The first time I had the privilege to meet the former President of India Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam was in May 2010 at his official residence in New Delhi. At that time I never thought I will get the opportunity to invite him to our office function or share the dais with him, both of which happened yesterday. So much for the saying, you can’t get lucky twice!
The venue was Le Royal Méridien, Chennai, the time was 3:30 PM, and the date was 8th December 2014 (yesterday). Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam graced us with his presence by being the Chief Guest for the 14th Year celebration at our group event of AnjanaSoft & Vishwak Solutions. I have been coordinating with his office for the last few months to organize the same, and it was a delight to work with them. Right from the minute we welcomed him, to the time he left the venue, it all feels like a dream. You are touched by how “simple” the man was. For his age (83) I was surprised to see how briskly he walks, I found it hard to keep pace with him when I accompanied him from the lobby to the stage and back.
I had a tough time during our internal planning before the event on what to present to Dr Kalam as a memento?, he has travelled around the world, he had been the President of India, had visited privileged places and would have received the rarest of rare gifts. But we wanted to give him something as a token of our affection, I settled on the idea of “books”, but then a doubt came, he already has a well-stocked library in his house. I checked with his office, and they insisted on NO gifts to Dr Kalam, finally relented to receiving books but insisted that it has to be presented in the open (no gift wrapping or boxed) and on stage, I was happy that we got them convinced and were able to present it to Dr Kalam.
In his captivating speech, Dr Kalam spoke on what he visualizes – a 100% mobile telephony-based office (during the 2020 pandemic we know this to be the Work from Home model), the youth of India should stand for being a culture of excellence, how creative leadership can lead to a nation’s development and lastly how to manage success & failure by quoting an example from his own life that happened with Prof Satish Dhawan. We were all honoured when he administered an oath that “I will work with integrity and succeed with Integrity“, I felt the wording to have been brilliantly coined, it was not about being with integrity alone, that can be done by not doing anything, but what’s important is to succeed with your integrity intact. Thank you, Sir.