"My National Flag flies in my heart and I will bring glory to my Nation." - Guru Kalam

Guru Kalam Memorial Lecture

Guru Kalam Memorial event touches the hearts of many

Guru Kalam Memorial Lecture | 2019


By Billion Beats Editorial Team

Inspired Indian Foundation® (IIF), Bengaluru, held its annual function to honour unsung heroes and inspiring people from various walks of life on October 19, 2019. The morning programme also witnessed Dr G Satheesh Reddy, Chairman of Defence Research and Development Organisation, deliver the 4 th Guru Kalam Memorial Lecture (4GKML), the signature event of IIF.

The programme opened with a scintillating performance by the No 1 AF Band led by Master Warrant Officer Achuthan. The premier IAF troupe played the National Anthem next, setting the tone for the solemn scheme of things to follow.

Dr Kota at his best

Dr Kota Harinarayana, Chief Mentor of IIF and the brain behind the against-the- odds success story of India’s Light Combat Aircraft (LCA-Tejas) programme, stepped up to give the introductory address. He welcomed the many school delegations present, recalling how Dr Kalam had always yearned to be remembered as a teacher. He said he was glad that more and more unsung heroes and heroines were being honoured by IIF each year while the cause itself was being strengthened with the volunteer programme garnering huge interest.

Welcoming the Chief Guest, Dr Kota was at his humourous best as he marvelled how Dr Satheesh kept getting younger with age. On a more serious note, he expressed confidence that Dr Satheesh would continue to enthuse more young people to do more for the sake of the nation.

Dr Kota said it was not physical space as much as the ability to open up greater space in the heart, which could make things happen.

He called on the assembled young audience to ensure their nation would always have pride of place in their heart.

A video of IIF’s 10-year journey was played next to give the audience an understanding of various missions through which the organisation continues to make a difference to the lives of others.

Junior Missile Man checks in

A short video about Dr Satheesh introduced the pathbreaking scientist fondly referred to as Junior Missile Man before he took the stage to deliver the 4GKML. Lauding IIF Founder-President Dr Anantha Krishnan M for being a pillar of the organisation right through, Dr Satheesh observed that the good work done by IIF also highlighted the presence of a strong team that could complement such a fabulous vision.

Dr Satheesh recalled his long association with Dr Anantha and the latter’s steadfast devotion to Dr Kalam, which had seen him campaign tirelessly for a fitting memorial in the former President’s hometown of Rameswaram following his demise. He said IIF’s commitment to Dr Kalam’s vision for India had been really inspiring and had prompted him to personally follow up DRDO’s efforts to build the memorial and ensure its upkeep.

Bringing in people who are relatively unknown to the world and recognising them is a great gesture, Dr Satheesh said. IIF had always given prime importance to activities for the greater good and deserved to be commended for its efforts, he said. Recalling his own association with Dr Kalam as a scientist at some of India’s foremost defence research establishments, Dr Satheesh said he would remain ever thankful to Dr Kalam for spotting his potential as a navigation specialist and encouraging him to pursue that path in his future career.

Dr Kalam, he said, was an inspirational figure who had the courage to take up multiple projects at a time while always reminding those around him, especially young people, to ‘Think Big.’ This quality remained one of Dr Kalam’s biggest inspirations, he added.

Another major change Dr Kalam brought about in terms of defence sector interactions was the concept of review meetings, Dr Satheesh recalled. Such reviews allowed open discussion on all aspects of various ongoing projects, thus facilitating an appraisal of problems, solutions, et al, he said. From being an apparatus that was closed to queries or even constructive criticism, a new system took shape that enabled detection of flaws and necessary upgrades alongside actual technology development. This remains one of the big legacies of Dr Kalam to the nation’s defence programmes, he added.

Dr Satheesh also recounted how Dr Kalam’s penchant for thinking big transformed an area that was once a virtual jungle infested with snakes into one of DRDO’s foremost missile research labs, the Research Centre Imarat, or RCI. “Ideas should be floating around in the air of RCI,” he said recalling Dr Kalam’s words at the time. People used to make fun of the Agni missile programme following initial failures but the world took note when our persistent efforts finally paid off, Dr Satheesh recalled. It was thanks to Dr Kalam’s ability to set targets for himself and those around him that India’s defence missions could constantly keep moving forward through the tough phases, he said.

“Dream, dream, dream, so you won’t sleep but work assiduously to realise your dreams – that’s how Dr Kalam would inspire young minds,” Dr Satheesh reiterated, noting how India’s self-reliance in missiles, radars, torpedoes, guns and other aspects owed a great deal to Dr Kalam’s determination and perseverance.

“Work on futuristic things, work on many things simultaneously,” was how Dr Kalam inspired a whole new work culture, Dr Satheesh said.

Reaching out to the predominantly young audience, Dr Satheesh said: “Personality matters. You make your personality such that difficulties don’t matter. You have to shape your personality in this manner from a young age – like Dr Kalam.” The occasion saw IIF honouring Dr Satheesh with a special momento.

Inspiring heroes step up

The attention soon shifted to the remarkable personalities who would be conferred the Inspired Indian Awards. The first of them would be Air Marshal S R K Nair (Retd) who received the Inspired Indian Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award for his stupendous feats with respect to military aviation.

The next awardee was Nanjundaswamy M, a reporter with Vijay Karnataka, who received the G Santha Teacher Memorial Journalism Award for his commitment to social issues and people-centred stories.

The IIF Award for Entrepreneurship went to Radhika and Raj Narayan, who have carved a niche for themselves through the Radel brand that is synonymous with digital Indian musical instruments.

Capt Audrey Maben received the IIF Award for Aviation in recognition of her many firsts as a woman pilot.

Shankar Devanoor was honoured with the IIF Award for Public Service in view of his unstinting efforts to improve government services, especially in rural areas. Sonia Singh received the IIF Award in the Passion category for her inspiring attitude to life even when battling serious illness.

The IIF Award in the Sports category went to Shalini Saraswathi for inspirational achievements notwithstanding disease-inflicted bodily ravages.

The IIF Award for Bravery went to two individuals. Ketan N Chodvadiya was honoured for his daredevil rescue act during a building blaze in Surat. Venkatesh was the other Bravery Awardee: for his readiness to discount personal peril to help an ambulance cross an inundated bridge amid widespread floods.

Rahul Verma was honoured with the IIF Award for Social Service in recognition of his work to ensure healthcare and essential services for underprivileged sections. IIF also gave away cash awards to seven beneficiaries, including one brilliant young mind whose physical faculties have been severely curtailed by muscular dystrophy and a lady who has lost both kidneys.

The event also saw IIF’s vision for the future receive prominent endorsement with Dr Satheesh releasing the logo for IIF’s Mission 2040 project to inspire young minds to step up as future leaders.

Dr Kalam’s grandson and Founder Trustee of Abdul Kalam International Foundation, Rameswaram, Sheikh Saleem, in his address, paid tribute to IIF’s relentless efforts to honour unsung and inspiring people and its many programmes to keep alive Dr Kalam’s grand vision for India.

P V Sindhu’s rare gesture

The function was also special in that Badminton World Champion P V Sindhu sent across a video message from Denmark, where she is participating in a tournament, expressing her joy at being associated with an event in Dr Kalam’s memory and with an organisation working with him at its heart. She wished IIF all success in all its future endeavours.

A panel discussion followed soon after during which school and college students had an opportunity to put across questions to the awardees and special guests. The session was peppered with witty anecdotes and inspiring words from many a special guest as they fielded queries from excited students with immense humility and passion. All the awardees and special guests then posed for a collective photograph. The event concluded with the National Anthem bringing all assembled to their feet once more.

There was also an opportunity for school and college students to be snapped with the Chief Guest and it generated quite a buzz right at the end of the programme. Students also showed great interest in a couple of stalls set up by DRDO exhibiting scale models of various indigenously made aircraft and armaments, with many of the youngsters taking selfies or photos with the exhibits in the backdrop.

Musical and dance tribute
IIF also held a dance-music event ‘Smarananjali’ as a tribute to our icon Guru Kalam in the evening. The youthful Hindustani fusion band Soule delivered a scintillating performance first up.

An awe-inspiring Kathak masterclass by Dr Jayanthi M Eshwaraputhi followed. The dance legend kept her audience spellbound with a commentary about the intricacies of the routine as she went along.

Dr Roopa IPS was the chief guest at the evening programme. During her address, she was all praise for organisations like IIF for recognising inspiring people from various walks of life.

She said that IIF’s efforts were even more noteworthy given that the craving for publicity was virtually inseparable from the actual work done by supposedly charitable organisations. She also expressed her gratitude for IIF’s proposal that she accept a role as a Mentor with the organisation.
Vincent M D, General Manager, SBI, along with a team of top officials from the bank also attended the evening programme.
Local artists Prabhu and Madhu lent their mite to the event by putting up some lovely pieces of art for an auction to support the cause.

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