APJ Abdul Kalam is a renowned scientist of India. From a lowly background, he rose to eminence. He had a great devotion to experimental science. He pioneered modern space research and led a team of scientists to build a formidable defence system for the country. His achievements are many. But he is out and out a simple man. His thirst for knowledge is still on. He reveals himself brilliantly in his great autobiographical work The Wings of Fire. Here speaks a scientist. But the language has the charm of a poet.

The book helps us know the man Kalam. We learn how he wins the laurels. We know how he fights the odds. He has a great background. It is his family which gives him to support all the time. It is moral support as well as mental support. Kalam looks back to his early days. For, during that period his root is grounded well. Therefrom the tree of success spreads its muffled branches. Kalam pays homage to his family. We hear his voice-the voice of modern India.


A title adds charm to a piece of writing. It gives us an idea of the theme it deals with. We have a sense of preparedness before we start reading a composition. For the present case, the writer gives an account of his childhood, his growing up. We come to know of the great values he has inherited and cultivated in the process of his growth. He expresses his indebtedness to his parents. It is his mother who shows him the art of living together. She is a lady of great character.

Again, he has his father beside him. He is wise and sane. He is spiritual. Kalam has learnt a lot from his father. He has imbibed the spirit of tolerance and generosity of his father. The entire background Kalam had was his backing. Naturally, he regards it as strong roots. Kalam’s successful life is like a full-fledged tree. A well-rooted tree enjoys a good meaningful life of its own. Similarly, effective grooming of a man helps him much for his meaningful life. Kalam’s roots were very strong. That was why he was able to build his life so successfully. From this point of view, the title is a splendid choice.



Abdul Kalam came of a middle-class Tamil family in Rameswaram. His father Jainulabdeen was not wealthy but wise. He was large-hearted. Ashiamma, Kalam’s mother, was his ideal wife. She maintained the household carefully. She fed many

outsiders every day in the house. The family lived in an old house. Kalam’s father led a simple life. But he did not ignore his children’s basic needs. Kalam enjoyed a secure childhood. Kalam took lunch with his mother. It was very simple food, purely native and wholesome. Kalam’s locality was chiefly Muslim. But many Hindus lived there in perfect peace. Kalam would accompany his father to an old mosque for evening prayer. He recalled that people of all sects met his father there.

They wanted his blessings. Kalam’s father would touch their bowls of water and said a prayer. They brought the water home to cure the invalids. Another thing Kalam could recollect clearly. He saw his father discussing spirituality with his close friend Pakshi Lakshmana Sastry, the high priest of Rameswaram. Anyway, Kalam asked his father about the relevance of prayer.

He told him that prayer connected people spiritually. It makes a man feel one with the cosmos. It levels all disparities and differences. Kalam also learnt from his father the relevance of adversity. He inspired Kalam to take a fearless approach to adversity. Kalam wanted to know why his father did not tell people the value of adversity. He answered that he just helped people as a mediator. They were lonely and hopeless. They sought his advice. But he believed that it was not the correct attitude. A man should not be fearful of his destiny. He should recognize himself for his fulfilment. Kalam’s father maintained for a routine life all along. Anyway, Kalam was an ardent follower of his father all life long. His spirituality was his gift. Eventually, Kalam is led to believe that freedom, happiness and peace can be attained if a man frees himself from his corporal and emotional entity.




Strong Root is an extract of his masterpiece Wings of Fire. The writer established himself as a guardian scientist of his nation. But his life was not free from turmoils and crisis. Every great personality has a sound grooming. It helped him to go to the top. Fortunately for Kalam, he got that advantage. His mother was all pious. His father was a spiritual being. Kalam’s neighbourhood was supportive. All this combined to inculcate in him some richer values of life.

The present piece serves this purpose wonderfully. Here we have a fine picture of his parents. His father guided him always. His simple life motivated Kalam’s way of living. Kalam had doubts about prayer and spirituality. But his father dissolved all his doubts. Kalam followed his father in his world of science and technology. The life he found hard and challenging. But he fought all obstacles with courage and confidence. And the source of his courage was his strong roots, i.e., his family where he grew up with all love and care, discipline and honesty. The present piece follows a simple but standard language pattern.





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