Former President Dr APJ Abdul Kalam, 78, on Monday urged Hindustan Times and Hindi Hindustan to become dynamic partners in the development of the nation, Uttar Pradesh and Uttaranchal in particular.
He said, “The two newspapers together should bring out a data base of the 85 Lok Sabha constituencies of the two states, in consultation with district collectors, MLAs MPs, and Panchayati Raj institutions to formulate the development agenda for the people’s representatives.”
Dr Kalam, who spent over an hour and a half, interacting with the HT/HH staff, at the HT office – his first visit to any media house outside Delhi – set a three months’ deadline for the development blue print, suggested by him.
“Would HT/HH like to take this challenge and be partners in national development,” he asked.
His query was met with a unanimous “yes” and the great man even went on to advise the editorial staff what the data base should
Why is Dr APJ Abdul Kalam still a bachelor?
With a disarming smile, the former President said, "I live in a joint family. I have got four brothers elder to me and my extended family comprises of 40 members including grand children and great grand children."
The number has just gone up, he said, as an afterthought adding, "There has only recently been a new arrival with my brothers' grandson being blessed with his grandson! So even if I am a brahmachari, it doesn't matter if one person of this big family stays single."
With a motley audience, listening to him with rapt attention, he said, “Newspapers should facilitate dissemination of knowledge. In a mature democracy different views are essential to move towards citizen centric, Constitution-guided policy directions.”
While referring to his meeting with the Editors Guild sometime back he said, "Most of them were of the view that people like to read sensational news. I did not agree. They then asked me to head newspaper organisation. You know what it meant," he said with a smile.
When asked what he would like to see in a newspaper, Kalam said, "More positive and research based stories." He also said that young turks below 35 years should be encouraged.
Commending the 13-year contribution of HT in UP, he said, “Journalism is a great enabler to keep up the best democratic traditions of the country as a role model, in every facet of life. Yesterday, it was for the millions, today it is for the billions.”
Interestingly, on being asked, who was his role model, he remarked, “Vikram Sarabhai, space scientist, and my primary school teacher who drew a diagram and taught me how a bird flies. This later ignited my curiosity and propelled me into pursuing rocket science. I became a rocket engineer because of my teachers.”
Looking cheerful, even after a hectic day, the former President played the teacher to the eager children who had come to the HT office to meet him.
He made them repeat the following lines: “Ignited mind is the greatest resource on the earth, above the earth and under the earth.” A little later, he made them take another pledge: “I can do it, we can do it and India can do it.” Replying to a question on what he liked most about children, he said, " They don't have biases. There is righteousness of heart."”
He said, “Where ever I go, youths ask me what they can give to the nation. Nearly 540 million youths are aspiring to see a developed nation. They are ready to contribute and the media can motivate and participate in this development.”
Highlighting the challenges before the media, he said, “We have some of the richest persons in the world. At the same time we have to uplift 220 million people living below the poverty line. We have realized the Chandrayan Mission but we still have to make everyone literate in the country. We have the best of aircrafts, but we still have to connect the 6 lakh villages by roads.”
The priority, he said, is, “How to bring about an all-inclusive growth, which cannot be achieved without strengthening our multiple organs of governance.”