Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Wings of Fire: An Autobiography of APJ Abdul Kalam by Arun Tiwari

The book is very well written, one that would have been an interesting reading even if "Kalam" would not have been a president .My special congratulations to Mr.Arun Tiwari, the co-author who made it possible to blend in science with a human touch and human values.As usual in most autobiographies,the childood days of Kalam is the best part of the book ( the first few chapters) probably because these are purely emotional devoid of major goals and aspirations.
Another most conspicuous aspect of the book is practically no complaints or remarks about the Indian bureaucracy and the poor governance - manifestation of a scientist who saw as "half cup full" rather than "half cup empty". Special hats off for resisting the temptation to write about the failures of bad governance and sticking to the marvellous success of Indian science.

A minor weakness of the book is his repeated "Sarabai"sermons, continuously stressing the greatness of Vikram Sarabhai,something that you do not see in contemporary Autobiographies.The book is a must read for every Indian born after independence,especially for the youngsters and children . Ignorance ( even among teachers ) and Lack of these type of books are some of the reasons for low esteem and pride among Indians. India has done it..The children do not have to get inspirations and quotes from ancient history - they have among them "Abdul Kalam" to fall back upon as an example.

" I wanted to retire with a clean conscience " - If you can learn and understand his attempts to maintain ethics , that alone is worth more than the price of the book

I would compare "Wings of Fire" with "Made In Japan" by Akio Morito of Sony Corp. Both of them demonstrated the success of their country in critical fields during fragile times."Wings of Fire" is one of the finest chronicles of Post 1947 India's success in space programs. Unfortunately India has equally successful or failed projects that have literally vanished because of lack of authentic literature of this kind....

Not many of you would have read AUTHENTIC, UNBIASED books (biased,politicised books are in plenty) of Swaminathan's single minded Pioneering efforts in bringing agricultural revolution... Noon Meal scheme that transformed Tamilnadu's Literacy demographics, Manmohan singh's efforts to transform from socialism to Capitalism, Sanjay Gandhi's disastrous population control policy, PT Usha's attempt to bring in pride to Indian sports , failed war with China...The list goes on and on..Fortunately Space programme has an authentic,first hand,inspirational information from the finest officer of India.

Wanted to wrap up with a small quote from his childhood :

"I was homesick and wanted to get back to Rameswaram..I used the power of positive thinking to control my thoughts and my mind through these to influence my destiny. Ironically, that destiny did not lead me back to Rameswaram,but rather, swept me farther away from the home of my childhood"



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