Whike he was known as a “visionary scientist”, former President A P J Abdul Kalam was also a “firm believer in God”.
“Many of us know Kalam only as a visionary scientist who could inspire and motivate others. While being a great scientist, Kalam remained a firm believer in God. He had the ability to pardon people who had committed mistakes. He used to say that God would take care of those who committed crimes. Many people do not know this facet of Kalam’s personality,’’ said former ISRO scientist Nambi Narayanan, who joined Kalam’s team of engineers in 1966.
Narayanan said after he was acquitted in the ISRO spy case, Kalam advised him against a legal battle. “He asked me why I wanted to sue them (police officers). He would say leave it to God, one cannot sell fabricated stories in the court of God,” he recalled.
Avinash Chander, former director general, Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), recalled how he, Kalam and other fellow scientists went to have a last-minute look at the Agni missile before the launch. “Everything was in place and the second test was slated to take place. That night, at midnight, Kalam called me and took me to the missile test facility to check last-minute preparations. I still remember what he told me then. He said, ‘Avinash, we have to do our best, but at one point we have to believe that God will take care of the rest of it’,” said Chander. “His death leaves a gap that cannot be filled… He was always there, giving courage to the (scientific) community. Today, if India is making missiles, it is because of him,” he said.
“I had a 13-year association with Kalam dating back to 1985. In 1989, during the first launch of Agni, the first attempt failed and the DRDO came under tremendous pressure from the government, media and even the scientific community,” recalled G Satheesh Reddy, scientific advisor to the defence minister. “Kalam never let the pressure that he faced percolate down to us, his team members. Instead, he kept encouraging us. We were together for almost two months during that time. Even the third attempt failed, but Kalam never lost his temper,” said Reddy.