Saturday, November 16, 2013

It is not everyday that school and university students would get the rare opportunity to listen to and interact with a prominent political figure and educator. But on Thursday, the 7th of November, former President of India Dr. A.P.J Abdul Kalam spoke to a ballroom packed with students, teachers and press at the Sharjah International Book Fair 2013. In addition to his term as the 11th President of India, Dr. Kalam has contributed more than 50 years of his life to the fields of science, research, and education.

Dr. A.P.J Abdul Kalam speaking to students
at the 32nd Sharjah International Book Fair.
Photo Credit: Lavanya Narayan
During the session, Dr. Kalam spoke about his vision for India in the year 2020, as well as recounts of experiences with other students and children as an academician and as President. One of his most memorable experiences took place in Acropolis of Athens, Greece, where he encountered a disabled young boy, who recited a poem he had written himself titled 'I Have No Legs'. He also made the students in the audience take several oaths, one of them being 'great books ignite imagination, imagination leads to creativity, creativity blossoms thinking, thinking provides knowledge, knowledge makes you great'.

Students eagerly awaiting
the arrival of Dr. A.P.J Abdul Kalam.
Photo Credit: Lavanya Narayan
Dr. Kalam's speech was followed by a Q&A session with the audience, particularly the students. Before receiving each question, Dr.Kalam asked the students to tell everyone what they were studying. When asked by a young student about what he loved most, being a scientist or being the President of India, Dr. Kalam replied, 'Before anything else, I am a teacher and an educator. I love teaching more than anything else.'

By Lavanya Narayan

The writer is a final year Media & Communication undergrad student specializing in Journalism.