A.P.J. Abdul Kalam is a name that invokes respect and a sense of pride in people, especially among the youngsters. It’s proof of the former Indian president’s influence on the present generation that people value his words even a year after his death.
Rupa Publications has brought out a book on his lectures on his 85th birth anniversary. Aptly titled – ‘Learning How to Fly: Life lessons for the youth’, the book features 18 of his lectures made in the recent past to students.
It was for nothing that the person who was known to the world as the missile man of India was also christened People’s President.
He always began his speeches by saying ‘Hello Dear friends or students,’ and added it up with several anecdotes from his own humble beginning to drive in the desire to dream and pursue one’s goals tirelessly. The book begins with the lecture titled 'I will fly' and goes on to urge the students to become not just a successful person, but a good human being.
All his lectures are carefully crafted and filled with anecdotes that one could not help, but be influenced by it. The book stands loyal to the original speeches made by Dr. Kalam in both content and presentation.
His lectures though rich in content, were explained in simple terms. Complex aeronautical ideas were put across in the most effortless manner to ensure that even an audience without much of a scientific temperament can digest the facts.
Similar to his speeches, the book too breaks down ideas into points for easier assimilation.
The book also features two lectures made by Kalam to students in Kerala - Cochin School of Science and Technology, Muvattupuzha, and College of Engineering, Trivandrum.
Another laudable feature of the book is in the choice of lectures that also give us an insight into Kalam’s journey from a boatman’s son in the temple town of Rameswaram to the first citizen of the country and in the process taking the nation to the league of nuke-equipped states. That probably is the most inspiring tale ever that India has witnessed.
Through these lectures, we get glimpses of his childhood days, his works during the DRDO and ISRO days and how it helped in the formation of the man that India loved to respect.
However, the book fails to document his earlier lectures and sticks to the ones mentioned roughly in the period 2014-15. We get to read only 18 of his nearly 2,000 lectures. Kalam met close to 21 million students across the world during and after his presidency that ended in 2007 and interacted with youngsters from both elite institutions and schools in rural villages.
Even at the age of 83, Kalam could be assured of packed halls where both the young and the old trooped into hear his wise words. He was not merely passing on wisdom, but driving a generation on to the path of success.
And Kalam died while doing what he liked best – inspiring young minds to excel in life.
The book works as a gentle reminder on Dr. Kalam and his call to youngsters to ‘dream, dream and dream’.