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Home > News > Report

Kalam wows students at Gandhigram University

A Ganesh Nadar in Dindigul | July 27, 2007 22:19 IST

Two days after he stepped down as President and a day after he went back to Chennai's Anna University, Dr APJ Abdul Kalam [Images] enthralled students of Gandhigram Rural University in Dindigul district of Tamil Nadu.

The huge hall was overflowing to capacity half an hour before Kalam's arrival. The last time Kalam was here, as President a year ago, he left a lasting impression on the students. Anupama, a student from Manipur, said at that time she wanted to ask him a question, but couldn't.

As things turned out, she was not successful today either.

Kalam's address -- during the course of which he touched upon his pet topics: PURA, developed India, youth -- began with devotional songs from all faiths, after which he led the students with his own prayer: 'God please make man think, research, value knowledge, and do such work that man becomes Godly.'

Kalam walked in to thunderous applause. And when he waved out to the students, as is his wont, is they went berserk with happiness, the decibel deafening. When he rose to speak after the prayers the noise again reached impossible levels. He asked if students in the last row could hear him, and only after they replied in the affirmative did he continue.

"You are here from all parts of the country," he said. "In Gandhigram University I always speak in my mother tongue. Those of you who do not know Tamil can read the speech tomorrow on my web site

"I am very happy to speak to you all today. I was born and brought up in Tamil Nadu. I was educated in Tamil Nadu. I worked outside for 50 years and now I am here with you again."

When he announced that he will teach in the university for one semester it was greeted with a thunderous applause.

Dr Kalam then recalled an incident from Mahatma Gandhi's [Images] life. He was nine years old at that time. His mother told him, 'Son, if you help remove the pain in one person's life then your life as a human being is a success'. "I want each one of you to follow this advice. God is happy with you when you help others remove their sorrow, their pain. We are here to fulfill Gandhiji's ideals," Kalam said.

Turning to his pet project, he said 70 per cent of India lives in rural areas. "We must do everything to strengthen the villages. Thus the country will become strong. To do this we need good roads in villages. We need capital to create jobs in rural areas. PURA is our watchword.

"PURA is providing urban amenities in rural areas. This means good roads, good infrastructure, education to provide knowledge which will all lead to economic betterment."

"This university and the Tamil Nadu government should find a way to do this," Kalam exhorted. "Drinking water should be clean. The village should be clean. I once spoke on this in Parliament. I am climbing, where is the peak? I am digging, where is the wisdom? I am deep in the ocean, where is the knowledge?"

"We must keep on learning. We must have a good goal. Every individual should work towards that goal. We will grow to achieve, our action will take us further in this quest. Work together in unity to forge ahead. We must do this in the next five years. All of you must do this," he said.

"We will be a developed country in 2020," Kalam urged the gathering, and like a good teacher he made the students repeat everything he said. And they responded with enthusiasm.

"We must reduce the gap between the city and the village. There must be clean water and everything needed must be available to everyone. We must be forward in culture, education and economically."

After every bit of advice he would ask, 'Will you do it?' and the students would reply 'YES.'

"We must be responsible. We must educate five illiterates, plant and nurture five trees, change five addicts from smoking, drugs, gambling and every other vice. We must abolish poverty at all costs. We must become a strong, safe, peaceful, healthy and knowledgeable country.

"We must lead the way. India has 54 crore youth under 25 years of age. They are our biggest asset and property. We must never discriminate because of caste, religion, language or colour. We must be the same to all. We must love our mother and our country. We must respect women."

Only two students were allowed to ask questions, and he carried the questions asked by the others with him, assuring them that he will post the answer on his web site in two days.

He said to eradicate corruption one should start at home. "If you think your parents are corrupt tell them to stop."

Then he asked the parents whether they will listen to their children on this. The parents said, "Our children will make us feel very small when they tell us this. Because we love them we will listen to them."

He left the auditorium to another round of thunderous applause. Half an hour later the next meeting on PURA began.