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Former President of India, late Dr. A.P.J Abdul Kalam

IITAC paid Tribute to our beloved former President of India, late Dr. A.P.J Abdul Kalam on August 6, 2015 at SVBF Community Centre, 84 Brydon Drive, Toronto, ON which was attended by Patrick Brown, Leader of Opposition at Ontario Legislature, Ms Indira Naidu Harris, MPP Halton Ontario, Mr. Akhilesh Mishra, Indian Consul General, Toronto and many other dignitaries. Vijay Aivalli, Vive President-Admin, IITAC spoke of behalf of IITAC. The speech and some photographs can be seen below:

Ladies and gentlemen,


“The heights by great men reached and kept were not attained in sudden flight but, they while their companions slept, they were toiling upwards in the night.”…..These words from poet Henry Longfellow fit admirably well for Dr APJ Abdul Kalam.


Dr Kalam came from a middle class family, but his accomplishment in every field was extra ordinary. After graduating from Madras Inst of Tech., he quickly rose to be a scientist associated with launch of India's first rocket at Thumba on 21st Nov. 1963. 


Yogaha karmasu kaushalam........Excellence in action is Yoga, and this Dr Kalam proved it over and over.


APJ Abdul Kalam was so much respected in Canada, that the current Governor-General His Excellency David Johnston, delayed his oath-taking in 2010 so that he could personally - as president of the University of Waterloo - confer an honorary doctorate on Dr Abdul Kalam.


I too had an opportunity to meet and interact with Dr Kalam, in Toronto 8 years ago, and again here at SVBF 2 years later. I got to interact with him for 3-4 minutes as I landed myself a chance to guide him by hand through the crowd from dais to main door of lecture hall. My wife and I also managed to get his autograph on two of his books: Wings of fire and India 2020.


I stand before you, as a representative IIT Alumni here in Canada, and we are fortunate that Dr. Kalam had a great connection with IITs. He has addressed IITians many a times, at IIT Delhi, Bombay, Madras, Guwahati, Kanpur and others. One of Dr Kalam's greatest speeches is considered to be the one he delivered at IIT Hyderabad on 25th May 2011, in which he said:

 I have three visions for India. In 3000 years of our history, people from all over the world have come and invaded us, captured our lands, conquered our minds. They came and looted us, took over what was ours. Yet we have not done this to any other nation. We have not conquered anyone. We have not grabbed their land, their culture, their history and tried to force our way of life on them. Why? Because we respect the freedom of others. That is why my first vision is that of FREEDOM. 


My second vision is for India’s DEVELOPMENT. For fifty years we have been a developing nation. It is time we see ourselves as a developed nation. We are among top 5 nations of the world in terms of GDP. We have 10 percent growth rate in most areas. Our poverty levels are falling. Our achievements are being globally recognized today. Yet we lack the self-confidence to see ourselves as a developed nation, self-reliant and self-assured. Isn’t this incorrect?


I have a THIRD vision. India must stand up to the world. Because I believe that, unless India stands up to the world, no one will respect us. Only strength respects strength. We must be strong not only as a military power but also as an economic power. Both must go hand-in-hand.


What can we learn from Dr. Kalam? 

1. Rest not till you have realized your dream (he was still dreaming as he spoke his last words on July 27th....dreaming of a strong and resurgent India). 

2. One is never in a disadvantage.......it is just that one has to learn how to take advantage (he came from a large lower middle class family and rose to highest position).

3. Be human first..........in my own world of friends, personal or through social media, I am yet to find a single person who did not say how 'humane' Dr Kalam was. And I hope all of you here agree with me here.


It is said: He never owned a television, and was in the habit of rising at 6:30 or 7 a.m and sleeping by 2 a.m.[114] His few personal possessions included his books, his veena, some articles of clothing, a CD player and a laptop.



Wings of fire, he has ignited them, it is for us to take off and make his dream of 2020 come true. That I believe will be a fitting tribute to Dr Kalam. 


On behalf of IIT Alumni Canada, I thank organizers for making this event happen.


Thank you all.

Vijay Aivalli

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