Dr. Kalam, who died yesterday, set the highest standards of public life in India.
When he was President of India, he insisted on paying from his own pocket the travel, food and other expenses of his relatives and friends who stayed in Rashtrapati Bhawan, since they were his private guests.
Whenever a name was recommended to him for appointment of a Judge of the Supreme Court or High Court he would get a secret enquiry made about the person, and if anything adverse was found he would return the file to the government with his objections. He also returned some bills passed by Parliament which he thought were unconstitutional.
This made him unpopular with the UPA government, which refused to give him a second term as President, and instead chose Pratibha Patil, who was a rubber stamp.
When I was Chief Justice of Madras High Court I went to Rameshwarm, his home town. I visited his home, and was received by his elder brother. The house was a simple cottage of a few rooms, with no ornamentation whatsoever. I thought that if it would have been another President, the house would have become a palace by now.
Even after retirement he continued teaching students, which was his passion.
He was Chief Guest at the Pongal-Sankranti Day which was a function organized a few years ago at my residence, whose picture you can see on my facebook page