1. He was the youngest 83-year-old India has ever seen: Even when he died, it was while delivering a lecture to students at IIM Shillong on a liveable plant. As Meghalaya chief secretary PBO Warjiri said, he passed away in his element, while delivering a lecture to youngsters, on a subject he loved.
2. He was the perfect symbol of meritocratic India, the ideal citizen, and the most positive Indian: Born in a village to a poor fishing family in Rameswaram, he rose through dint of his own hard work.
3. He was a Renaissance man: A Muslim, a player of the veena, as comfortable with the Quran as the Bhagvad Gita, Secretary of DRDO, president of India, as happy to write scientific papers as to write bestsellers for young India.
4. He always put India First: Whether it was as a scientist or President, he was a patriot first. From reportedly advising Sonia Gandhi to not becoming prime minister in 2004 to fathering the Pokharan explosion, he always said what he felt was right. He was inspired by three of India’s greatest scientists – Dr Vikram Sarabhai, professor Satish Dhawan and Dr Brahm Prakash. He took only two holidays in his life, it is said – both for deaths, of his father and mother.
5. He was the master of inspiring quotes: Here are just five:
“You have to dream before your dreams come true.”
“Great dreams of great dreamers are always transcended.”
“To succeed in your mission, you must have single-minded devotion to your goal.”
“Man needs his difficulties because they are necessary to enjoy success.”
“We should not give up and we should not allow the problem to defeat us.”