Date with the Prez

Date with the Prez

It’s not everyday that you get to meet the President of the country in person. So when five students from Thane became the privileged few to be chosen as participants of the "Students Meet" with Dr. A P J Abdul Kalam, their joy knew no bounds.

The lucky five were among the 400 odd students from all over Maharashtra who had gathered at the Chandrasekhar Sabhagraha in Pune for a "Special Students Meet" organised by Sakal group on Wednesday May 28, 2003. Among the other VIPs present at the event were Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde, Deputy Chief Minister Chhagan Bhujbal and President of Nationalist Congress Party Sharad Pawar.

Thane’s Jidnyasa Trust was invited by the organisers to nominate five students from the city. And they chose the following city students: Ajinkya Kale (Class XII) and Rahul Shah (Class X) from SES, Swamini Deshpande (Class IX) from A K Joshi, Aditi Patil (Class VIII) from Sri Ma Bal Niketan and Deepika Karnik (Class X) from Sulochana Singhania School.

It goes without saying that these five felt rather fortunate. For, the President has a gift of enchanting young minds. In his address, which seemed more like a teacher taking a class, the President underlined the critical role that students had to play in transforming our country from a developing to a developed nation. He pushed them to achieve greater heights of success and make India proud.

Later, in his characteristic style, the President put the students to ease, asking a few of them to announce what they’d like to be when they grew up. Standard responses echoed in the auditorium: teacher, engineer, doctor and so on. Reacting to this he urged the students to do something different. To stress this point, he related an interesting anecdote about his visit to Orissa, where he met a young girl. He asked her the what-do-you-want-to-be-when-you-grow-up question and was pleasantly surprised and impressed when she replied, "Politician".

The scientist in Dr. Kalam also took over for a while when he discussed the a few scientific concepts. For instance, he explained the meaning of "Black Hole" and its described relevance. For amateurs, a black hole is simply a collection of matter or energy whose gravitational field is strong enough that light cannot escape from it.

The President was on the podium for about 40 minutes after which he ventured into the audience. Despite being shielded by bodyguards, he ambled along the hallway and interacted with students personally. Needless to say, the children were overwhelmed. The look on their faces said it all. They were excited, euphoric and totally moved.

Deepika Karnik, one of the fortunate five from Thane, exclaims, "The experience was inspiring and fascinating." Another happy participant was Rahul Shah who celebrated his birthday on the same day and couldn’t have asked for a better birthday present. He was jubilant.

This is not the first time that Bharat Ratna Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam has mesmerized children. Earlier this year, the President was addressing a similar gathering of students in Hubli when a sixth standard student asked him how she could become the President. Replying to her Dr. Kalam said that learning formed the basis for everything. "Learning leads to thinking, and thinking to knowledge. Knowledge becomes a powerful tool to realise your target." Now, how many of you are raring to go?

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