Respected Sir and Madam,
On Thursday (18th of December), 2014, I was deputed to cover the book launch of a Central Exercise Commissioner (Large Tax Payer Unit, Chennai) … but I didn’t cover the event despite being asked to do so by the city editor.
I have been asked to give a written explanation for failing to cover the book launch, which I acknowledge is only appropriate considering that I am an employee of the organization.
Yesterday I listed two stories. Both were assignments. One was the inauguration of a national conference on condition monitoring of vehicles (NCCMV) by former president Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam at the Combat Vehicle Research and Development Establishment (CVRDE) in Avadi, a DRDO establishment.
At a time, when India aims to be a strong military player in Asia and has entered into various defense deals to procure Rafale fighter jets and Scorpene submarines, I strongly felt the inauguration of NCCMV carried a bit edge to it than a book launch. The state of our fighting machines need to be in a top condition. A point could be argued supporting the book launch by stating I could have made contacts in the excise department, but I made much more contacts in the defense field than I could have hoped for. Personally, I was enriched by the rich lecture, given by Dr. Kalam, on a topic that I didn’t know beforehand.
I hope not to repeat an incident of this sort in the future.
At around 9.45 PM, on Monday evening, I received a phone call from a classmate at Shankar’s. “Hey, there are some reports about APJ’s health doing rounds online. Can you confirm it with your journalist contacts?” I ended the call promising him that I would do so.
However, my link with instant news (through the whatsapp group) was lost the very next day of my leaving Deccan Chronicle. I, hence, decided to switch on the television. While Arnab, in a solemn tone, was already engaging select guests and condoling the death of the ‘People’s President’, NDTV refused to confirm news of his demise. It was only after 15-odd minutes did a flash scroll beneath the screen carrying PTI’s confirmation.
“He had left the mortal world while doing what he loved doing the most. Addressing young minds and inspiring them to greater deeds.” Just like the age old saying goes that there could be no more greater honour for a performer than passing away while performing at a stage in front of his/her audience, APJ passed away while speaking to students at IIM Shillong.
Even as I tuned in to listen to what the newsmakers of our country had to say about the man, my brain was already thinking about a personnel tribute. And then it struck my mind.
“Tell me, why shouldn’t we act against you?” “The man is speaking on subjects every other day, what is special about today’s speech?” This was on the evening of 18th December, last year, when I skipped a direct instruction from my then bosses, in favour of a rendezvous with APJ. They were livid at me for not obeying the orders. I feared the worst but fortunately though, a explanation letter later (find it above), no action was taken. I emerged from that day as a even more ardent fan of APJ.
I always say this to those who would listen to me. “If you walk along and are met with say, 10 persons, then if you are recognised and greeted by at least 5 of them, with 3 among them really genuine, then be proud of your standing.” APJ sir, I just want you to know, wherever you are presently, that if you could only walk along any of the country’s roads, you would be warmly greeted by 9/10.
They often say the greatness of a person is measured, not during his living but at his passing away. Having admirably understood Presidentship is much more than a ceremonial post, you shall be remembered as the finest president we ever had. Much more than your credentials and endless achievements, it is your call to the nation and her youth about ‘dreaming big’ that makes you an eternal public figure.