This is a book written by former president of India and eminent scientist, Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam and dedicated to the youth of India.
To begin with, the text entreats the Indian youth to rise to the occasion and light a fire in their minds and hearts. The fire to learn, innovate and push the envelope so that the country can realize its vast promise in fields of economy, education, prosperity and peace.
This will a long drawn out process and requires a change in attitude and aptitude essentially. Even though the country is blessed with riches of material and manpower, it is the need to establish a peaceful environment for the creative energies to flourish and write a golden chapter in its history.
Kalam’s Past Experience
The author then goes on to recollect one of his toughest days when his helicopter crashed to the ground after a midflight snafu. Astonishingly every person on board came safely.
But that incident led Kalam to envision a scenario where he found himself short of answers. He pondered about the human tendency to violence and chaos and how the greatest of minds struggled to fight against it.
From leaders like Gandhi and Lincoln to innovators like Omar and Einstein, he searched for clues to find his own answer. He finally realized the only weapon to overcome such self-destruction is wholesome education.
He made a pact to marry the spiritual zeal of faith with the possibilities offered by education. Such symbiosis was essential to tackle the contemporary problems of the world and the human race.
He calls on striking a balance between material desires and soulful pursuits and development. Mutual integration is what makes a person achieve calm and joy in his life.
India Needs Youth
He proclaims that India needs its young minds to unleash their potential for good. They need to develop scientific temper and a spirit of enquiry to convert a resource rich nation into a smarter and happier nation. Here lies the important of exemplary personalities and healthy role models.
Often, young people chart out their courses looking at someone they admire. They try to emulate their achievements even though everyone has their own story to write. In the process, they lay the foundation to a different future of the entire nation they form and generate.
Lessons from Great Leaders
He gives example of Einstein in his childlike fascination with science and numerous queries kike a spinning magnetic needle. He also praises Mahatma Gandhi and his unwavering insistence on truth and non-violence that caused even his staunchest opponents to yield to his demands. There are more visionaries like Homi Bhabha, Verghese Kurien, and Satish Dhawan etc who are mentioned.
He takes inspiration from such examples in order to find solutions for contemporary problems like faltering economy or rampaging poverty. India has had a history of overcoming ghosts of imperialism, invasion etc. Even though there were times of muted struggle, India forged and retained its natural and unique identity.
Challenges in Modern Age
In the modern struggle to revive its economy and overcome the residual sluggishness of its colonial past, India needs its young minds to rise to the challenge. They must look forward but also find strength in their past glories and storied traditions. India’s journey in to the new millennium necessitates such fusion of modern tools and technology with ancient knowledge and practices.
In the next section, Kalam informs about the need to empower ourselves with nuclear capabilities. Highlighting India’s past struggles with invasion and colonialism, he sheds light on the dominance of nuclear powers like the US and Russia when it comes to geopolitics.
For a diverse society like India, multi-religious and multi-ethnic fabric provides a point of unity not segregation. He encourages young Indians to not fall victim to the rhetoric of division and disharmony. They must counter such forces of hate and domination
He, however, concedes that the scale of governance that a giant like India demands is difficult to achieve. The sheer richness of the diverse and multi-faceted fabric of national life makes it a huge challenge. This requires a tunnel vision and a mission-mode approach.
Kalam goes onto encourage the capacity to make goals and the will to achieve those goals.
When one is powered by a purpose, all limitations and doubts become incapable to halt his progress. India has an unmatched story, the most colorful history and a wealth of knowledge that stands unparalleled.
However, with these, there have been spells of darkness and events of great tragedy and regret. We need to learn from those tough experiences and astride forward towards our collected aspirations and dreams.
India’s resolve to reengineer and reinvent itself after moments of crushing disasters is well documented. It is this spirit of generosity and togetherness that the leaders must practice and propagate in order to inspire and ignite the young minds of the country.