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St Joseph’s Trichy remembers alumnus Kalam

“Whenever he addressed us, he used to mention several names of his teachers, what they taught, specific portions they covered, and how they taught,” Dr John recollected.

APJ Abdul Kalam:@APJAbdulKalam tweeted on Jul 19- couple of days back, I met my teacher Rev. father Chinnadurai,92 years at Dindugal. He taught me nuclear physics in 1952.

The St. Joseph’s College-Trichy (SJC-T) honoured its former student Dr A P J Abdul Kalam on July 28.

The Jesuit priests and students council led a silent memorial procession round the college road carrying the portrait of Dr Kalam, assembled in front of Lawley hall and paid floral tributes to the former Indian president.

A pall of gloom engulfed the entire campus when the news came of the sudden and untimely demise of one of its illustrious sons, Dr Kalam, on July 27.

Despite it being a holiday, 5000 odd students from both morning and afternoon shifts plus school children attended the procession and condolence meeting held later, vouching Dr Kalam’s popularity in his alma mater.

“There was no notice or announcement whatsoever about condolence meeting or procession.Yet students from shift I that starts at 8.30 am and shift II that starts at 1.30 pm spontaneously arrived at the campus even before 8 am and attended the procession and condolence meeting that was over only around 11 am,”said Dr G John, Associate Professor of Commerce at SJC-T.

SJC-T had a special bondage with Dr Kalam, who always acknowledged the college’s role in his persona. Dr Kalam was a regular visitor to SJC-T for the last 20 years, from the time he was with DRDO and also the scientific advisor to PM.

“On every visit to SJC-T, Dr Kalam used to tell us a lot of instances from his life to kindle the fire in us. Whenever he visited, it was an ocean of experience for each of us,” Dr John said.

Dr Kalam loved SJC-T college band (Camboulives Band) which is 120 years old. Whenever he visited the campus, the band used to be in full attendance. When Kalam visited the college for its 160th anniversary, he was the President. Dr John recalled that after the band played the National anthem, as he was alighting from the stage, Kalam broke free from the security to exchange pleasantries with the band members.

“Whenever he addressed us, he used to mention several names of his teachers, what they taught, specific portions they covered, and how they taught,” Dr John recollected.

He also used to visit his Physics department where he did his Intermediate Course of one year and B.Sc. Physics. He would enter the class where he studied, sit where he used to sit, close his eyes cherishing his fond memories. He would also visit New Hostel, and the room he stayed for four years with nostalgia.

Dr. Kalam was always grateful to his alma mater. Whenever he visited SJC-T, he would always honour the Jesuit priests by visiting their residence. There was one priest whose name he would mention in all the meetings and speeches: Rev. Fr. Chinnadurai, who taught him Nuclear Physics. Kalam never passed Trichy without meeting him. When Fr. Chinnadurai’s movement was restricted due to old age, Kalam would go to his room, sit by his side and would listen to him.

Kalam last visited him on July 18 in Dindigul and spent some time with him. After his visit he tweeted “couple of days back, I met my teacher Rev. Father Chinnadurai, 92 years at Dindugal. He taught me nuclear physics in 1952”.

The foundation for Kalam’s persona was laid during his formative years in SJC-T under the careful guidance of the Jesuit priests, which he often acknowledged in public meetings. He mentioned the influence of Father T. N. Sequeira on his life, and his gratitude to the principal priest for mentoring him with moral science education which pushed his urge to strive to foster a value-based society and world.

In his book, Wings of Fire he writes, “The lessons on subatomic physics at St. Joseph’s by my physics teachers, Prof. Chinna Durai and Prof. Krishnamurthy, introduced me to the concept of the half-life period and matters related to the radioactive decay of substance…At St. Joseph’s, I was lucky to find a teacher like the Rev. Father T. N. Sequeira. He taught us English and he was our hostel warden…The vivid memory of our Mathematics teachers, Prof. Thothathri Iyengar and Prof. Suryanarayana Sastry, walking together on the campus inspires me to this day.”

Source: Indian Currents

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