Abdul Kalam and 'Anamika'
Mr. Umesh Nair, a very early reader of this blog, had quoted a classical Sanskrit verse as a comment to my very first post – way back in 2005. Its meaning goes approximately thus:
If one were to enumerate the great poets of antiquity on one’s fingers, the name ‘Kalidasa’ has to necessarily take the ‘kanishthika’ (the little finger, where counting begins). And the counting has to end right there, for the standards have been set impossibly high for any other name. The next finger, called ‘anamika’ in Sanskrit, thus truly becomes ‘anamika’ (literal meaning, “nameless”, "bereft of names").
I have seen a modern equivalent of this predicament play out many times. I often ask groups of college students (both undergrads and PGs) this question: “Name some great living Indian scientists”. They invariably start off with a collective “Abdul Kalam!” and that would simply be that - Anamika would invariably stay Anamika.
And of late, since the passing of our most popular President (and most popular motivational speaker and probably, the most popular non-fiction author) ever, the same question has begun to leave such collegians as I get to meet totally devoid of names.
Recently, I witnessed some academics participate in a program aimed at enhancing their ability to stimulate the spirit of enquiry among students. As an assignment, a short presentation on “Role Models” had to be made. And here is a picture they used:
Kalam's face has been rendered very identifiably; but what can one say of his companion? Guess I can make out, thru the mangled letters, the intended name but that face stumps me!
Very recently I saw a book in a Bangalore bookshop named: “Great Scientists”. Its cover had pictures of Newton, Einstein and Kalam (I did take a pic thereof but lost it somewhere).
And it is a safe bet to predict that Kalam's works will continue to be bestsellers for generations to come. I conclude with one of his aphorisms: