09 August 2015

Philatelic memories with Dr APJ Abdul Kalam




In this post I am sharing here memories with Dr Kalam of  some distinguished philatelists and readers of Rainbow Stamp Club. I thank Mr Abhai Mishra, Dehradun Mr Vijay Deshpande, Mumbai and Mr Pradeep Jain, Patna and Mr Prashant Pandya, Vadodara for this Post.



APJ - Philatelic Tribute

- Abhai Mishra

There is no second opinion that, APJ was a great man loved by all. After his demise many has shared their experience with him. I am writing this particular piece to elaborate his association with DRDO and Dehradun. He was born on 15 October 1931 at Rameshwaram, Tamilnadu. Since childhood he had an intense desire to become Air Force pilot. He completed his degree in Aeronautical Engineering from Madras Institute of Technology. He came to Dehradun in 1957 to appear for the Air Force Selection Board (AFSB).

He finished ninth in the batch of 25. Eight were selected for commissioning. He was highly dejected as his childhood dream was shattered and took a bus to Rishikesh. There he met Swami Sivananda, who told him "Accept your destiny and go ahead with your life. You are not destined to become an Air Force pilot. What you are destined to become is not revealed now but it is predetermined. Forget this failure, as it was essential to lead you to your destined path. Search, instead, for the true purpose of your existence. Become one with yourself, my son! Surrender yourself to the wish of God."


He initially joined Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO) in 1958 and then joined ISRO in 1963. The story of his joining DRDO again is very interesting. DRDO has a laboratory named Defence Electronics Applications Laboratory (DEAL) in Dehradun. In 1981 Dr. EB Rao was the Director of DEAL. In June 1981 he invited Dr. Raja Ramanna who was DRDO chief at that time and Dr. Kalam who was working as Director in ISRO HQ, Bangalore to DEAL, Dehradun for technical discussions. On 13 June 1981, Dr. Raja Ramanna asked Dr. Kalam to join DRDO in the very office of Director DEAL at Dehradun. Dr. Kalam said that Dr. Satish Dhawan will have to decide on it who was then the ISRO chief. Exactly after one year of the offer

Dr. Kalam joined DRDO as Director DRDL, Hyderabad. Out of his initiative was born the Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme (IGMDP), which is the most successful Indian military research task to date. He also headed other prestigious projects, such as the MBT Arjun and the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) projects. He was the DRDO chief from July 1992 to December 1999. He took DRDO to greater heights during his tenure. He was also appointed as the Principal Scientific Advisor to the GOI. Dr Abdul Kalam was a strong advocate of self reliance in defence technology. A connoisseur of classical Karnatak music, he played veena in his leisure.


He was very humble in nature. His affinity with DEAL, Dehradun was very intense and visited the lab several times. I joined DEAL in 1996 and was very young at that time. During one of his visits, I was allotted two minutes to give my presentation. In my enthusiasm to apprise him with all my work, I started speaking at such a pace that it became almost impossible for him to understand. He smiled, sat beside me and said "Do not be in hurry, I will sit as long as it is required but speak slowly". He was eating oranges at that time. He offered me some but I politely refused. While leaving he asked for the dustbin which was not in the room. He put the oranges peel in his pocket and quietly walked away. Such was the humility of this man who was SA to RM at that time.



During his tenure as DRDO chief, a stamp was issued on 26 Jan 1999. The flagship IGMDP program was commemorated by the issue of stamp on Agni-II missile on 01 Jan 2000. During Aero India 2003, stamp featuring LCA (Light Combat Aircraft) was issued.He visited Dehradun after becoming President also. The then Governor of Uttarakhand Sh. Sudarshan Agarwal asked me in 2005 to design a special cover for Him Jyoti Foundation which basically caters for the schooling of the under-privileged children. Dr. Kalam was very fond of children and had been with the children of Him Jyoti couple of times. In the cover I included Dr. Kalam interacting with the children of Him Jyoti school.


DRDO celebrated its Golden Jubilee in 2008, during which a special cover was released at DEAL Dehradun. Dr. Kalam was also instrumental in the joint collaboration of Brahmos missile with Russia. It is still one of the most deadliest missile with Indian Navy. In 2008 only, Brahmos was commemorated with a stamp.


Dr. Kalam has inspired millions of young minds and will always remain a guiding energy for the generations to come.

clip_image010- Abhai Mishra – Dehradun : email : abhai_mishra@rediffmail.com

Abhai Mishra is an amateur philatelist from Dehradun. He has designed many special covers and cancellations for the Deptt. of Posts. and has written books on stamps and covers of Uttrrakhand and covers related to Antarctica Expedition. Professionally he is a scientist with Defence Research and Development and presently working at DEAL Dehradun.

In Mumbai, soon after the Pokhran Test II


- Vijay Deshpande, Mumbai


Pradip Jain with Dr APJ Abdul Kalam while releasing Mr Jain’s Book ‘ “ Indian Airmails Development and Operation ” ( 1911 – 1945) at Raj Bhawan, Patna on 30th May 2014.

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