Friday, December 23, 2011
Wings of Fire- An Autobiography
WRITTEN BY: Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam, and Arun Tiwari
1ST PUBLISHED: 1999
ISBN 13: 978-81-7371-146-6
ISBN 10: 81-7371-146-6
Dr. A.P.J Abdul Kalam has come to personally represent to many of his countrymen the best aspects of Indian life. In his autobiography, he ascribes, with characteristic modesty, the greatness of his achievements to the influence of his teachers and mentors. He describes the struggles of his boyhood and youth, bringing alive everyday life in a small town in South India and the inspirational role of educators.
He describes the role of visionary Indian scientists, such as Dr. Vikram Sarabhai, and of the creation of a coordinated network of research institutions. This is also the saga of independent India’s struggle for technological self sufficiency and defensive autonomy- a story as much about politics, domestic and international, as it is about science.
Each individual creature on this beautiful planet is created by God to fulfill a particular role. Whatever I have achieved in life is through His help, and an expression of His will. He showered His grace on me through some outstanding teachers and colleagues, and when I pay my tributes to these fine persons, I am merely praising His glory. All these rockets and missiles are His work through a small person called Kalam, in order to tell the several million mass of India to never feel small or helpless. We are all born with a divine fire in us. Our efforts should be to give wings to this fire and fill the world with the glow of its goodness.
It’s a book that needs no introduction. I had been thinking of reading this one ever since I went to a painting exhibition inaugurated by Dr. Kalam some time ago, at the art gallery of the Triveni Kala Sangam, in New Delhi. And I am really glad that I finally got down to reading it- thanks to the reading challenge, and a dear friend of mine who has lent it to me. However, I am actually thinking of getting my own copy now.
It was quite tough choosing the excerpt- I would quote nearly everything if I could! I finally decided on the one above, for what I love most about Dr. Kalam is his love for God as well as his interest in, and regard for, all religions. The autobiography, co-written with Arun Tiwari, who worked under Dr. Kalam for over a decade in the Defense Research and Development Laboratory (DRDL), is not just a book about science and politics, but also a collection of anecdotes, recollections, and pictures from the former President’s life.
Dr. Kalam recounts incidents from his childhood, and emphasizes on the profound impact that his family, friends, teachers and relatives had on him. He reminisces about his relative Ahmed Jallaluddin’s “special connection to God” that he used to wonder about as a child; he thinks back on his interaction with his best friends Ramanadha Sastry, Aravindan, and Sivaprakasan.
There’s his love for English literature, Philosophy, and of course, Physics that he shares with us. What’s extraordinary, and remarkable, is his firm belief that there’s an intimate connection between science and spirituality. He refers to his childhood dreams, his love for aeronautics and his passion for science and, indeed, for life. What touches the heart is the humility and honesty that is ever so evident in every word. Enjoyable and, more importantly, truly inspirational- it’s an autobiography I feel proud to have read.
RATING: 4 on 5
PRICE: Rs.250/- (Universities Press)
NUMBER OF PAGES: 180
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