‘When a problem arises, become the captain of the problem and defeat it!’


LIGHT HAD GONE OUT WHEN MAHATMA GANDHI LEFT BUT INDIA’S HEART AND SOUL LEFT WITH Dr APJ ABDUL KALAM.

A HUMBLE TRIBUTE TO THE GREAT SOUL ON BEHALF OF 130 CRORE INDIANS and MILLIONS LIVING ABROAD
MAN OF VISION & MISSION TO MAKE INDIA SUPER POWER BY 2020 IT IS THE DUTY OF ALL OF US TO FULFILL HIS DREAM . THAT WILL BE THE TRUE HOMAGE WE PAY TO HIM. REGARDS HARIHARAN KRISHNAMURTHY

‘When a problem arises, become the captain of the problem and defeat it!’

APJ Abdul KalamLast updated on: November 06, 2014 21:23 IST

Once, during his Presidency, President A P J Abdul Kalam received a letter from a student shocked with his class 12th mark-sheet.

He had secured 10 per cent in Maths and Physics, whereas throughout his school career, he had always scored 90 per cent and above.

In utter dismay, he wrote to the President of India, asking for his help.

President Kalam referred his case to the authorities and two weeks later got a reply that indeed there was a mistake in the evaluation and a rectification had been done.

In the last 15 years, President Kalam — arguably India’s most popular President and among the founders of the country’s space programme — has interacted with 18 million young Indians, face-to-face, through e-mail and over Facebook.

He receives 300 e-mails everyday.

Some of these letters have been turned into his latest book Forge Your Future, which provides an insight into the issues which concern and engage the minds of young Indians today. President Kalam’s replies are based on his personal experiences, his reading and his interactions with political and spiritual leaders.

The title of the book was selected after an online public vote.

In his quiet bungalow in Lutyens’ Delhi, President Kalam speaks to Archana Masih/Rediff.com about India becoming a developed country by 2020-2022, the heroes he admires, how 90 per cent of India’s space programme is intended for the people and the individual’s potential to become unique.

Photographs: Rajesh Karkera/Rediff.com

Dr Kalam, please can you tell me a little about your daily schedule? What’s it like?

The garden here has a 107-year old tree. Edwin Lutyens himself built and stayed in this house — so he maybe somewhere here (laughs).

His relatives had come to see this building.

The 107-year-old tree is beautiful. Parrots and various other birds live at the top and at the bottom live peacocks. Every year there are baby peacocks. I have a very bioactive tree.

I walk for 1 hour and 15 minutes every day. I spend time in my library.

In a month, I spend 15 days travelling in India. For ten days in a year, I go abroad. I am an honorary professor at the University of Beijing.

Every month, I meet a minimum of 100,000 young people. A million people in a year. So far I have met 18 million young people below the age of 25 in my country.

You get 300 e-mails everyday and spend two hours answering them. When did this process begin? When did you start actively engaging with young people?

It all started when I wrote Wings of Fire, in which I conveyed my life, how I had lived it, how I got myself educated, how I started meeting youth…

I was also teaching at Anna University at that time. After my work as scientific advisor, then projector director SLV 3, programme director AGNI — after all that I went in 2001 to Anna University as a professor.

I also get some handwritten letters. I consider them very important and I love to reply to them because they come from people from the grassroots who do not have access to the Internet. They come with unique questions and I have to give unique answers.

APJ Abdul Kalam

You mention what President Mandela told you about courage in your book — who are some of the most inspiring world leaders you have met?

Two world leaders exclusively come to my mind — Mahatma Gandhi and his unique life. Similarly, Nelson Mandela. I went to the prison where Mandela lived.

Where there is righteousness in the heart, there is beauty in the character. That’s the example of Mahatma Gandhi throughout his life.

In 2006, I travelled in the same kind of train with a steam engine from Durban to Pietermaritzburg. I could imagine the courage which Gandhiji showed in that cold winter.

Ahimsa dharma came after the battle of Kalinga. It transformed King Ashoka. The second time ahimsa dharma was put into action was by Mahatma Gandhi at Pietermaritzburg.

This book gives three messages. First: You can become a unique personality. Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela were unique.

The other important thing about this book is about continuously acquiring knowledge. Thirdly, when the problem arises — become the captain of the problem and defeat it.

You envisioned a growth plan for India called Vision 2020. How close are we to achieving that vision, in view of that deadline being six years away?

Actually India 2020 is a vision for an economically developed India by 2020. Up to 2008 our GDP was 8 to 9 per cent. Then there was a problem across the Atlantic Ocean, and our GDP crashed to 6 to 7 per cent, then to 5.5 and then to 5 per cent.

So in the 2008-2014 period, we had a slack in our development programme.

Six years is a long period in a nation like India with 600 million youth, nowhere in the democratic world there exists this strength.

We also have a natural way of life. Our agriculture is doing well. We have 250 to 260 million tons of food. Our IT, small scale and pharma industries are doing very well.

Of course, we have to do lots in the development of the rural area. We have 600,000 villages where 700 million people live. We have to Provide Urban Amenities to Rural Areas (PURA). Seven thousand PURAS are needed to lift 600,000 villages.

Even now it is not too late. Fortunately, I understand the present government is taking a priority for PURAS. If they push it along with small scale industry and smart waterways, then definitely 2020 — plus or minus 2 years — we can get there.

So you are confident by 2022, that we may be able to do it?

We can do it, provided we have a national vision.

Do we have that national vision?

From 1930 to 1947, we wanted Freedom. Our caste system vanished, our religions vanished, our differences vanished and we were fighting only for Independence. I call that the first mission that India had.

The second vision: Economic development. If you work like that and declare that mission in Parliament and people and government work for it, irrespective of whichever party they belong to, it is possible. Because our resources are youth power and our natural resources.

The Book Cover

Image: President Kalam’s latest book Forge Your Future

In your book, you say ‘The orientation must turn from the past to the future and focus on how India can become a developed nation. The real issue is that we are not to see ourselves as a nation and because of that there is no national vision.’

Why do you think we have not been able to see ourselves as a nation?

When we see the types of conflicts all around — religious conflict, caste system, language problems — any big nation will have such types of problems but the nation can be united for a big cause.

Independence was a big cause that united us. That’s why I am pushing this idea that the tool for India Vision 2020 is Providing Urban Amenities to Rural Areas. This way we can enhance village development. I have talked about all this in my book.

COURTESY REDIFFMAIL

परोपकाराय फलन्ति वृक्षा: परोपकाराय वहन्ति नद्यः।

परोपकाराय दुहन्ति गावः परोपकाराय इदं शरीरम्।



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” When people hurt you Over and Over think of them as Sand paper.
They Scratch & hurt you, but in the end you are polished and they are finished. ”
"Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great ones make you feel that you too, can become great."- Mark Twain.
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