I was in class 6 when I first got to attend a lecture by the President of the People in Delhi. Here are some lessons that I learnt and have carried with me since then. Also, I couldn’t risk forgetting them and scribbled them in my diary, so they’re literally ‘with me’, wherever I go.
1. The importance of being punctual.
Dr. Kalam was supposed to be at the lecture by 10 am and that is exactly what he did. Before the event, I was under the notion that like other events where we have important people coming, this one too, shall start late. Not only did he surprise us with his punctuality but also made those of us sitting in the audience promise that we would not be the laid back citizens of India who never arrive on time for their appointments but expect other people to.
2. Practice what you preach.
Taking cue from his own example, Dr. Kalam explained that unless he himself is on time for every event he has to go to, he has not right to ask other people to be punctual either. And the same applies in every sphere.
3. Rise with technology, don’t drown in it.
A passionate engineer, he gave us plenty of examples about how technology has made lives of crippled people and senior citizens easier. He encouraged us to use and develop technology as a tool to grow and make life more fruitful, also telling us that we must not let it take over our lives at the expense of environment and family.
4. Hard work always pays.
Dr. Kalam told us about his rise. It was difficult, he explained, maybe even impossible to think that a little, poor boy from an estranged village shall one day achieve so much. He didn’t give it much thought. Instead he spent the time working towards his goal. He used to distribute newspapers after the school hours to contribute to his father’s income.
5. No work is high or low.
An honourable man, Dr. Kalam was always known for his generosity, respect for all people and his integrity towards his country. He started off by selling newspapers and was never ashamed of his humble beginnings. He was instead very proud of his past and used it to set an example for countless other young children like him.
6. The need to inspire others.
Very patiently, Dr. Kalam explained to the auditorium bursting with youthful energy how essential it was for all of us to inspire our peers every day. He said he was on that stage because he didn’t have much time, but he had a lot of inspiration to send out. His magical words did the job just fine, every student left that hall filled with a zest to achieve something.
7. Perseverance is everything.
It is hard to fail and keep going. A man who had risen against countless odds and overcome them all successfully, Dr. Kalam knew this trick works well and that’s precisely what he told us- No matter how many times you fail, it will all cease to matter for eventually, one single time shall come, wherein we shall succeed.
8. Share what you learn.
If we don’t share what we learn, the knowledge dies with us. Dr. Kalam told us that his favourite hobby was sharing with the world everything he learnt. There is so much to learn that one person can never know everything and that’s why sharing is so important, to make sure no knowledge is ever lost from mankind altogether.
9. We are the future.
As he neared his lecture, Dr. Kalam did something wonderful to us that day, at least to me. He left us with words that shook me and moved me along with a lot of my fellow students to silent tears. He told us that we are the youth, the future of this country. How people see this nation shall depend on what we do for it in the following years as we grow and once we’re grown. The responsibility of doing the right things and making the next generation respectful citizens of the world is up to us. In a way, he made each and every one us feel like the reins of India were in our hands. He instilled in us a wish, a desire, a patriotism that made us want to do something for our country and for that, I, like hundreds of children across the country, shall always be grateful.
While it is true that a President like Dr. Kalam might never come again, it might be very befitting to hope that the next one is just as inspired by him as the rest of the young people of our country.
That day, when he left, he chided a child for talking just like any parent would and asked us to e-mail him. Assured us that he personally answered all his e-mails with the help of his secretary of course. He laughed with us and left us with an important message- it is important to inspire one another. It’s only right that he should bid farewell doing two things he loved most, inspiring others and sharing with them what he had learnt in all these years that he’s been a role model citizen for every Indian.
May your soul rest in peace Dr. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam. True, they do not make men like you anymore, however, we shall follow in your footsteps as best as we can, forgive us, if we falter every once in a while.