Excerpts from the book ‘Ignited Minds‘ Written By A.P.J. Abdul Kalamji
However, when children ask me, ‘What has given you happiness in your life in the last forty years?’ I say I get happiness when heart patients carry KR coronary stent in their arteries and when the physically handicapped children fitted with the lightweight Floor Reaction Orthosis (FRO) callipers find their difficulties eased somewhat.
Both of these came as spin-offs from missile technologies.
During this stage, I held the position of Chairman of the Technology Information, Forecasting and Assessment Council (TIFAC) under the Department of Science and Technology, for nearly two tenures (about eight years).
This period saw the creation of Technology Vision 2020 based on the work of task teams consisting of 500 experts in all who had available to them inputs from 5,000 scientists and technologists from different fields. Later, the Technology Vision document and the national security aspects got integrated and the India Millennium Missions (IMM 2020) emerged.
When I took over as Principal Scientific Adviser to the Government of India, in November 1999, the task was to do detailing and evolve a working plan for IMM 2020.
It is indeed a roadmap for transforming India into a developed country–the Second Vision of the Nation.
Certain experimental work on education, agriculture and also development of a number of villages in an integrated way is currently progressing.
A Cabinet paper on the subject has been moved for approval of the government. During this third stage, it was building technological strength with institutional partnership, adapting technology to societal needs and formulating the vision for the Nation that occupied me.
The helicopter mishap of 30 September 2001 made me realize that the time to jettison the third stage had arrived. This thought was further reinforced on 2 October, the birthday of Mahatma Gandhi, when I visited Mata Amritanandamayi’s Ashram at Kollam in Kerala.
She emphasized the need to integrate spirituality with education to create a new generation of leaders and entrepreneurs.
On 12 October 2001, three days before I would complete my seventy orbits around the sun, I formally wrote to the Prime Minister about my decision to retire and requested to be relieved in a month’s time.
He relented this time and I prevailed.
Meanwhile I keep visiting schools.
During my visits to many states, particularly two of the north-eastern states, Assam and Tripura, and Jharkhand and also a few places in Tamil Nadu, I have addressed thousands of students, about 40,000 at last count.
I have found that I communicate well with this age group; I share their imagination.
Most important, through my interaction with them, I feel I can ignite in their minds a love for science, and through it, a sense of mission for achieving a developed India.
Will this be my fourth stage? Shall I be successful? I really don’t know.
But what I do know is that there is no greater power in heaven or on earth than the commitment to a dream.
Dreams hold something of that energy which lies at the heart of all things and are the binding force that brings the spiritual and the material together.
It had been in my mind for the past few years to undertake research and teaching. For this purpose, combined with my desire to find time to meet schoolchildren, I have shifted to Anna University–my alma mater.
What a great feeling it is to be among young people bubbling with creativity and enthusiasm! What a great responsibility the elders of this country have at hand to guide this tremendous energy in a constructive way for nation building!
How can we make up for missed opportunities and the failures of the past?
Spirituality must be integrated with education.
Self-realization is the focus. Each one of us must become aware of our higher self.
We are links of a great past to a grand future.
We should ignite our dormant inner energy and let it guide our lives.
The radiance of such minds embarked on constructive endeavour will bring peace, prosperity and bliss to this nation.