4:32 pm - Saturday September 25, 2956

Kalam spurs youths to work hard  

Famed former Indian president Dr APJ Abdul Kalam mesmerised a huge gathering of youths in Dhaka yesterday with his usual inspirational speech, pushing them for dreaming great and defeating failures.

“There will always be problems in life. Problems should not become your captain, rather you should become the captain of the problem, defeat the problem and succeed,” said the scientist while addressing over 700 university students at Sonargaon Hotel in the capital.

He is now in the capital to attend the 110th founding anniversary of the Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce & Industry, Dhaka. The two-day celebration kicked off with the dialogue with the students, reports the Daily Star.

kalam-on-mcciKalam, who served as India’s 11th president between 2002 and 2007, has long been working for the youth in his home country, and said in the last two decades he met 18 million youths at home and abroad “in order to know their dreams”.

He said the youth of Bangladesh formed a significant demographic and would soon become half of the country’s total population.

“Their concerns, issues and opportunities will be crucial for the growth and development of Bangladesh.

“Your dreams will be Bangladesh’s dream, your thoughts will be Bangladesh’s thoughts, and your actions will be Bangladesh’s action,” said Kalam, who has already launched a movement in India involving youth to fight corruption.

He said the youth needed to have a great aim in life because a “small aim is a crime”.

He urged the youth to acquire knowledge and work hard even during the times of difficulties in order for achieving the goals, as he repeatedly addressed the audience as “young fellows”.

“You also need to know how to manage failures. You can easily manage success.”

Kalam said although his childhood dream to become a pilot did not materialise, it did not stop him from working hard to become what he was today.

“How you manage your failure is a big issue. Great leaders know how to handle success and failures equally.”

He added leaders should be the ones who took the blame in case of any failure and celebrated the success with all people associated with the success.

“Leaders should be where the problem is. This is the real leadership. It is true in case of trade, commerce, business and politics.”

In an attempt to evoke dreams in the hearts and minds of the participants, Kalam referred to a nice poem of the great Persian poet Jalal ad-Din Rumi, and led the young audience recite it.

“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 wings. I am not meant for crawling because I have wings. I will learn to use them and fly.”

He said he modified the poem a little to make it relevant to the Bangladeshi youths.

The scientist also called for disposing of all nuclear warheads in the world. “People should work for a nuclear-free world.”

Kalam said in his 83 years of life, he had seen success and gone through difficulties and learnt one thing which was to “never allow problems to be your captain”.

He called on the students to dream first, then transform the dream into thoughts and translate the thoughts into actions.

He said if the youth could not acquire the right knowledge, their aims in life would not materialise. “Knowledge will give you greatness.”

During a question-answer session, the former Indian president said the urban amenities such as electricity, road systems, education and water should be made available to rural areas in order to reduce poverty.

He is scheduled to speak at a discussion at Bangabandhu International Conference Centre today where the new logo and a book on the MCCI, the country’s oldest trade chamber, will be unveiled. He will also deliver a keynote speech at another session at the same venue.

MCCI President Rokia Afzal Rahman said she could not express in words how grateful her chamber was as the former Indian president had taken the trouble to come to Bangladesh to grace the founding anniversary of the MCCI.

Anis A Khan, vice president of MCCI, gave the vote of thanks.

Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed, a number of former advisers of caretaker governments, members of the MCCI board, civil society members and faculties from different universities were present at the dialogue.