Despite being an eminent scientist and holding a commanding position as India’s president, APJ Abdul Kalam used to empathise with people from all sections of society and never displayed a shred of pomposity, say eminent nuclear physicists.
Bikas Sinha, former director of the Kolkata-based Variable Energy Cyclotron Centre (VECC) and the Saha Institute of Nuclear Physics (SINP), said Kalam was a “charming person without any pomposity whatsoever” for a person of such eminence.
“I invited Kalam, when he was DRDO chief, to SINP when it reached 50 years. He mentioned that he uses the Meghnad Saha equation to determine the trajectory of missiles. That was very interesting,” recalled Sinha, who was SINP director at the time.
“I will miss him as friend,” the Padma Bhushan awardee added.
Nuclear physicist Dinesh Kumar Srivastava, the current VECC director, noted Kalam’s ability to empathise for all.
Based on his experience with the former president, Srivastava likened Kalam’s habit of reading letters and replying to all of them to that of Albert Einstein.
“I received a letter claiming that time can be converted into energy, as all unstable particles decay in time and give out energy. The person writing the letter also met me, but he was not satisfied and he wrote to Kalam.
“Sure enough, a few days later I got a call from Rastrapati Bhavan from one of the advisors of the president. The president, I was told, ‘had requested’ that I should call the person again and explain to him in greater detail why his idea did not have any scientific basis,” Srivastava remembered.
“It reminded me of the fact that Albert Einstein also used to receive a large number of letters and he used to try to reply to all of them. It was this empathy with the people, how-so-ever placed, which set him apart and endeared him to all,” he said.
Sibaji Raha, director of the Bose Institute and an internationally acclaimed authority on high energy particle and nuclear physics, said Kalam’s disciplined attitude was a benchmark for practising scientists.