July 28, 2015

Last Day of Dr. Kalam Recollected by His Advisor - Heartbreaking

It has been eight hours since we last talked – sleep eludes me and memories keep flushing down, sometimes as tears. Our day, 27th July, began at 12 noon, when we took our seats in the flight to Guhawati. Dr. Kalam was 1A and I was IC. He was wearing a dark colored “Kalam suit”, and I started off complimenting, “Nice color!” Little did I know this was going to be the last color I will see on him.

Long, 2.5 hours of flying in the monsoon weather. I hate turbulence, and he had mastered over them. Whenever he would see me go cold in shaking plane, he would just pull down the window pane and saw, “Now you don’t see any fear!”.

That was followed by another 2.5 hours of car drive to IIM Shillong. For these two legged trip of five hours we talked, discussed and debated. These were amongst hundreds of the long flights and longer drives we have been together over the last six years.

As each of them, this was as special too. Three incidents/ discussions in particular will be “lasting memories of our last trip”.

First, Dr. Kalam was absolutely worried about the attacks in Punjab. The loss of innocent lives left him filledwith sorrow. The topic of lecture at IIM Shillong was Creating a Livable Planet Earth. He related the incident to the topic and said, “it seems the man made forces are as big a threat to the livability of earth as pollution”. We discussed on how, if this trend of violence, pollution and reckless human action continues we will forced to leave earth. “Thirty years, at this rate, maybe”, he said. “You guys must do something about it… it is going to be your future world”

Our second discussion was more national. For the past two days, Dr. Kalam was worried that time and again Parliament, the supreme institution of democracy, was dysfunctional. He said, “I have seen two different governments in my tenure. I have seen more after that. This disruption just keeps happening. It is not right. I really need to find out a way to ensure that the parliament works on developmental politics.” He then asked me to prepare a surprise assignment question for the students at IIM Shillong, which he would give them only at the end of the lecture. He wanted to them to suggest three innovative ways to make the Parliament more productive and vibrant. Then, after a while he returned on it. “But how can ask them to give solutions if I don’t have any myself”. For the next one hour, we thwarted options after options, who come up with his recommendation over the issue. We wanted to include this discussion in our upcoming book, Advantage India.

Third, was an experience from the beauty of his humility. We were in a convoy of 6-7 cars. Dr. Kalam and I were in the second car. Ahead us was an open gypsy with three soldiers in it. Two of them were sitting on either side and one lean guy was standing atop, holding his gun. One hour into the road journey, Dr. Kalam said, “Why is he standing? He will get tired. This is like punishment. Can you ask a wireless message to given that he may sit?” I had to convince him, he has been probably instructed to keep standing for better security. He did not relent. We tried radio messaging, that did not work. For the next 1.5 hours of the journey, he reminded me thrice to see if I can hand signal him to sit down. Finally, realizing there is little we can do – he told me, “I want to meet him and thank him”. Later, when we landed in IIM Shillong, I went inquiring through security people and got hold of the standing guy. I took him inside and Dr. Kalam greeted him. He shook his hand, said thank you buddy. “Are you tired? Would you like something to eat? I am sorry you had to stand so long because of me”. The young lean guard, draped in black cloth, was surprised at the treatment. He lost words, just said, “Sir, aapkeliye to 6 ghante bhi khade rahenge”.

Kalam meets the guard who was part of his convoy. 
After this, we went to the lecture hall. He did not want to be late for the lecture. “Students should never be made to wait”, he always said. I quickly set up his mike, briefed on final lecture and took position on the computers. As I pinned his mike, he smiled and said, “Funny guy! Are you doing well?” ‘Funny guy’, when said by Kalam could mean a variety of things, depending on the tone and your own assessment. It could mean, you have done well, you have messed up something, you should listen to him or just that you have been plain na├»ve or he was just being jovial. Over six years I had learnt to interpret Funny Guy like the back of my palm. This time it was the last case.

“Funny guy! Are you doing well?” he said. I smiled back, “Yes”. Those were the last words he said. Two minutes into the speech, sitting behind him, I heard a long pause after completing one sentence. I looked at him, he fell down.

We picked him up. As the doctor rushed, we tried whatever we could. I will never forget the look in his three-quarter closed eyes and I held his head with one hand and tried reviving with whatever I could. His hands clenched, curled onto my finger. There was stillness on his face and those wise eyes were motionlessly radiating wisdom. He never said a word. He did not show pain, only purpose was visible.

In five minutes we were in the nearest hospital. In another few minutes the they indicated the missile man had flown away, forever. I touched his feet, one last time. Adieu old friend! Grand mentor! See you in my thoughts and meet in the next birth.
As turned back, a closet of thoughts opened.

Often he would ask me, “You are young, decide what will like to be remembered for?” I kept thinking of new impressive answers, till one day I gave up and resorted to tit-for-tat. I asked him back, “First you tell me, what will you like to be remembered for? President, Scientist, Writer, Missile man, India 2020, Target 3 billion…. What?” I thought I had made the question easier by giving options, but he sprang on me a surprise. “Teacher”, he said.

Then something he said two weeks back when we were discussing about his missile time friends. He said, “Children need to take care of their parents. It is sad that sometimes this is not happening”. He paused and said, “Two things. Elders must also do. Never leave wealth at your deathbed – that leaves a fighting family. Second, one is blessed is one can die working, standing tall without any long drawn ailing. Goodbyes should be short, really short”.

Today, I look back – he took the final journey, teaching, what he always wanted to be remembered doing. And, till his final moment he was standing, working and lecturing. He left us, as a great teacher, standing tall. He leaves the world with nothing accumulated in his account but loads of wishes and love of people. He was a successful, even in his end.

Will miss all the lunches and dinners we had together, will miss all the times you surprised me with your humility and startled me with your curiosity, will miss the lessons of life you taught in action and words, will miss our struggles to race to make into flights, our trips, our long debates. You gave me dreams, you showed me dreams need to be impossible, for anything else is a compromise to my own ability. The man is gone, the mission lives on. Long live Kalam.

Your indebted student,
Srijan Pal Singh
Kalam Sir with his advisor Srijan Pal Singh

10 quotes from our beloved Dr. Kalam that will Inspire us always

July 27, 2015

Milestones in Space Exploration


Mission Achievements

Country/ Organization

Mission Name


First German military liquid-fuelled rocket engines developed


Walter Riedel

10 May 1946

First space research flight (cosmic radiation experiments)

United States

captured and improved V-2 rocket

20 February 1947

First animals in space (fruit flies)

United States


21 August 1957

First intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM)


R-7 Semyorka/
SS-6 Sapwood

4 October 1957

First artificial satellite
First signals from space


Sputnik 1

3 November 1957

First animal in orbit, the dog Laika


Sputnik 2

2 January 1959

First firing of a rocket in Earth orbit
First reaching Earth escape velocity or Trans Lunar Injection
First detection of solar wind


Luna 1

7 August 1959

First photograph of Earth from orbit


Explorer 6

13 September 1959

First impact into another world (the Moon)
First delivery of national (USSR) pennants to a celestial body


Luna 2

4 October 1959

First photos of far side of the Moon


Luna 3

19 August 1960

First plants and animals to return alive from Earth orbit


Sputnik 5

31 January 1961

First Hominidae in space, first tasks performed in space; Ham (chimpanzee).


M-R 2

12 April 1961

First human spaceflight–(Yuri Gagarin)
First human-crewed orbital flight


Vostok 1

16 June 1963

First woman in space (Valentina Tereshkova)


Vostok 6

19 July 1963

First reusable crewed spacecraft (suborbital)


X-15 Flight 90

3 February 1966

First soft landing on another world (the Moon)
First photos from another world


Luna 9

1 March 1966

First impact into another planet (Venus)


Venera 3

3 April 1966

First artificial satellite around another world (the Moon)


Luna 10

2 June 1966

Soft landingon the Moon, photos from the Moon


Surveyor 1

21 July 1969

First human on the Moon and first space launch from a celestial body


Apollo 11

23 November 1970

First lunar rover


Lunokhod 1

12 December 1970

First X-ray orbital observatory



15 December 1970

First soft landing on another planet (Venus)
First signals from another planet


Venera 7

23 April 1971

First space station


Salyut 1

June, 1971

First Manned orbital observatory


Orion 1

14 November 1971

First to maintain orbit around another planet (Mars)


Mariner 9

27 November 1971

First impact into Mars


Mars 2

2 December 1971

First soft Mars landing
First signals from Mars surface


Mars 3

3 March 1972

First human made object sent on escape trajectory away from the Sun


Pioneer 10

15 July 1972

First mission to enter the asteroid belt and leave inner Solar System


Pioneer 10

15 November 1972

First orbital gamma ray observatory



15 July 1975

First multinational manned mission


Apollo-Soyuz Test Project

20 July 1976

First photos and soil samples from the surface of Mars


Viking Lander

12 April 1981

First Reusable manned spacecraft (orbital)



1 March 1982

First Venus soil samples & sound recording of another world


Venera 13

25 January 1983

First Infrared orbital observatory

Netherlands (NIVR)


13 June 1983

First spacecraft beyond the orbit of Neptune (first spacecraft to pass beyond all Solar System planets)


Pioneer 10

7 February 1984

First untethered spacewalk, Bruce McCandless II



24 January 1986

First Uranus flyby (closest approach 81,500 kilometres)


Voyager 2

19 February 1986

First consistently inhabited long-term research space station



25 August 1989

First Neptune flyby (closest approach at 29,240 km)


Voyager 2

18 November 1989

First orbital cosmic microwave observatory



14 February 1990

First photograph of the whole Solar System


Voyager 1

24 April 1990

Optical orbital observatory


Hubble Space Telescope

22 March 1995

Record longest duration spaceflight (437.7 days) set by Valeri Polyakov

Russia (FKA)


7 December 1995

First orbit of Jupiter



7 December 1995

First mission into the atmosphere of a gas giant (Jupiter)


Galileo's atmospheric entry probe

12 February 1997

First orbital radio observatory

Japan (ISAS)


4 July 1997

First operational rover on another planet (Mars)


Mars Pathfinder

20 November 1998

First multinational space station,
Largest man-made object built in space to date

Europe (ESA)
Japan (JAXA)
Canada (CSA)

International Space Station

14 February 2000

First orbiting of an asteroid (433 Eros)


NEAR Shoemaker

12 February 2001

First landing on an asteroid (433 Eros)


NEAR Shoemaker

1 July 2004

First orbit of Saturn

Italy (ASI)


19 November 2005

First asteroid ascent (25143 Itokawa).
First interplanetary escape without undercarriage cut-off.

Japan (JAXA)


15 January 2006

First sample return from comet (81P/Wild)



6 March 2009

Kepler Mission is launched, first space telescope designated to search for Earth-like exoplanets


Kepler Mission

13 June 2010

First sample return from asteroid (25143 Itokawa)

Japan (JAXA)


18 March 2011

First orbit of Mercury



25 August 2012

First manmade probe in interstellar space.


Voyager 1

12 November 2014

First man-made probe to make a planned and soft landing on a comet (67P/ChuryumovGerasimenko).



July 04, 2015

Topper of IAS-2014 exam - Ira Singhal

Ira singhal has topped the merit list of civil services exams 2014. UPSC declared the results today

Born to Rajendra Singhal and Anita Singhal, Ira is the only child of her parents.

4.5 feet tall Ira is physically handicapped but it did not diminish her determination to join India’s most prestigious government service.

She cleared UPSC civil services exam in 2010 and was allotted IRS but her short height became an obstacle in her joining the IRS service. The matter reached CAT which gave ruling in her favor last year.

Ira Singhal is currently working as assistant commissioner, Indian Revenue Service (Customs and Central Excise), government of India .

She worked as Customer Development Manager in Cadbury India limited from june 2008-january 2010

Ira belongs to Delhi and completed her 10th from Lorento convent and 12th from famous Army Public School, Dhaula kuan.

Ira did her B.E (Computer engineering) from Netaji Subhas Institute Of Technology and completed her masters of business administration (M.B.A) in marketing and finance from faculty of management studies-University of delhi.

Ira topped the exam in general category despite being physically handicapped.

"I wanted to be an IAS officer. I want to do something for the benefit of physically-handicapped people," she said.

She has keen interest in football and she is a strong votary of women empowerment.

She also has good control over Spanish Language. Ira has a good knowledge over Competitive analysis and Strategic Planning.

June 12, 2015

Books & Author - Must read for all competitive exams

Books and Author

  1. Life of Pi ------ Yann Martel
  2. When Loss is Gain ------ Diplomat Pavan K.Varma
  3. One Day Wonders ------ Sunil Gavaskar
  4. My life and Times ------ V.V. Giri
  5. Kalpana Chawla - A Life ------ Anil Padmanaban
  6. Kamasutra ------- Vatsayana
  7. War and Piece ----- Leo Tolstoy
  8. Devdas -------- Sharat Chandra Chatterjee
  9. Half a Life -------- V.S Naipoul
  10. Unhappy India ----- Lala Lajpat Rai
  11. Jyoti punj ------ Narendra Modi
  12. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes -- Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
  13. Economic History of India ------- R. C. Dutt
  14. The book of Indian Birds ------- Dr. Salim Ali
  15. Living with Honour ------ Shiv Khera
  16. We Indians, Train To Pakistan, Women and Men in My Life ------Khuswant Singh
  17. The Discovery of India -------- Jawaharlal Nehru
  18. Indian Philosophy -------- Dr. S. RadhaKrishnan
  19. Gulliver Travels ------- Jonathan Swift
  20. My Nation My Life ----- L.K. Advani
  21. Independence ------- S.K. Banerjee
  22. Last Days of Nethaji ------- G.D. Khosla
  23. My Experiments with Truth ------- Mahatma Gandhi
  24. The God of Small Things ------- Arundhati Roy
  25. War and Piece ------ Tolstoy
  26. Wakeup India ----- Annie Besant
  27. Two Lives, The Golden Gate, A Suitable Boy, Arion and The Dolphin, An Equal Music, From Heaven Lake:Travels ------ Vikram Seth
  28. India First ------- K. R. Malkani
  29. My Life -------- Bill Clinton
  30. Dreams From My Father -------- Barack Obama
  31. The Future of India ------- Dr. Bimal Jalan
  32. Hamlet, Othello, Macbeth, King Lear ------- Shakespear

June 08, 2015

General Knowledge - Facts File

1. BRICS bank (“New Development Bank”) headquarters?- China
2. “The Tunnel of Time” is the book written by? - RK Laxman
3. Total no. of matches played in World Cup? - 49
4. The Urban Cooperative banks associated with high powered committee? - R.Gandhi
5. First double century in the World cup tournament? - Chris Gayle (WI) against Zimbabwe
6. Expansion of “LRS”? Liberalised Remittance Scheme
7. The minimum paid-up equity capital for payments banks shall be? 100 Crore
8. A firm who come under the Social Responsibility scheme will be having the annual turnover in the range? - 500 Crore

9. Indian Govt has banned the 500 /-, 1000 /-,100 /- rupee notes of the year? 2005
10. Account for girl child proposed by Indian govt with the name? Sukanya Samridhi Account
11. Which actor started his debut career as commentator in the worldcup recently - Amitab Bachan
12. “Digital Village” is the scheme proposed by which bank? - ICICI bank
13. “Rupay” is the scheme proposed by which organization? - NPCI
14. The new name proposed for IRDA is? - Insurance Regulatory Development Authority of India
15. IFSC code that uniquely identifies a bank-branch was formed by? - RBI
16. MSME expansion? Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises
17. First mono rail is launched from ? - Mumbai
18. BMB is what type of bank? - Nationalised Bank
19. Cardless transaction introduced by? - ICICI bank
20. Expansion of NAV? - Net Asset Value
21. Finance commission increased the share of states from 32 to --------% Tax? - 42 %

June 07, 2015

Did you know these basic facts?

Q1. Where was the Civil disobedience movement launched in 1922?
Ans. Bardoli

Q2. At which session of the Indian National Congress was “Vande Mataram” sung for the first time?
Ans.1896 Session

Q3. When the Republic of India was officially proclaimed?
Ans. 26 January 1950

Q4. Who is father of the Nation?
Ans. Mahatma Gandhi

Q5. The colors of our Indian Flag hold a special significance. What does the blue wheel positioned in the center of the Flag signifies?
Ans. Wheel of Law

Q6. Indian National Congress was founded by?
Ans. Allan Octavian Hume

Q7. This PM pioneered the slogan "Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan". He got part of his name from Kashi Vidya Peetha. Who is he?
Ans. Lal Bahadur Shastri

Q8. Name the Prime minister who gave a very famous speech “A Tryst with Destiny”?
Ans. Jawaharlal Nehru

Q9. When the Salt March and civil disobedience started?
Ans. 11 March and 6 April 1930

Q10. When did Gandhiji start the Sabarmati Ashram?

Q11. Name the viceroy of India when the Rowlatt Act was repealed?
Ans. Lord Reeding

Q12. Who wrote the book “The origin of the Indian National Congress”?
Ans. Pattabhi Sita Ramayya.

Q13. In which act, the rule of East India Company ended in India?
Ans. Govt. of India Act, 1858.

Q14. Which year onwards Gandhi Jayanthi is celebrated as international non violence day?
Ans. 2007

Q15. When did India attain Independence?
Ans. 15 August 1947

Q16. “Swaraj is my birthright and I shall have it” is the slogan given by which famous leader?
Ans. Bal Gangadhar Tilak

Q17. Who gave Gandhi the title “Mahatma”?
Ans. Rabindranath Tagore

Q18. Who was the First President of Independent India?
Ans. Rajendra Prasad

Q19. When Jallianwala Bagh massacre took place?
Ans.April 13, 1919

Q20. Who was the viceroy of India when Montague- Chelmsford reforms were introduced?
Ans. Lord Chelmsford

Q21. Whose famous motto was: “Give me blood and I will give you freedom”?
Ans. Subhas Chandra Bose

Q22. Among the following leaders who was appointed as the viceroy of Independent India?
Ans. Lord Mountbatten

Q23. Who wrote the National Anthem of India?
Ans. Rabindranath Tagore

Q24. When was the English East India Company established?
Ans.1600 A.D

Q25. Who was the Governor General of India when the first war of India’s independence broke out in 1857?
Ans. Lord Canning

Q26. Who wrote the book “India’s First War of Independence”?
Ans. Vinayak Samodar Savarkar

Q27. Who was the Lal in Lal, Bal, Pal?
Ans. Lala Lajapathi Rai

Q28. Who created Indian National Army for Indian Independence?
Ans.Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose

Q29. Who set up the Indian Independence League?
Ans. Rash Bihari Bose

Q30. Who gave the slogan “Dilli Chalo” or “March to Delhi”?
Ans. Subhash Chandra Bose