Delivering the 7th V Venkat Rao Memorial Lecture to a packed audience, the eminent scientist and educator spoke on a range of issues, targeted especially at students and young researchers.
Paying tributes to Prof VV Rao, Dr Kalam appreciated him as a teacher extraordinary, who contributed both to welfare of students and to institutions of higher learning. He wondered how many such teachers would be there in the country at present. “Young people should be inspired by the life and work of Prof Rao… so unique and noteworthy,” he mentioned.
His speech made a strong appeal in making education more value based, favouring a process that laid emphasis on research and teaching. He said that creativity in learning and an interdisciplinary approach would act as keys to open new opportunities.
In his inimitable style he involved young students in his address by asking them to repeat inspirational words. In one instance, he quoted the 13th century poet Rumi: “…You were born with goodness and trust, You were born with ideals and dreams,
You were born with greatness, You were born with wings…” Not surprisingly students joined him with great enthusiasm.
Dr Kalam emphasised the importance of value based education, asserting that parents, teachers and a harmonious environment played critical roles in shaping a student. Among teachers, he referred to primary school teachers as the most important and added that they should be well paid.
Education, in his view, should bring in synergies among different faculties and should be a breeding ground for creativity. Such an environment should have space for values and spirituality.
The well- travelled scientist briefly alluded to his experiences at retail major Wal-Mart and mentioned its founder Samuel Moore Walton, saying that Walton was able to create a new business model by being intrepid and transparent. He wanted young Indians to “work with integrity and also succeed with integrity”.
In an interactive session with young students, the former first citizen revealed a positive outlook and urged them to act with courage and conviction. The interaction included questions and answers that ranged from development to terrorism, along with issues related to technology and education.
Earlier in his address, Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi offered his tributes to Prof VV Rao and said that he was not just a brilliant academic but a good human being. He further appreciated Prof Rao’s contribution as a philanthropist and his role as a mentor to many students.
Today’s function also witnessed the release of a book on Prof VV Rao written by G Saharia, which was formally released by the Chief Minister and the former President. Gauhati University Vice Chancellor, Prof OK Medhi delivered the welcome address.