Dream Come True: An Evening with Dr. Abdul Kalam
Written By: Yog Rahi Gupta
It is that time of the year when an old year just faded and a new year just rised. It is also that time when we need to reflect on the year that had passed. Was it filled with hopes and dreams that came true or was it filled with disappointments, sadness, tragedies, failures and financial losses? While some of us lack perseverance, some of us pick up the pieces and carry on. It was a longtime dream of mine to meet the former President of India Dr. Abdul Kalam. On my recent trip to India this dream had come true.
The former president of India Dr.Abdul Kalam is popularly known as the Missile Man of India. This is because of his contributions to the development of “Agni” and “Prithvi’s” strategic ballistic missiles. He was also a major force behind the country’s Pokharan 11 nuclear tests. Dr. Kalam said that every nation has to follow a certain policy for things like commercial trades. The phenomenon of Globalization is expanding which unlists the development of two types of nations. One category holds the developed nations and the category consists of developing nations. Developed nations produce and market products in their own country and throughout the world. Developing nations strive to become a developed nation so they have to produce products and competitively market them globally. The commonality between these two categories is competition. Factors that influence competition are cost and quality.
Mr. Kalam, you have been called the “Missile man of India” and the “People’s President”. Is there an incongruity between your desire to empower the world with peace and making India a nuclear power? In reply he said, “I am innocent to the whole affair. I did not call myself these names (laughs). When a nation is surrounded by nations with weapons we just need to prepare ourselves as well. That’s what India has done to make the nation peaceful and prosperous. We need minimum security.” Sharing his vision for 2020 and beyond which are also titles of his two books-“Vision 2020 and beyond 2020” Kalam said that there are five key areas the country needs to focus upon. They are Education, Infrastructure, Entrepreneurship, Health and Sustainable Development. We need to transform our education system too. “My suggestion is that 30 percent of the syllabus in class 9-12 should be reduced and skill based courses should be introduced in the school systems. When a child passes grade 12, they have two creditentials instead of one. Similarly in colleges, there should be a concept of degree plus diploma in the same fashion. We need more employment generators and not employment seekers. Our IT sector is doing well.
Dr. Kalam always talks to the young generation and get them to vow to make India and world a better place to live. “When there is righteousness in there heart, there is beauty in character…when there is beauty in character, there is already a home…when there is a home, there is order in the nation which is peace in the world”. Take a vow that whatever you do in life, you will always think what I can give. All the trouble starts when we think what I can get, those are roots of corruption. Dr. Kalam also shared mantra for a healthy and long life is “proper exercise, eating meals at proper hours and keeping our mind engaged. Literature also influenced him deeply. Some of Dr. Kalam’s favorite books are, Lights of Lamps by Lillian Eichler Watson, and Empire of Mind written by Michael Strangelove. He mentioned a book called Thirukkul that was written 2200 years ago. He quoted a couplet from the book:
“If your thoughts are high, definitely you are going to work for your aim, definitely you will succeed. But conversely, if you don’t have an aim, don’t have high thoughts, how can you aim at success?”
These three books have made my life, Kalam said that he firmly believes that nation has to be bigger than the individual and individual has to work for the nation. If you are working for yourself, you will not be transparent. Once you put the nation above you, you become transparent. I find Dr .Kalam a true inspirational leader, renowned for his simple almost austere lifestyle.
My journalistic career has given me tons of opportunities to meet and interview great people from all walks of life that include people like Dr. Karan Singh, the health minister, Shree Shree Ravi Shanker, Shridath Ramphal ,Common Wealth Secretary(New Delhi 1975)’Kurt Waldheim, Secretary General United Nations (Feb 1973 in New Delhi) The ‘D.P.Dhar, a prominent Kashmiri politician and Indian Diplomat who played significant role in Shimla agreement between India and Pakistan, T.N. Kaul, India’s foreign Secretary from 1967 to 1972. The Prime minister Indira Gandhi, in 1974, the Kashmiri politician and Chief Minister Sheikh Abdullah, L.K. Jha, Reserve Bank of India Governor and later on Governor of Jammu Kashmir, Inder Kumar Gujral, Indira’s Information Minister and later on Prime Minister of India for a brief period.
I even had the opportunity to meet and interview several play back singers like Mohammed Rafi, Mukesh, Kishore Kumar, Lata, Asha, Suman Kalyanpur,Talat Mehmood,Jagjit Singh, Mahesh Chander, Jagmohan, Sonu Nigam, Pakistani noted singers Mahendi Hassan,Ghulam Ali,Naseebo Lal, Reshma, Habib Wali Mohd, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Rahat Fatey Ali Khan, famous Qwali singers from Indo-Pakistan ,Mian Aziz, Shanker Shambhu, Habib Painter and Shaikila Banu Bhopali.
My longtime dream of meeting Dr.Abdul Kalam came true this time during my visit to India. .I find Dr.Kalam very patriotic and a true son of India. He is a role model in our modern society as a leader where people can look up to for advice.
Yog Rahi Gupta is a free Lance Writer based in Winnipeg. He is also a host of Voice of India Radio Program every Sunday @ Radio CKJS-810 from 5 to 6 PM.