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Address and interaction with the students of Kendriya Vidyalaya and other schools
Silchar , May 11 2013
Updated on May 13 2013
Published bywww.abdulkalam.com
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Mission of Life

"When I wish upon a star,
Makes no difference who I am.
Anything my heart desires
Will come to me"

Friends, I am delighted to be with the students from Kendriya Vidyalaya NIT Silchar and other schools of Silchar. My greetings to Principal, Teachers and the students, parents and special invitees. When I see this young and curious gathering, I would like to talk on the topic Mission in life. Let me begin with sharing a few experiences.

My Rameswaram School

When I see you all, I thought of recalling my school days in British India in Rameswaram Panchayat Primary School during the period 1936-1944. This school is situated near the seashore, half built and half thatched and it was the only school in Rameswaram Island in those days. We were 400 boys and girls. I would like to narrate my experience, what I felt in my school, which had an unimpressive building and scanty amenities. But, I used to see an interesting scene in the school. The teachers, particularly the History & Geography and science teachers were loved by the students, for the reason, the teacher loved their teaching and ensured the growth of every one of the 55 students in my class. My History & Geography teacher Shri Kaliswara Iyer used to say, "O my students, my teaching mission is to ensure that you children love History & Geography, so that you score good marks apart from learning with pleasure." Whereas, my science teacher Shri Sivasubramania Iyer was a big attraction to all the students in the class. When the science teacher entered in the class in the morning, we saw in him the light of knowledge radiating. We saw the light of purity shining, in our teachers.

We were 55 students in the 8th class. Even if one student was absent for a day, our teachers will go to the parents and enquire about the student's welfare and the reason for his not coming to the school. If a student gets high marks, teacher will be the first person to go to our home and share the information with our parents. My school was a happy school. All the 55 students of our class went through and completed 8th class. I don't remember any a single drop out. The message I would like to give this audience is, it is not the great building or a great facility or great advertisements gives quality, but loveable education and great teachers do. Education cannot be a business product or system. Education at the primary level has to be delivered in an integrated way by great teachers through good syllabus and promoting affinity between the parents, students and the teachers.

Recent experience at Paravur village near Kochi

Last year, I was in a village called Paravur near Kochi in the state of Kerala. I went to the village to inaugurate the programme Sasthrayaan - which means 'science propagation'. During the programme, the President of Paravur Panchayat Board and the local MLA said, that the mission of Sasthrayaan in Paravur is to ensure preparation of 2000 students from different schools towards attaining eligibility for entrance as engineers, scientists, doctors, qualified managers, and Civil services officers. This action will empower 2000 families of the village. My inaugural address to Paravur audience consisting of 5000 students and family members was "Science Empowers the Nation".

After my address, there were 100s of hands put-up for asking questions. Due to limited availability of time, I selected 12 students in random, from last row to first row, to ask questions. I would like to share with you two questions of concern asked by the students. One 10th class girl asked me, "Sir, next year I have to take a subject for my specialization. I love psychology, but my parents say, no to this subject. They want me to take the subject that will enable me to enter a professional course." What should be my answer? I thought of it, I told the student, "you have a great tool to win your parents, that is love and affection. Similarly, your parents also love you. They earn and sometimes they borrow for your education and they would like to ensure that you are properly positioned in your professional life. But I respect your dream and definitely I am confident, you can persuade your parents. If any help is needed, I can talk to your parents too." At that time, fortunately, in the parent?s enclosure, the parents of the girl were also present. They got up and said, "we are the parents of the girl who daringly asked the question. We love our child. Definitely, we will go ahead with fulfilling her wish to take up Psychology as her subject." The whole audience cheered the parents and the young girl.

The next important question was from a 8th class boy called Vishnu who had come from a far away village environment away from the city. He was nervous and represented the youth in Indian village environment. The boy started with telling his name, "my name is Vishnu. I don?t know what should I ask? I am nervous. I have not asked any question in my class. I need to have confidence, I am not gaining confidence through education during the last 7 years. I am afraid to talk to my teachers, I am afraid to talk to my friends. Whenever I talk, I compare myself with other students and their elegant dress. Please tell me Sir, how I can become a unique person, which you just now explained. I want to become a marine engineer. I want to travel in the ship. I want to be the captain of the ship. I want to build the engine for the ship. Will I be able to do all this, Sir? How can I achieve this mission? What I should do?' When the boy completed the question, the whole audience of 5000 people and dignitaries in the dais, including the CM, were looking at me, what Kalam is going to say for such a sincere question of a young boy from a village. I thought of it, and thought of it, I wanted to break the silence. I said, "my dear Vishnu, you have put the most difficult question, among many questions that I have received from millions and millions of students whom I have met. Vishnu, I value your question, also I consider you are echoing the fear of millions of rural students. Let me recite a beautiful ancient poem named "I will fly".

I slowly started telling the poem, which goes like this :

I will fly
"I am born with potential.
I am born with goodness and trust.
I am born with ideas and dreams.
I am born with greatness.
I am born with confidence.
I am born with wings.
So, I am not meant for crawling,
I have wings, I will fly
I will fly and fly"

The boy also started repeating the poem along with me. When Vishnu finished reciting the poem, he was in tears. He said, "I have gained confidence, I will win, I will win and win" and ran off.

These two questions from students reveal that students are in stress in the choice of their subjects after 10+1 and 10+2 and education is not giving the students the confidence that "I can do it". I am sure, the teachers of this region will certainly fill this gap and ensure that the students acquire the confidence to face life and express their problems to the teachers and elder members of the family.
Dear young friends, now let me present you, how a great scientist and a great mathematician built their dreams and achievements.

Inspire the young minds

In Albert Einstein life, we find that his interest in science started early, beginning with his encounter at the age of nine with magnetism, which he called "the first miracle". His father gave him a compass and Einstein was fascinated endlessly by the fact that invisible forces could make object move. This experience made a lasting impression on him. His interest in compasses was reinforced when he found a caring mentor to hone his ideas. At the age of 12, he experienced second wonder in a little book given by his mentor Max Talmud with Euclidean plain Geometry, which he called "Holy Geometry Book". Einstein called this his "second miracle". Here Einstein made contact with the realm of pure thought. Without expensive laboratories or equipment, he could explore universal truth, limited only by the power of human mind. Mathematics became an endless source of pleasure to Einstein especially if intriguing puzzle and mysteries were involved.

A genius well ahead of time: Failure did not deter him

Ramanujan, born and raised in Erode, Tamil Nadu, first encountered formal mathematics at the age of ten. He demonstrated a natural ability at mathematics, and was given books on advanced trigonometry by S. L. Loney. He mastered this book by age thirteen, and even discovered theorems of his own. He demonstrated unusual mathematical skills at school, winning many awards. By the age of seventeen, Ramanujan was conducting his own mathematical research on Bernoulli numbers and the Euler?Mascheroni constant. He received a scholarship to study at Government College in Kumbakonam. He failed his non-mathematical coursework, and lost his scholarship. Srinivasa Ramanujan lived only for 33 years and did not have formal higher education or means of living. Yet, his inexhaustible spirit and love for his subject made him contribute to the treasure houses of mathematical research, particularly in number theory - some of which are still under serious study and engaging all-available world mathematicians? efforts to establish formal proofs. Ramanujan was a unique Indian genius who could melt the heart of the most hardened and outstanding Cambridge mathematician Prof GH Hardy. In fact, it is not an exaggeration to say that it was Prof. Hardy who discovered Ramanujan for the world. Professor Hardy rated various geniuses on a scale of 100. While most of the mathematicians got a rating of around 30 with rare exceptions reaching to 60, Ramanujan got a rating of 100. There cannot be any better tribute to either Ramanujan or to Indian heritage. His works cover vast areas including Prime Numbers, Hyper geometric Series, Modular Functions, Elliptic Functions, Mock Theta Functions, even magic squares, apart from serious side works on geometry of ellipses, squaring the circle etc. One of the tributes to Ramanujan says that, 'every Integer is a personal friend of Ramanujan'. He was elected a Fellow of The Royal Society (F R S) in 1918.

Ramanujan used to say "An equation means nothing to me unless it expresses a thought of God". For him the understanding of numbers was a process of spiritual revelation and connection. In his investigations into pure mathematics, he drew extraordinary conclusions that mystified his colleagues, but were usually proven, eventually, to be right. He opened a universe of theory that still today is reaping applications. The landscape of the infinite was to Ramanujan a reality of both mathematics and spirit. His love for numbers led Ramanujan to number theory. Despite being affected by chronic health problems, he was breathing Mathematics throughout his short life and his genius was recognized internationally.

Indomitable Spirit

Dear young friends, knowledge will empower you to undertake great missions. While entering into such type of mission in life, you need unique traits for achieving success in your missions, which will require extra ordinary courage and the ability to dream big which will help overcome all obstacles. I would like to give an example of a visually challenged young boy, who was not deterred by his physical challenge.

Friends, when I was the President of India, on 28 Aug 2006, I met the group of tribal students from Lead India 2020 movement. I asked all of them one question: "What you want to become?" Out of many responses, one visually challenged boy studying IX class got up. His name is Srikanth, he answered me "I will become visually Challenged first President of India". I was very happy to see his vision and ambition. Small aim is a crime. Hence, I congratulated him to realize his vision and told him to work for realizing the vision.

There after he worked hard got 90% in Xth class and 96 % in intermediate and he set a goal to study Engineering in MIT, Boston USA. His relentless hard work not only secured seat but he got full fee waiver from MIT, Boston. Srikanth?s achievement has brought changes in many change agents of Lead India 2020 and inspired to set high vision. The training he took under the initiative of Lead India 2020 has set a high vision for him. Seeing this impact of Lead India 2020 training, Lead India 2020 movement and GE volunteers have funded Mr. Srikanth for his travel to USA. Today he is pursuing his studies at MIT, Boston. When the GE offered him a job on his completion of graduation, he told them that he would certainly come back to GE, if I couldn?t become the President of India. What a confidence that boy has amidst of difficulty and the challenges in his life by being visually challenged. What a great transformation that has brought into a visually challenged boy's life through value based education intervention.
Friends, since I am in the midst of the youth, I would like you present my visualization of what type of India you would be in, after your educational endeavors.

Distinctive profile of the nation

1. A Nation where the rural and urban divide has reduced to a thin line.
2. A Nation where there is an equitable distribution and adequate access to energy and quality water.
3. A Nation where agriculture, industry and service sector work together in symphony.
4. A Nation where education with value system is not denied to any meritorious candidates because of societal or economic discrimination.
5. A Nation which is the best destination for the most talented scholars, scientists, and investors.
6. A Nation where the best of health care is available to all.
7. A Nation where the governance is responsive, transparent and corruption free.
8. A Nation where poverty has been totally eradicated, illiteracy removed and crimes against women and children are absent and none in the society feels alienated.
9. A Nation that is prosperous, healthy, secure, devoid of terrorism, peaceful and happy and continues with a sustainable growth path.
10. A Nation that is one of the best places to live in and is proud of its leadership.

Integrated Action for developed India

To achieve the distinctive profile of India, we have the mission of transforming India into a developed nation. We have identified five areas where India has a core competence for integrated action: (1) Agriculture and food processing (2) Education and Healthcare (3) Information and Communication Technology (4) Infrastructure: Reliable and Quality Electric power, Surface transport and Infrastructure for all parts of the country and (5) Self reliance in critical technologies. These five areas are closely inter-related and progressing in a coordinated way, leading to food, economic and national security.

Clean environment

Dear friends, would you like to review the process of photo-synthesis in the plants and trees. "When the sun shines, the green plants breakdown water to get electrons and protons, use these particles to turn carbon-di-oxide into glucose and vent out oxygen as a waste product." Each mature tree in a year absorbs 20 Kgs of carbon-di-oxide and transforms into wood and reinforces the branches of the tree, and releases 14 kg of Oxygen. To facilitate this, I would suggest all the students in this gathering to plant at-least 5 trees and nurture them.

Let not thy winged days, be spent in vain

As you all know, the earth rotates on its own axis once in a day having 24 hours or 1440 minutes or 86400 seconds. Earth itself orbits around the sun. It takes nearly one year for an orbit. With the completion of one rotation of earth around the sun, your age is added by one year as you are living on planet earth. Seconds fly, minutes fly, hours fly, days fly and years fly. We have no control over it. The only thing that we can do is, while the time flies, we can navigate the time. "Let not thy winged days, be spent in vain".

Characteristics of great teachers

For enabling empowerment of the students, what is needed is the teacher has to love teaching. The teacher should realize that he has to ignite the minds of the youth which is most powerful resource on the earth, above the earth and under the earth. The teacher becomes a great teacher only when he or she is able to lift the average student to excellent performance by the way of special teaching techniques. The conduct of the teacher inside and outside of the school should become a great message to the student in shaping their career. The teacher has to fill his or her mind with great thoughts and spread the nobility in thinking and action. I am sure, all the teachers of Silchar region will be having these characteristics which will transform the youth of this school to become enlightened citizens.

Conclusion: What I will be remembered for?

Finally, I would like to ask you, what would you like to be remembered for? You have to evolve yourself and shape your life. You should write it on a page. That page may be a very important page in the book of human history. And you will be remembered for creating that one page in the history of the nation - whether that page is the page of invention, the page of innovation or the page of discovery or the page of creating societal change or a page of removing the poverty or the page of fighting injustice or planning and executing energy independence mission.
Once again, let me greet all the students of Kendriya Vidyalaya and other schools of Silchar.

My greetings and best wishes to all of you success in your educational mission.

May God Bless you.

Oath for the Youth

1.&nsbp; I will have a goal and work hard to achieve that goal. I realize that small aim is a crime.
2.&nsbp; I will work with integrity and succeed with integrity.
3.&nsbp; I will be a good member of my family, a good member of the society, a good member of the nation and a good member of the world.
4.&nsbp; I will always try to save or better someone's life, without any discrimination of caste, creed, language religion or state. Wherever I am, a thought will always come to my mind. That is "What can I give?"
5.&nsbp; I will always protect and enhance the dignity of every human life without any bias.
6.&nsbp; I will always remember the importance of time. My motto will be "Let not my winged days, be spent in vain".
7.&nsbp; I will always work for clean home, clean planet Earth and clean energy.
8.&nsbp; As a youth of my nation, I will work and work with courage to achieve success in all my tasks and enjoy the success of others.
9.&nsbp; I am as young as my faith and as old as my doubt. Hence, I will light up then, the lamp of faith in my heart.
10.&nsbp;My National Flag flies in my heart and I will bring glory to my nation.

By, Dr. APJ Abdulkalam

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2   Shiv shankar prasadPosted OnMay 19 2013 07:44:28
Dear sir, your are the idol for me and many people.I always go to your message whenever feel low and any doubt. I would like to ask the solution for one question from you.Since India is a country of villages, there are many students who study in hindi medium like me from rural areas,they feel very difficulty when they go for higher studies. What will be the solution for them, should they start study in english medium from starting of their childhood or can we have our higher education in our own languages like in other non english speaking countries like japan, Germany, China, Spain, French etc. Please reply to this sir as it will help to our many rural students to achieve their goal and to build our nation great.

1   Meghali Boriah SokhiPosted OnMay 13 2013 21:06:25
Our lives have been enriched by the wonderful thoughts that you have shared with us.We'll always cherish those moments forever in our hearts.My students are also greatly inspired by your simplicity and cheerful attitude.Every single word spoken by are like dparkling jewels in our unornamemted lives.Thank you once again for visiting us.

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