Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam: Former President of India
  Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam    
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22-12-2004 : PALAMPUR
Creativity and the Young

I am delighted to interact with the School children belonging to various schools located in and around Palampur. I greet the State Education authorities, principals, teachers, students and other distinguished guests. I was thinking what thoughts I can share with you on this occasion. I would like to share my experience with a eleven year old girl who came to Rashtrapati Bhavan on 28th July 2004. Her name is Miss Darshana Prakasam and her parents belong to Erode, Tamil Nadu. She is presently studying in USA in class VII. Even though she is being educated in United States she is fluent and proficient in Tamil, her mother tongue. She is a confident girl and has made a self-assessment of herself. She sums up her characteristics as passionate, outgoing, patient, innovative, organized and determined. She has written a number of poems. At present she is keen to take up a project to provide quality education to our rural children. She is confident of motivating other children to join her in this mission and mobilize funds required for this project. According to her a leader should have the following fourteen traits: (a) honesty (b) optimism (c) determination (d) looking beyond (e) judgment (f) problem solving (g) courage (h) being concise (i) collaboration (j) stimulating (k) assisting (l) fervour (m) public speaking & (n) organization.


Darshana wants to be the co-ordinator of the children education programme and she says she will decide what will be taught and how it should be taught. Apart from executing all-important decisions of the programme she would like to oversee the teaching by the volunteers. She proposes to mobilize a number of volunteers with teaching ability to teach the children both in urban and rural areas. Once the children are taught she proposes to use the same children to educate other children in the village. This programme will mainly be targeted to those children in small towns and villages who do not have access to learning leadership skills and are not in a position to exercise their maximum potential. She feels that learning leadership skills is not as easy as learning arithmetic and literature. I am sharing with you this example so that many of you can emulate this model and can become leaders like Darshana Prakasam in many fields. Apart from excelling in studies such as science, mathematics, social sciences and languages you have to become leaders with some of the qualities mentioned by Darshana Prakasam. I am sure your principal and teachers will help you in realizing this goal.

Now I would like to discuss with you the Marvels of the Universe.


Marvels of the Universe

Vikrant Nahal Arya of Sanskriti School and Rupanjali Lahiri of St Thomas School, New Delhi, had a personal interaction with me at Rashtrapati Bhavan. Among many questions during the interaction, they asked me a very simple question, which led me to think. The question was: " Your birthday has recently gone by. What were your thoughts on that day?." They wanted to know what my birthday meant to me. It meant for me that I had completed 72 orbit around the sun, and had entered my 73rd orbit. Think of our Universe. I am amazed and always inspired by the dynamics of our universe. Our star (sun), its planets, every celestial object has a purpose. If the Earth stopped rotating around its axis, what would happen? No day, No Night, No Earth. If Sun does not orbit, the entire solar system collapses. Think of it. The sun also orbits around the Milky Way. Isn't it? It takes the Sun 250 million years for one orbit around Milky Way, our galaxy. Compare that to my 73rd orbit. What does that mean? One single citizen completing 72 orbit. It is an insignificant event, compared to dynamics of universe. But human mind is innovative and can think and explore the marvels of universe. The cross section of people of young age group have inspired mind to make the nation great. A study of the Marvels of Universe and seeing individuals like Darshana Prakasam will definitely enhance the inspiration and enthusiasm in all of you. This inspiration is a big force and the teachers and parents can ignite the youngsters. All that they need is to give them a challenging task and help them when they encounter problem.

Now I would like to talk to you about my primary school teacher who inspired me to take up Aeronautics as a profession.


My Primary School teacher Shri Siva Subramania Iyer

When I think of my primary teacher, I am reminded of my childhood days. While I was in 5th class at the age of 10, I had a teacher, Siva Subramania Iyer. He was one of the very good teachers in our school. All of us loved to attend his class and hear him. One day he was teaching about bird's flight. He drew a diagram of a bird on the blackboard depicting the wings, tail and the body structure with the head. He explained how the birds create the lift and fly. He also explained to us how they change direction while flying. Nearly for 25 minutes he gave the lecture with various information such as lift, drag, how the birds fly in a formation of 10, 20 or 30. At the end of the class, he wanted to know whether we understood how the birds fly. I said, I did not understand how the birds fly. When I said this, the teacher asked the other students whether they understood or not. Many students said that they also did not understand. He did not get upset by our response since he was a committed teacher.

Our teacher said that he would take all of us to the sea shore. That evening the whole class was at the sea shore of Rameswaram. We enjoyed the roaring sea waves knocking at the sandy hills in the pleasant evening. Birds were flying with sweet chirping. He showed the sea birds in formations of 10 to 20 numbers. We saw the marvelous formations of birds with a purpose and we were all amazed. He showed us the birds and asked us to see that when the birds fly, what they looked like. We saw the wings flapping. He asked us to look at the tail portion with the combination of flapping wings and twisting tail. We noticed closely and found that the birds in that condition flew in the direction they desired. Then he asked us a question, where the engine is and how it is powered. Bird is powered by its own life and the motivation of what it wants. All these things were explained to us within fifteen minutes. We all understood the whole bird dynamics from this practical example. How nice it was? Our teacher was a great teacher; he could give us a theoretical lesson coupled with a live demonstration available in nature. This is real teaching. I am sure many of the teachers in schools and colleges will follow this example.

For me, it was not merely an understanding of how birds fly. The bird?s flight entered into me and created a special feeling. From that evening, I thought that my future study has to be with reference to flight and flight systems. I am saying this because my teacher's teaching and the event that I witnessed decided my future career. Then one evening after the classes, I asked the teacher, "Sir, please tell me, how to progress further in learning all about flight." He patiently explained to me that I should complete 5th class, and then go to high school, and then I should go to engineering college that may lead to education on flight. If I complete all my education with excellence, I might do something connected with flight sciences. This advice and the bird flying exercise given by my teacher, really gave me a goal and a mission for my life. When I went to college, I took Physics. When I went to engineering in Madras Institute of Technology, I took Aeronautical Engineering.

Now I would like to administer a Ten-point oath for enlightened citizenship. Are you ready? Will you repeat with me?


Ten point oath for enlightened citizenship

1. I will love whatever profession I take up and I will try to excel in it.

2. From now onwards I will teach at least 10 persons to read and write those who cannot read and write.

3. I will plant ten saplings/trees and ensure their growth.

4. I will go to rural and urban areas to reform at least five persons from the habits of addiction and gambling.

5. I will take responsibility for removing the pain of ailing persons.

6. I will participate in the mission of realizing the economic strength of India by combining it with an education with value system and by transforming religion into a spiritual force.

7. I will not support any differentiation on account of community or language.

8. I will lead an honest life free from all corruption and will set an example for others to adopt a transparent way of life.

9. I will always be a friend of the mentally and physically challenged and I will work hard to make them feel normal.

10. I will celebrate the success of my country and my people.



1. Sir, if for one minute you were to take off the President?s cap and think as a common citizen of India due you think that the amount of money spent by India on nuclear and atomic resources is justified, considering the common man?s plight today? - Abhinav Katoch, Class-10 Mount Carmel School, Palampur

Ans: The defence and development have to go together. When many of our neighbours are in the possession of nuclear weapons, we cannot be keeping quite. However, we have a doctrine of ?No First Use?. Also we are spending less than 3% of our GDP towards our defence. This is relatively very low compared to the expenditure made by many countries.

2. How can we develop critical observation power to become a great scientist? Shashank, DAV Public School

Ans: Children have to be inquisitive and ask the question why and how. You should not be satisfied unless you understand clearly. If you constantly do this in your day to day activities you will definitely become a great scientist.

3. How can science and technology wipe out poverty and make India a power nation?

-Shammi Dhiman, Govt Sr Sec School Chachian

Our first green revolution made the country self sufficient in food through scientific application. Similarly, the space programme is able to reach the message to the villagers through our satellite. It can predict monsoon and also give data on land resources. ICT provides communication to any part of the country. All these put together, has to be applied for removing poverty of the nation.

4. Sir, scientists, doctors and engineers are migrating to other countries for better prospects? What steps you suggest to stop the brain drain in India? - Anuba Pandit, SD Chand Sr Sec School Ghuggar

Our universities generate 3 million graduates every year and the engineers doctors and scientists are over 4 lakhs. Among this four lakhs professionals if a few migrate, we are not going to be in difficulty. In a way their connectivity both family and the institution can enrich our knowledge base.

5. As a member of a middle class family, how did you overcome so many obstacles and hardships and remained firmly determined? - Neeraj Sharma, Crescent Public Sr Sec School

Problems are there for every one. We have to overcome by sheer determination. Problem should not become our masters. We should become the master of the situation and succeed.

6. It is said that Nuclear weapons is a security shield. Can?t we say that Gandhi and Nehru?s panchsheel can be our security shield and we can find solutions to our problems? -Nirmala Devi, Govt Senior Sec School

That was alright during our freedom struggle. Now we have to protect our hard earned freedom in an environment of many of our neighbours possessing nuclear weapons. We have to be strong and protect ourselves. There is no short cut to our defence.

7. How a man can attain success in life and become great? - Nutan Rana, Govt Senior Sec. School, Pathiar

I have already answered this question today.

8. What a person should do after facing big failures, as you faced like premature death of hovercraft and earlier failures of rocket systems? - Tanuja Thakur, Bharatiya Vidya Peeth High Scl

You should not get disheartened by failures. In fact you learn many things through failures which you cannot learn from successes. Continue work you will succeed.

9. How will you differentiate the working of a person as a scientist in a laboratory and now in President?s office.? - Abhinav Acharya, Bhinwa Public High School, Baijnath

Even now I have a Ph.d Student working with me. We are working together to find a solution to the problem of mentally challenged children.

10. What could be our best role to make India most powerful nation in the world? - Anurag Sharma, Govt Senior Sec School, Prour

Work hard and excel in your chosen field.




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