On Tuesday of last week, when in the concluding remark of my address to the participants of the workshop organised by the Nursing Association on the theme Enhancing Customer Care in the Health Service, I quoted a ‘page of wisdom’ from the Life of former President Abdul Kalam of India, it did not for a second cross my mind that less than a week later we would receive the sad, shocking and sudden news of his untimely demise, that has not only put into mourning the entire Indian population but saddened people across the world, especially those who have had the privilege of meeting him or knowing him at close range.
A man of humble origin, personifying humility until he breathed his last, who through dint of hard work rose to become one of the world’s most renowned scientists of all generations and unanimously adopted as the People’s President of India, passed away in active voluntary service to the youth of India, for whom he had unbounded love and in whom he placed so much faith for the future of India and that of humanity.  Dr Abdul Kalam was in the middle of a lecture to students of the Indian Institute of Management in Shillong in the State of Meghalaya, when he suddenly collapsed. It is reported that he was rushed, in critical condition, to the ICU of Bethany hospital where all the efforts of the doctors unfortunately proved to be of no avail. He died at 7.45 p.m. on Monday 27th July at the age of 83. “India mourns the loss of a great scientist, a wonderful President and above all an inspiring individual”, eulogises Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on learning the passing of Dr Abdul Kalam.
Mauritius still keeps vivid memories of President Abdul Kalam’s official visit to Mauritius, in March 2006, as the Chief Guest for our National Day celebrations. Indian Presidents’ and Prime Ministers’ visits to Mauritius, and the reciprocal visits of their Mauritian counterparts, are not an uncommon but a recurrent feature in the perennial historic, cultural and economic relations between our two countries and nations, which those visits actually serve to nurture and consolidate. Presidents and Prime Ministers are ceremoniously welcomed, with banquets in their honour, meet with all the political leaders and local dignitaries and attend garden parties to add a common touch to their visits while they seldom depart from the established protocol. What will be retained from Dr Abdul Kalam’s visit is the inclusion, at the unusual request of his, of a meeting and interaction with the local fishing community. Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam never forgot nor was he ashamed of his origin as the son of a humble fisherman, born and raised in Rameshwaram, in the State of Tamil Nadu. However unfavourable the conditions in which a child grows up, his dream of reaching the sky can be fulfilled, with faith in himself, discipline, dedication and hard work. This, I believe, is one of the crucial messages he wanted to convey to us, when he expressed the wish of meeting with our fishing community, often scorned and looked down upon.
The unofficial biography of Dr Abdul Kalam reveals that after graduating from the Madras Institute of Technology, studying physics and aerospace engineering, he joined the Defence Research & Development Organisation, focussing mainly on research in defence and space arena. He was later involved in India’s missile programme. His personal contribution to India’s satellite programme, guided and ballistic missiles project, nuclear weapons programme and Light Combat Aircraft project earned him the name of ‘Missile Man of India’ and ever since became a household name. He was later to play a crucial role when India tested, in 1998, its nuclear weapons at Pokhran. Having never been trained outside India, he took pride in proclaiming himself a ‘Made in India’ product, as was most of the technology he spearheaded.
On July 18, 2002 the highly respected and popular Missile Man of India, with his flowing grey hair, entered Rashtrapathi Bhawan in Delhi, to assume office as the 11th President of India. He was to discharge the duties of his high Office with such distinction that by the time he completed his 5-year term of Office he had earned the reputation of being the “people’s President”.
While going though some of his thoughts and writings one can safely conclude that he combined in him the best of humankind. Besides being a pure product of India, a scientist of international repute, a role model for the Youth of the World, he was also a philosopher and a devout Muslim known for his moral rectitude.
This is what prompted me, on Tuesday last, to refer my audience, made up mainly of practising nurses, to the page of wisdom that Dr Abdul Kalam has left us with when he related the following story drawn from his childhood days:
​"When I was a kid, my Mom cooked food for us.
One night in particular when she had made dinner after a long
hard day's work, Mom placed a plate of 'subzi' and extremely
burnt roti in front of my Dad.
I was waiting to see if anyone noticed the burnt roti.
But Dad just ate his roti and asked me how was my day at school.
I don't remember what I told him that night, but I do remember
I heard Mom apologising to Dad for the burnt roti.
And I'll never forget what he said: "Honey, I love burnt roti."
Later that night, I went to kiss Daddy good night & I asked
him if he really liked his roti burnt. He wrapped me in his arms &
"Your momma put in a long hard day at work today
and she was really tired”.
And besides... A burnt roti never hurts anyone but
"You know beta - life is full of imperfect things...
imperfect people...
I forget birthdays & anniversaries just like everyone else.
What I've learnt over the years is:
“To Accept Each Other’s Faults
Choose To Celebrate Relationships"
Life Is Too Short To Wake Up With Regrets!
Love the people who treat you right
have compassion for the ones who don't."
May the soul of this honourable man rest in peace!


We mourn the loss of a greatman of India.Indeed a source of inspiration. In a country where religion,caste,casteim,socio-economic status have quite a say in the daily life of the individual Abdul Kalam from a very modest family through hardwork and perseverance and with the support of those who believed in him brought Mother India to the international scientific field, rose to great heights and presided over the world`s largest democracy. And he always remained humble "The People`s President" till his last days.
It was a priviledge for me, then Medical Superintendent at Dr Jeetoo Hospital to form part of the team providing health coverage during his visit in our island in 2006.
Rest in Peace Sir.