Thursday, August 20, 2015

[Book] Turning Points: Journey through Challenges - Dr APJ Abdul Kalam

"Wings of Fire", the autobiography of late Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam inspired millions of people across not only India but world at large. It narrated an amazing, true life story of a small boy from the sands to Rameswaram who became one of the one most prominent scientists of the country.

However, it didn't tell the complete story: the same boy went on to become the 11th President of our country!

This is the stuff that legends are made of, and I was hoping that one day Dr Kalam would again write his memoirs to pick up from where he left us in the Wings of Fire.

"Turning Points: Journey through Challenges" is the answer to my hopes and wishes.

In this book, Dr Kalam writes in detail about his tenure as the President of India and his teaching experiences. He describes the turning points that shaped his life: ISRO... DRDO... TIFAC... PSA... and others. 
In a chapter, he shares what he learnt from the various people he came across in his life, be it his elder brother, his mentors like Dr. Sarabhai, Dr Dhawan or Dr Brahma Prakash, and... Yes, the politicians!

Dr Kalam initiated many activities in the Rashtrapati Bhavan, such as e-governance, teleconferencing, re-vitalizing the beautiful Mughal Gardens, and many more. He candidly explains his thought process by which he arrived at his decisions as the President. This chapter makes for an engrossing and informative reading.

Unlike Wings of Fire which had lot of personal anecdotes, this book is more about Kalam's vision of India 2020. Many chapters are devoted to a 'blueprint' for reforms to make judiciary, parliament and government more efficient and responsive. 

It's a small book, just 150 pages, and can be finished in a single seating.  Language is simple, direct and unornamented. There are many photographs that show Dr. Kalam's life during his presidential days, and his interactions with a wide range of people, right from heads of state such George W. Bush to small school children.

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