Turning Points – A.P.J. Abdul Kalam
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The ignited mind of the youth is
the most powerful resource
on the earth, above the earth
and under the earth
With this belief, A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, former President of India, yet again seeks to inspire his countrymen in his book Turning Points – A Journey through challenges. In this sequel to his earlier autobiography Wings of Fire, Kalam shares a few events that lightened his horizon, brought a smile to his lips, taught him lessons and engaged him with the love of his fellow citizens. But more than anything this book serves to present a model of his great mission of making India a developed nation by 2020. It follows his journey of becoming the country’s eleventh President and after.
The book details out the seven essential turning points in his life. He started his career as a senior scientific assistant at the AeronauticalDevelopment Establishment in 1961 and soon went on to become a rocket engineer at ISRO. In 1998, PM Atal Behari Vajpayee offered to induct him in his cabinet but Kalam denied the offer as he had two major nuclear programmes at hand which needed his full-time involvement. Vajpayee supported his choice and in 2002, with a unanimous decision by leaders of all coalition parties, he was chosen as the country’s President.
In the book he talks about his tenure as the President, his focus on the introduction of e-governance and the evolution of the India 2020 vision, which he continues to work for. As the President he got a chance to meet the entire cross-section of society, he used this interaction to understand people, their aspirations and challenges and to bring them together for a common national mission.
He also shares stories about his father, elder brother and others, albeit briefly, which taught him important lessons in life. All through his writing, he comes across as a humble, grounded and honest man, who believes in humanity above all things. He writes in his usual straight and brief manner, giving lots of points about things like ten pillars of development, the development of villages and the reforms needed in the parliament. He talks about the successful testing of Agni V missile and the launch of India’s first Radar Imaging Satellite. He also discusses the devastating crash of the Airborne Surveillance Platform and the unfortunate Gujarat riots in 2002.
In a tone of nostalgia he talks about his love for gardens, particularly the Mughal Gardens, and some tough, controversial decisions that he had to take during his term. Post stepping down as the President, Kalam again dedicated himself to his teaching and research. He continues to address numerous programmes in the country and abroad, sharing the dreams of the youth and their spirit for the great mission of development. The author of 31 books, Kalam reproduces his vision for a developed India effectively in this book.