Driver of late Abdul Kalam has become Professor today, Dr Kalam motivated him for education

Two decades ago, Kathiresan was a driver to A P J Abdul Kalam. Now he is an assistant professor at Arignar Anna Government Arts College in Tamil Nadu. He was inspired by Dr. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam.

Kathiresan joined the army in 1979. He was trained as an electrical mechanic in Bhopal before being posted as driver to Kalam at Defence Research and Development Laboratory (DRDL) in Hyderabad in the late 1980s.

A. P. J. Abdul Kalam – Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam was the 11th and the most-loved President of India. He was a well-known and reputed scientist who made India proud with his missile defence programme and he loves ‘teaching’ more than anything else.

On July 27, 2015, while lecturing at the IIM Shillong, Kalam fell down as he suffered a stroke and passed away. In 2010, the United Nations declared his birthday as ‘World Student’s Day’. A significant subject in the history of India is our Dr APJ Abdul Kalam. He is popularly known as the ‘Missile Man of India’.

It is said that Dr. Kalam was surprised when he saw Kathiresan reading newspapers, magazines, and books. After which, Kalam encouraged and motivated him to study further. Kalam financially supported him.

Kathiresan said, “I worked as driver for ayya (sir) for five and a half years. He was a very nice person, who is primarily responsible for the position where I am today”. “I always wanted to finish my studies, which I discontinued after my father’s death. Ayya’s words gave wings to my dreams,” he added.

Kalam gave DRDL’s employees numerous pep talks, always encouraging them to work harder to achieve their dreams. According to Mumbai Mirror, Kathiresan said.

Dr. Kalam had gone to Delhi, but Kathiresan continued his studies. After completing 10th standard, he went on to pursue his higher secondary, BA (history), and MA (history) from Madurai Kamaraj University.

He quit his job in 1996 so that he could devote much time to his studies and he joined the Chief Education Officer’s Office in Tirunelveli as a supervisor. He also completed his MA in political science and PhD in history from Tirunelveli. He then joined Arignar Anna Government Arts College in Salem district as an assistant professor.

“I had written to him to inform that I had quit DRDL and joined the CEO’s office. I was touched when I got a reply. By then, he had become the president. I still have the letter with me,” he said.

He used to work all day so that he could study at night. His wife supported him a lot in this. On August 6, the 47-yr-old joined as lecturer in Arignar Anna Government Arts College in Salem district. I had written to him to inform that I had quit DRDL and joined the CEO’s office. I was touched when I got a reply, he said. By then, he had become the President. I still have the letter with me.

Kathiresan further said, “Since my father owned some land, my wife was able to run the family without expecting money from me. I spent all the money I got as a salary on my studies. As my working hours as a driver were from 10 am to 5 pm, I studied in the evening. I was inspired by everyone in the DRDL.”

While talking further about the support and guidance he received from Kalam, he said, “The support I got from ayya played a major role in my transformation. He was interested in the welfare of his workers.”

Dharam Sikarwar
Writer, historian, and activist Dharam Sikarwar is a very active author The Youth. He writes on national and international issues, environment, politics. He is an avid book reader as well.