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Dr. A. P. J Abdul Kalam, Former President of India


"A clear aim, knowledge, hard work and perseverance spells success"
by Careers360

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A vibrant octogenarian - that's what describes Dr Kalam best. For a man of 80 summers, Dr.
Kalam is extraordinarily full of life even at 8.15 p.m. When we sat down for a freewheeling
chat, nay an experience. We ask him about his famous 'thinking hut' at Rashtrapati Bhawan.
'It is a great place,' he says. 'Two books came out of there. Here, I don't have sufficient area but everywhere I capture thoughts.' His infectious enthusiasm overpowers us all as we hear
him talk about how to live a life to its fullest possible potential. Here are the excerpts of his
interaction with Team Careers360
Q. Sir, you always say that we must dream big and follow our dreams. What makes one
follow one's own dreams? Parents, access or commitment?
A. Dreams are finally nothing but goals or mission in life. In my case I had great teachers in various phases of life. And also my
parents, my father and mother were very useful teachers to me throughout their lives. I was the only fellow in the family studying,
and their ommitment to me was absolute. The spiritual environment at home shaped me. You should convert your goals and
mission to success in spite of problems. That is my lifelong commitment.
Q. Sir, what is more important, the ability to handle failure or the ability to respond to failures?
A. Of course, I have myself gone through many successes and a few failures. And I have also met a number of successful people
throughout the world wherever I have gone, and when I discuss with them, they reveal how many problems they have encountered,
what kind of failures they have had. So, I have come to the conclusion that great success has some element of failure also. I still
remember Prof. Satish Dhawan, he gave me a project in 1973, were you born then?

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Q. I was born in '73.
A. (A burst of laughter) He gave me the SLV project in 1973, and named me the project director. I found that there were a lot of
senior people above me, you know, experienced people, they should support me and there were a number of youngsters with high
technical knowledge. So, I had to bring them all together to succeed. At that time I was in my thirties, 39 or 40. So, I was frightened,
whether I can do it. It's a great job, how can I do it for the first time, how to build a rocket, to make a satellite, and it's a big vision and
how can I do it?
Q. And the nation's expectations were on you?
A. A lot of expectation. So then Prof. Satish Dhawan, the chairman saw my hesitation. He called me and gave me some advice,
famous advice. He said, 'Kalam, if you don't do any work, you don't experience any problem.' Even in media, if you don't report there
is no problem. If you report, problem starts. (He laughs heartily at this). So, Prof.Dhawan said major programmes are always
coupled with major problems. But don't allow problems to become your captain, you should become the captain of the problem.
Defeat the problem and succeed. This advice he gave me in 1973, even now it's true. It is true for politicians, educationists, media
people, it's true in every area. So, the message I'm giving is we should take control of the problems, okay?
Q. Sir, why do we find 2/3 of India's engineering graduates unemployable? What do you think is the underlying problem?
A. During my recent visit to Canada I visited a university called Waterloo. For an engineering degree students are taught in the
classroom for one year, the next year they go to the industry. So two out of four years they spend in the industry. And in the industry
they learn to work within the system, it may be the software system or the hardware system, machine system, electronic system, or
chemical system. But they learn to apply what they studied at the university. So when they graduate there is good demand for them.
They can hit the ground running.
Q. So, it is lack of integration between real-life work and academia that is the problem?
A. I want to share with you my own experience. In 1957 I studied aeronautical engineering in Madras Institute of Technology. It was
a difficult discipline to get into and we were only nine students. Now, Prof. Srinivasan gave us a six months project in our final year.
The project was to design low-level (low altitude, he clarifies) attack fighter aircraft. So, having studied, aerodynamics, structures,
propulsion, control, etc., here we have to put them together into a workable aircraft system design. I was the project leader for that. I
was the ninth, so eight other people are there, someone would give propulsion, some other aerodynamics etc. So, after four-anda-half-months of study, I was there in my laboratory. The teacher, my guide comes.
At that time we did not have computers, I was using the design board for drawing the design of the aircraft and my friends were all
around me. So, he comes and sees and says, 'I'm completely disappointed with your work I am going to stop your scholarship if
you don't complete the design in two weeks time.' (Dr Kalam laughs.) It was a very costly education, if my scholarship stopped, I
had to return home. I talked all kinds of things, gave him excuses, told him we had worked so hard, all of us are suffering etc. But
to no avail. And so, finally all of us joined together day and night, Saturdays, Sundays we didn't even go to our hostels. And we
designed the fighter aircraft.
On a Sunday evening Prof. Srinivasan came, exactly one day before the deadline. He saw the design, he was very happy. Then, he
gave us Madras coffee in his house. (Dr. Kalam laughs again as he remembers). It taught me the value of planning, of teamwork,
of time. But what we learned most out of that is that in the education system, while we study mechanical engineering, electrical
engineering, hemical engineering etc. we should also have a clear understanding of how it all fits into a larger system, a
productive system. So students must also be taught system design, system integration, system management, since that is what
the industry wants. Our educational system should promote that.
Q. Why, sir, is entrepreneurship and skill development very important to you?
A. We add seven million people every year at 10+2 level and three million graduates every year. So, we inject ten million people
into the society every year as employment seekers. This is because entrepreneurship is not taught, either in the secondary school
education or in higher education or university education. Entrepreneurship is not part of the curriculum, neither is acquisition of
usable skills. That's why I'm saying if 30% people have to procure their skills, that training should be started during the period of
education itself.
Q. Sir, what would be three qualities which you think one requires for success in life?
A. I will say four qualities, okay. Number one, a clear aim in life, without it you will be going in all directions. Second, you should
acquire the knowledge. You acquire knowledge in multiple ways. Great books should be your friend, great teachers should be a
friend, and even home environment and parents can help you gain knowledge. The third aspect is hard work with devotion. I am
saying since your work is towards your mission, it should be permeated with the devotion to that mission you have in mind. And
the fourth one is perseverance. Persevere continuously. You do these four things and you can become anything. All these four

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things you have, work for it, you will achieve anything.
Q. Sir, would you then say, that it finally boils down to focusing on one mission in life?
A. No, it is finally that the goal should be in front of you. That is my experience. We are always tempted to do many things
simultaneously. But if you start doing one thing, have one goal and put all your efforts into that, then definitely you will succeed. Of
course, you have to win! A problem always appears here and there but you have to face the problem and defeat the problem.
Q. Sir, how do we, at Careers360 add better value for our readers?
A. You should not become just like any other magazine. You see 700 million people are living in the rural area, you are reporting
about 300 million people. So you should report the success story of a fisherman, an agrofood processor, a farmer, a craftsman.
The message is become the magazine of a billion people population.
Q. Sir, one last word to our readers.
A. They must think in a big way. I remember 2000 years back, there is a famous saying in Thirukural by Saint Poet Thiruvalluvar Vellathanaythu Malar Neetam Mandartham Ullathanaytu UyarvuIt means that, just like the height of the water in a pond determines
the height to which a lily would grow, it is the heights of thoughts that determines the heights to which you could aspire for. So as
human beings they should have great thoughts, great aims, and when thoughts become transformed into actions performed with
perseverance and devotion, success has to follow.Thank you very much sir...
Published on: June 01, 2009

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17 Comments

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Adeel hussain | Jun 05, 2011

Great great great work ! Well done ! Careers 360. This is the conversation that can create enthusiasm to acquire any thing to any
person. even aimless person can be enthuse by this great conversation.
Shantu patil | Apr 26, 2011

Careers360 is a good magazines for a student. Dr kalam sir is an ideal person in my life
Shubham Pandey | Feb 23, 2011

Respected Sir, Your one Proverb that Sapne woh nahi hote jo neid mein aaye ,Sapne toh woh hote hai jine pura kiya bina neid na
aaye. is Quiet Enough to change my life & also of other people who wanted to Be Sucessful in Their life. My Aim is to be District
Magistrate & to be Sucessfull in My Life & make India to be Developed Country.Your Lesson in Textbook of English Of F.Y.J.C is
Heart Touchable & Specially that Last Sentence Of Hyderabad Girl that her aim is to Live in Developed India. I am College Student
So Please Contact me on Email Id
pankajanand | Nov 22, 2010

whenever i saw the pic of mr. kalam . i get excitd and try to know more and more about him.............. thanx to Caree360 team.............
saloni kogta | Oct 08, 2010

hello, i'm 15 years old and i've just finished reading 'The Wings of Fire'. Honestly, it is a book from which everyone can learn one
thing or the other. i've realised the importance of team work and determination. i hope my hardwork and toil would one day help our
nation reach those heights that some of our national leadres had long back dreamt of.
RAGHAVENDRA | Aug 01, 2010

he is the man
RAJESH CHOUDHARY | Jun 26, 2010

SIR,I WANT TO TALK WITH YOU ,PLEASE CONTACT ME ON 09462335071


ashish kumar soni | Apr 18, 2010

sir i meet to you becous u r my ideal person my quistion is that why india is not a devloped ?
ranjeet gupta | Apr 18, 2010

very energized word of Dr.Kalam .I am very inspired to kalam.'kalam is a dreamer of great dreams ..'his words-dream, dream, dream
dreams transform into thoughts and thoughts result in action.He is a ideal person of my life.
Hari Prasad | Apr 16, 2010

CAREERS360 is the good magazine for the students for those who seek jobs....and interviews from the great persons like ABDUL
KALAM sir will inspire........ sir plz do some more to change the lives of uneducates in INDIA
|Careers360 | Mar 15, 2010

Dear Vijayakumar, do check careers360.com in the next one week for the remaining stories of this month's edition.
k. vijayakumar | Mar 15, 2010

i think it would be better if all the contents of the careers360 is available on the website instead of only selected pages. when i tried
to browse through the india's best students i could find only Dr. Manmohansingh and others that were found in the journal are
absent in the web expecting more from careers360 with thaknx vijayakumar
Rasleen | Mar 01, 2010

Very aspiring words. But sir my request to u is please do something to change the present day scenario of education in India.
Students like me are the sufferers. N thanks to careers 360 team for their efforts.
Ekansh | Feb 19, 2010

Very brilliant and educative article. Thanks a lot to the Careers360 team as well as Sir Abdul Kalam for this inspiring interview. Good
if we could implement these changes in our education system as told by Sir Kalam.
Sanjeev Chodankar | Feb 18, 2010

Thanks a lot for the article and Sir APJ Abdul kalam is the best educationist.I think he should also go to medium small scale it firms
to make them enthusiastic about their goals.
Pratik Saptarshi | Feb 15, 2010

A heart-felt thanks to "Career360 Team" for organizing this interview and publishing it. Reading about 'Uncle Kalam' is always heartwarming and inspiring.
Hemali Kapoor | Feb 15, 2010

Excellent...Thanks to Career360 team...

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