From Abdul Kalam’s driver to History professor: The journey of V Kathiresan

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Today marks the 89th birth anniversary of the real superhero of India or as many calls the Missile Man of India, former president Dr APJ Abdul Kalam. The missile man of India has many achievements under his belt from heading the nuclear tests at Pokhran that made India a nuclear nation to leading the development of India’s first satellite launch vehicle (SLV) the list goes endless.

But this story is not about Kalam . It’s about one of his close associates V Kathiresan. Who started as a personal driver of the Missile Man but ended up becoming a history professor. The spark that Kalam had with him always ignited the mind and soul of a simple class 9 pass V Kathiresan who completed his PhD in 2002 and became a professor at Arignar Anna Government Arts College in Tamil Nadu.

Born in 1962 in Tamil Nadu, then class 9 pass V Kathiresan joined the Indian Army in 1979 and in 1982 posted as a driver to Kalam at Defense Research and Development Laboratory (DRDL) Hyderabad. A very down to earth Kalam always urged Kathiresan to continue with his studies. He always motivated his employee at DRDL and encouraged them to work hard to achieve their dreams. He always motivated Kathiresam to continue his education and made arrangements to make Kathiresam rewrite English, the subject he had failed once. 

Talking to The Kathiresam said that he got 26 out of 35 in English in class 10. Ayya (He called Kalam) helped him to buy English books and also taught him English for which he was able to clear the class 10 Engish examination with 44 marks in 1982. Ayya then motivated him to complete his 12th  and then there was no looking back. He then completed his graduation and post-graduation with History major in addition to bachelors and masters in Education.

Kalam and Kathiresam stayed together for a decade until Kalam was transferred to Delhi in 1992. But his constant words of motivation never left Kathiresam. In 1998 he voluntarily retired from the military and opted for a PhD in History at Manonmaniam Sundaranar University in Tirunelveli, Tamil Nadu. He received his PhD degree in 2002 by then Kalam had become the president of India. 

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.

Kathiresan, who is now guiding nearly a dozen Phd research scholars, is one of the ignited minds of Kalam, which is soaring on wings of fire.

Stories like these speaks tonnes about the kind of person Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam was. Signing off with a beautiful quote by Mr. Kalam

Where there is righteousness in the heart, there is beauty in the character. When there is beauty in the character, there is harmony in the home. When there is harmony in the home, there is order in the nation. When there is order in the nation, there is peace in the world.
A P J Abdul Kalam
Former President of India


1 thought on “From Abdul Kalam’s driver to History professor: The journey of V Kathiresan

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