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Jamia students ask APJ Abdul Kalam

Tuesday, July 28, 2009 04:47:40 PM

Former Indian President APJ Abdul Kalam addressing the Jamia students

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New Delhi: Former President of India Dr. A P J Abul Kalam on Monday visited Jamia Millia Islamia for an interaction with school students. In his inimitable style Dr. Kalam addressed the students, igniting their minds with a range of issues and problems facing contemporary society, interspersing his speech with oaths that he made the audience repeat after him in a collective voice making the auditorium resound with optimism and positive energy.


Jamia has several feeder schools – the Mushir Fatima Nursery (pre-nursery), Jamia Middle School (Urdu-medium), Jamia Senior Secondary School, Self-Financing Evening Shift (English-medium), Urdu-Medium School for Girls, Child Guidance Centre (for children with special needs), school offering condensed courses under the Zakir Husain Educational Society.


Expressing pleasure that there were a large number of girls in the audience and more girls than boy asking questions, he said young people must have an aim in life. ‘If you want to be an engineer, that is good. But you must want to be the best engineer.’


Encouraging children to read, to use the internet and other sources of knowledge, he urged them to gain from the light of many lives, and to work hard. ‘Sweat, sweat, sweat!’ that should be the only maxim for young people. President Kalam addressed over 500 students and faculty from 12.30 to 1.30 pm in the Ansari Auditorium.


Dr Kalam also took a range of questions from the audience; his only stipulation was that the question be from students and not faculty. The first question was: ’Which role do you prefer – that of President or Scientist?’ The former President of India answered promptly: ’Teacher.’


After that there was a volley of questions: ‘You are a peaceful man, Mr President; why, then, did you design a nuclear bomb? How do you justify the nuclear programme for a country like India ?’. Prompt came the reply from the Ex-Prez: ‘I advocate total nuclear disarmament.’


‘What are your views on Global Warming?’ (Answer: ‘Science is innocent; it is man who is the culprit.’) ‘Is human cloning ethical?’ (Answer: ‘I am against it because human beings are the result of genetic engineering carried on for over a million years. Partial cloning is acceptable, such as cloning of eye, ear or liver.’) ‘Will the earth exist after 2050?’ (Answer: ‘Yes, the earth will survive for another 5 billion years. So no fear!’) ‘Has being a member of the minority ever been a hindrance?’ (By way of answer the former President recited a poem: ‘When you wish upon a star, it makes no difference who you are. You will get what your heart desires.’) ‘Which modern weapon attracts you the most?’ (Answer: ‘Love for fellow human beings.’)


In response to a question from a child with speech and sight disability, regarding what can be the contribution to society of children with special needs, Dr Kalam answered that such children can contribute the same as others; what they need is Confidence.


The former President interspersed his answers with questions of his own, such as what is the student studying, which class, favorite subjects, what they want to be when they grow up, etc. The most illuminating question came in the end when a girl asked how we can make our society free of corruption. The President said that there are approx 200 billion people. Each household usually has 5 members – a father, mother, and three children. That makes 200 million households. If even one person in these 200 million households stands up and tells the others to stop the corruption, we can stem the tide. He said there should be a Children’s Movement Against Corruption. The interaction ended with the former President making the children take an oath that they would stand up – if need be against their own parents – to ensure they have a corruption-free household.


After the formal interaction, the President posed for group photographs and signed autographs. (







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