On the day he died, Kalam showed his humanism

Posted on: 28 Jul 2015

New Delhi: As he drove into Shillong on the day he died, former president A.P.J. Abdul Kalam was worried that a soldier providing him security had to remain standing in an open jeep.

According to his advisor Srijan Pal Singh, Kalam expressed his concern for the soldier while driving from the airport to the Indian Institute of Management.

'Why is he standing? He will get tired. This is like punishment. Can you ask a wireless message to be given that he may sit?' Singh recounted Kalam as saying.

It was a telling example of the humanist the former president was known to be.

Dr APJ Abdul Kalam meeting the soldier who stood in the gypsy (photo courtesy: Srijan Pal Singh)

In one of the vehicles in Kalam's convoy, the soldier was standing guard in an open Gypsy van. Two other soldiers were seated in the vehicle.

In a touching post on Facebook, Singh said that one hour into the road journey, Kalam enquired about the standing soldier.

'I had to convince him that he had been probably instructed to keep standing to provide better security. But Kalam did not relent.

'We then tried radio messaging but that did not work.

'For the rest of the journey, he reminded me thrice to see if I can hand signal him to sit down. Finally, realizing there is little we can do, Kalam told me: 'I want to meet him and thank him'.

'When we reached IIM Shillong, I got hold of the standing guy. I took him inside, and Kalam greeted him.

'He shook his hand, said 'Thank you buddy. Are you tired? Would you like something to eat? I am sorry you had to stand so long because of me.'

'The young lean guard, draped in black cloth, was surprised... He lost words, and just said, 'Sir, aapke liye to che (six) ghante bhi khade rahenge', Singh recounted.

Singh describes himself on his twitter handle as 'Author, Entrepreneur. Advisor to kalam. Pragmatic spiritualist.'