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Jaipur Literature Festival 2015: Former President APJ Abdul Kalam draws the largest crowd; shares life story, fitness tips, email address with fans

Prajakta Hebbar | http://imsopraj

First published: January 25, 2015, 7:58 AM IST | Updated: January 25, 2015
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Jaipur Literature Festival 2015: Former President APJ Abdul Kalam draws the largest crowd; shares life story, fitness tips, email address with fans
Former President APJ Abdul Kalam attended and addressed two sessions at the ongoing Jaipur Literature Festival.

Jaipur: There wasn't an inch of space around. The crowd, which mostly consisted of youngsters, were waiting eagerly to hear an 83-year-old speak.

Former President APJ Abdul Kalam attended and addressed two sessions at the ongoing Jaipur Literature Festival. In his trademark style, Kalam joked with the throng of crowd, making them stand up to ask their questions, giving them tips affectionately, and making them repeat life mantras after him.

Kalam made the youngsters vow to make India and world a better place to live.

"When there is righteousness in the heart there is a beauty in the character...when there is beauty in the character there is already in the home...when there is already in the home there is order in the nation and when there is order in the nation there is peace in the world...," he said as people repeated after him.

"Take a vow...that whatever you do in life you will always think what I can give. All the trouble starts when we think 'what I can get' , that's where the roots of corruption are," he said.

Kalam told the youngsters never to doubt their ability as he recalled his "doubt and confusion" when then ISRO chairman Satish Dhawan had asked him to make a rocket system to put satellite into orbit in a period of seven years.

"One fine day he said, Kalam you can take the budget you want, the number of people want and anything needed I will get it sanctioned from the cabinet, but you have to do this.

"I was surprised and confused, there were many people senior to me in my establishment. Why me? Will I be able to do it? I was doubtful. You should not be," the former scientist said.

Kalam also shared anecdotes about his 98-year-old brother APJ Muthu Meeran Labbai Marakair. "Our mantra for a healthy and long life is: proper exercise, eating meals at proper hours and keeping our mind engaged," he said.

Sharing his vision for 2020 and beyond, which are also the titles of his two books - 'Vision 2020' and 'Beyond 2020', Kalam said that the five key areas the country needs to focus upon are education, infrastructure, entrepreneurship, health and sustainable development.

"We need to transform our education system too. My suggestion is that 30 per cent of the syllabus in class 9-12 should be reduced and skill-based courses should be introduced in schools. So, when a child passes out of class 12, he has two certificates one of his academic credentials and another of his school credential. Similarly in colleges, there should be a concept of a degree plus diploma in the same fashion," he said.

Kalam said that entrepreneurship is the key to economic development of the country and to fulfilment of vision 2020 as well.

"We need more employment generators and not employment seekers. Our IT sector is doing well, pharmacy is doing well, our agriculture is just excellent. We need more infrastructural development," he said.

As more and more hands were getting raised to ask questions to the beloved public figure, the organisers of the Festival were asking the moderator, Bibek Debroy, professor at the Centre for Policy Research, to wind up the session.

Kalam, who was grinning from ear to ear at the enthusiastic crowd, added a last remark as he stepped down from the stage: "Here's my email address," he said. "It is for autographs, photographs and answers," he concluded as the crowd cheered.

(With inputs from PTI)

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