DRDO) and his attention was drawn to the need for light callipers for polio-affected Indians, the NIMS Director said. “It began sometime in 1993, and I became its principal investigator by default after orthopaedic surgeon BN Prasad moved on. It was a long-drawn, difficult project and we had to travel all over the country for research. It was not complete when he left the DRDO, but came to fruition much later when he was the defence advisor to the Prime Minister. But whatever he was doing, wherever he was, he would keep a tab on the progress and wanted to know the status. He was beside himself with joy when it was ready. Nearly 30,000 people have benefited from the project,” Dr Narendranath explained.
In 1998, Dr Kalam and Dr Soma Raju developed a low-cost coronary stent named the ‘Kalam-Raju’ stent. Later in 2012, the duo designed a rugged tablet computer for healthcare in rural areas, which was named the ‘Kalam-Raju tablet’.
“I had a very close association with him for over a decade. He has inspired millions of individuals and during my stint with him, he was not only a great working colleague but also a great friend.His death is a huge loss to the nation,” an emotional Dr Soma Raju said.