The last thing APJ Abdul Kalam, in his lifetime, may have wanted was changing the Aurangzeb Road to his name. He never went after glory. Known for his simplicity, he would have opposed tooth and nail changing the name of the road – irrespective of how bad a ruler Aurangzeb was. But, everybody is doing their bit – some for their own glory – for keeping alive the memories of the great visionary.
A swanky newly-built mosque in Shillong where he died on July 27 last year set up a library in Kalam’s name. Very good! Books are something very closely associated with the Missile Man. He himself was a writer of a couple of bestsellers like Wings of Fire, his autobiography. On 27th, the mosque organised a Quran reading competition to observe the death anniversary. Nobody is sure if Kalam was great follower of the Quran! In the modern age – and Kalam was known to be a modern man with little impact of religion on his personality – most people have little knowledge about scriptures.
Bethany Hospital in Shillong shot to fame overnight for having the priviledge to offer the last treatment to the former President. The hospital has opened an emergency care unit in his memory. The IIM Shillong students, who were taught by Kalam on several occasions as a regular teacher, carried out a plantation drive. The premier institute where Kalam fell ill while addressing the students last year, started a lecture series. Besides, various institutes across the state and the country observed the death anniversary. He was associated with many institutions across the country and beyond. It’s fantastic to have so many activities happening in Kalam’s memory, but what is more important is to keep pondering whether they would be befitting his ideology and character. His name should not be hijacked – the most exploited being Mahatma Gandhi – by opportunists to fulfill their vested interests. The ‘Gandhi’ in the movie ‘Lage Raho Munna Bhai’ gave a strong message as he said ‘break all my busts, statues and try to follow what I wished you to be’.
(Published as editorial in The Meghalaya Guardian on July 29, 2016)