Introduction

This chapter is a speech that our late President, Dr A. P. J. Abdul Kalam, once addressed to the youth of the nation. He talks about the fears and problems that young people face, and the way in which they can overcome them and reach their goals.

Summary

The speech begins with a little poem:

When I wish upon a star,
Makes no difference who I am.
Anything my heart desires
Will come to me.

When we wish for something, it does not immediately change who we are, or come true. Anything our heart truly desires, will come to us. This is because we work hard for something if we truly desire it, and not simply wish for it upon stars.

The Youth and the Future

Abdul Kalam says he realizes how the contributions of the youth have contributed to the world in many fields. He asserts that no youth today needs to fear about the future because the ignited mind of the youth is the most powerful thing ever. He says he would like to talk to his young friends on the topic ‘I am born with wings.’

The previous year, Kalam went to a village to inaugurate a programme called Sasthrayaan, which means ‘the propagation of Science’. The goal of this programme was to prepare students from different rural schools and make them eligible to become engineers, scientists, doctors, managers, and civil servants. This would empower the village families.

Kalam’s inaugural address to an audience consisting of both students and their family members, was on the topic, ‘Science Empowers the Nation’. After Kalam’s address, many people asked questions. He selected twelve students at random to ask questions, because of time limitations.

The Young Village Boy’s Question

Kalam wants to share one of these questions with us. It was asked by a teenager from a distant village. He was a typical representative of the youth of India. The boy said he was nervous. He said he needed to have confidence, but had not gained any through his education all these years.

He was afraid to talk to his teachers and friends. Whenever he talked, he compared himself to other students and their beautiful clothes. The boy wanted to become a marine engineer. He wanted to travel in a ship, be its captain, and build its engine. He asked Kalam if he would be able to do all this, and how he should achieve his goal.

When the boy completed the question, the entire audience was looking at Kalam wondering what he was going to say. Kalam said that the boy had asked him the most difficult question and he valued it, because it displayed the fear of many. He then recited a beautiful ancient poem named

‘I will fly’.

I am born with potential.
I am born with goodness and trust.
I am born with ideas and dreams.
I am born with greatness.
I am born with confidence.
I am born with wings.
So, I am not meant for crawling,
I have wings, I will fly
I will fly and fly.

This poem urges us to use our potential and ideas to reach our goals.

How to be Unique

Kalam says he wants to discuss with his young friends how they can be unique. He had met fifteen million youth in a decade’s time and learnt that every youth wanted to be unique.

But the world around them was trying its best to make them like everyone else. At home they were asked to be more like the neighbours’ children. At school, they were told to be more like the class toppers. People were constantly asking youngsters to be somebody else, or to be like everybody else.

The challenge, Kalam says, is that every youth has to fight the hardest battle which any human being can ever imagine, and never stop fighting until they become a unique person.

Conclusion

Although it is very natural to be afraid of our future, we must believe in ourselves and our potential, because this will help us fly and reach our goals. We must fight to be unique in a world that wants to make us like everyone else.