It was a special Friday for ever 2000 child scientists from across India who gathered under a large tent erected at the campus of the SN Bose National Centre for Basic Sciences just to hear the inaugural speech by former President of India and renowned nuclear scientists, Dr APJ Abdul Kalam.
As Kalam took the state to inaugurate the Children’s Science Congress, an integral part of the ongoing 100th Science Congress in Kolkata, his young admirers gave him a deafening standing ovation.
Explaining to the scientists of tomorrow the gravity of the 100th Science Congress, Kalam said, “The earth takes 365 days to orbit the sun, which means that the science congress is orbiting the sun for over 100 years now! Can you imagine?”
To the sea of adoring young faces surrounding him, Kalam spoke of the importance of ‘excellence in thinking and action. “To achieve this, you need to know that science is born out of question. The biggest question now is how many of you have an inquisitive mind?” the former President asked.
As hundreds of hands shot up into the air, Kalam pointed out, “India has to become one of the greatest countries in pursuit of science and technology by 2020. To help your country achieve the status all the young minds of today need to have courage to think differently, to invent, to travel unexplored paths - to discover the impossible and to probe.”
As the youthful audience began jostling each other in an attempt to photograph Kalam, the nuclear scientist turned schoolteacher. “Photographers sit down. All of you in the front row,” he said as the crowd started clapping After peace was restored, the scientist said, “You need to have four things with you - first, a great aim in life, having a small aim is criminal. Second, you need to continually pursue knowledge and the third point is to work hard.”
“The fourth essential quality,” Kalam added, “is to have perseverance. You should never be afraid of any problems but become its captain and win it over. Can you do it?”
Looking at the young crowd, he said, “Before I conclude, you all will take an oath with me.” The oath went as follows - “I realise within me there is a power. It will rise and rise.” As the simple lines were echoed by the unison of young voices, hope swelled that the mantra would help them become great minds in the years to come.