Reports of his death put the billion strong nation into a state of mourning. What was touching to see was the fact that most of the country's youth could relate personally to a politician, but more so were flooding social media sites of their own pictures with him. He travelled far and wide during his years as the country's First Citizen and later to spread his message.
Europe, today, needs someone of his aura and personality to bring the youth together. With the economic union being more a political union, the trust between its member states at perhaps the lowest ebb in years, the rife divisions that are building across borders, the European dream is at stake today much more than ever before. That is exactly what Kalam said, ''Man needs difficulties in life because they are necessary to enjoy success''.
Europe is a collection of people with cultures strewn across various lands- much similar to India. Europe needs a unifying personality, perhaps not a politician at all. Kalam, for his part hailing from the very state that wanted to avoid the suzerainty from Delhi and had harboured thoughts of leaving the federation all together, brought together the nation like none other- a personality that every Indian is proud of. The last time Europe stood unified, it moved nations, literally moved their borders, under de Gaulle, Churchill and others, but that was over seven decades ago.
Every now and then a nation or a group of nations need a unifying event. America had Kennedy, then the space programme, Germany had Hemut Kohl to bring about the reunification, the Czech Republic had Vaclav Havel, Poland had Lech Walesa, but who does Europe have as a whole? The individuals stood up against forces in their respective countries with a fervidness of regaining the national identity. Kings and monarchs can serve the idea of bringing the people together as the Queen is revered in the United Kingdom. Considering the democratic state Europe is looking to be, it was startling enough when King Simeon II, the Tsar of Bulgaria became the Prime Minister. We do not expect monarchs to make the transition into democratic politics, but Tsar Simeon does evoke the passion in the average Bulgarian.
President Kalam addressed the European Parliament in Strasbourg in 2007 during Poettering's presidency. The statesman, scientist and poet that he was enraptured the audience in the room. His speech was forward thinking, on knowledge sharing and empowering the youth. He even composed a poem 'The message from Mother India to the European Union' as his final words.
It is a tough ask for a European 'citizen' to go across borders, and woo the general populace. The European Parliament and Commission have been caught on the wrong footing with the common man in the southern European countries to start with. Furthermore, it sounds a bit derogatory to ask someone 'to go to Brussels'. With all due respect to the European project, Europe needs to stand up today and change it, but that is easier said than done. The European Steel and Coal Community of the post World War II setting is what we call in the modern day as the European Union. Change is slow, but it is continuous. Europe needs to look to the future, to see the dream of its youth realised, to stand united as one, towards a common goal. Europe must not sleep away to realise this dream. That is what Kalam said, ''Dream is not what you see when you sleep at night, but dream is something that does not let you sleep''. He breath his last delivering a speech to the students he so wanted to motivate. He was 83.