Sunday, July 27, 2008

A report on Meeting with Dr.APJ Kalam at Raj Bavan

Dear All,

Thanks a lot to all the friends who wished me the very best. Even before I start describing about the meeting, I would like to thank Mr.Srinivasan from IndiaVision for giving us the rare opportunity of life. As I mentioned in my earlier email the meeting with Dr.APJ Sir went on really well. I am trying my best to bring it in words so each of u can have the feeling of "having been there".

A few warnings:)

a) It is gonna be a very bigggggg report.
b) My language would certainly do NO justice to the humbleness of the great man. He is very very very polite. So read the discussion assuming that humble tone of the great man.
c) Mistakes [ spelling and grammar] are very much part of such a big report. My apologies to you all and also to friends who were there if I had missed reporting anything.

The morning of 24th our friend Shiva from IV messaged me that we would meet Dr.APJ Sir at Raj Bavan and asked us to be there at 9. I reached Raj Bavan at 8.30, the security personnel were surprised to see someone coming at 8.30 for a 10.30 meeting :-) When I told them that coming early is just to make sure that it doesn’t become so that sir reaches early and we late, they smiled and asked me to wait just opposite to Raj Bavan road. Very soon, Shiva reached the place and as we were discussing, Suyam friends reached as well. Very soon Srinivasan sir also joined us and in a few minutes we had all those were to meet Dr.APJ at Raj Bavan.

Time passed by as we used the opportunity to get to know each other. Our DI friends Parthy and Eswar wished me in person and phone respectively and gave some inputs on what to ask etc :-) Around 10.15 PM, the security personnel called us in and after making sure we had everyone around, we were asked to enter Raj Bavan towards the guest house where we were to meet Dr.APJ sir. As expected the security check was done and we were asked to sit in the waiting room. [ Here I have to mention this, the security people did NOT allow our personal camera man inside with the camera. It is only because of Srinivasan sir's call to Mr.Ponraj, the PS to Dr.APJ Sir, we could have him inside].

We were served tea and biscuits by the Raj Bavan people. We had many VIP's like the last PA to Mahatma Gandhiji, ex and current Vice Chancellors of Anna University etc in the waiting room with us. Ours were the second appointment and there we were in waiting room with the excitement of going to meet "The Man" who made us start this meaningful life. Srinivasan sir said, " I have done the job of taking the horse to the pond, now it is up to you people to drink water using your skills" :-) Time was well past 11 by this time, the appointment was for 10.30 :-).

As we were discussing about what and how things would go, again we were asked to reach the waiting room in first floor. As we sat there comfortably, Srinivasan sir introduced us to various other VIP's who joined us in a few mins. One of our friends had a book "Kalam effects" written by Mr.P.M Nair, who was the PS for Dr.APJ Sir during his 5 years presidential term. Let me tell you, the book is simply awesome. I was so engrossed in reading it that Jayasri [ friend from India Sudar] started complaining that I was not interacting with anyone :-) I assure you that once u start reading the book, you would never want to keep that away without reading it completely. Mr.Nair makes a mention about Dr.APJ sir's punctuality [ I leave it for u all to find ] and I started laughing at once. It was almost 12 by then :-)

Around about that time, the people waiting for first appointment were called in. The heart beat started increasing by now and my goodness we started counting the minutes as well. By 12.15 we were asked to enter the room. Siva was kind enough to let us all in first inside the room. As I entered in, Dr.APJ was asking " Ellarm Saaptacha?" = "Have u had your dinner? I am sorry for making you people wait". This very instance is enough to tell volumes about the humility of the great man. After making sure we all had dinner, Dr.APJ sir asked us to be seated. When we asked Sir to sit, he said " Naan inga utkarnthukren, neenga ellam inga irrunga". == " I will sit here, you all please take your seat".

A few of us sat on the sofa while Ravi, Siva, Jayasree and myself we sat comfortably on the carpet. Our Srinivasan sir took care of introducing each of us to Dr.APJ Sir. Mr.Arvind, MD of Matrixview solutions explained Dr.APJ Sir about his inventions and also the charity work they are doing at various villages in South India. Dr.APJ sir and Mr.Arvind discussed various technical parameters about his invention. Dr. APJ Sir even told us about some of his work related to the invention by Mr.Arvind.

After Mr.Arvind, Mr.Periasamy was introduced and he explained how he chose the path of Ahmisa after following the path of violence for major part of his life. He was very active in "political politics" [ u wud soon find what it is] and later chose this path. He is doing a tremendous job by conducting night schools for underprivileged children in almost 60 villages. If my memory holds me right, it was at this point of discussion, some mention about family came up and I told our Dr.APJ Sir as follows:" Sir, in your book you have mentioned about youth of India being the next generation of your family, you are seeing those youth here today in front of you". Sir smiled and we continued with the discussion.

The meeting was more like a chat with a friend and a superb discussion. I am giving all the messages from Dr.APJ Sir at the end so that we do not miss them. These messages were given by Sir during the briefing by various members mentioned below.

Mr.Kaartheban from team everest briefed about their group which was followed by Mrs. Uma from Suyam charitable trust. Later, Mr. "Kalam" Nagappan, [ yeah, he changed his name] briefed about Young Helping Minds. Following this Mr.Saravanan from Manam Malaratum briefed Dr.APJ Sir about their group. Jayasree [ her own ] and Mr.Arvind [ his mom's gift] gave the superb poetry they had written about Dr.APJ Sir.

After this...... yeah it was the time we all want to hear about :-) Yes, Srinivasan sir introduced about DI to Dr.APJ Kalam Sir. I gave the one page document prepared by Varun and Janaki with the website name and my contact number on it.

Dr.APJ Sir: Is this your website?
Me: Yes Sir,

Dr.APJ Sir: [ looking at the name on Top] Good, you name is Nagarajan........ryt?
Me: Natarajan Sir.

Dr.APJ Sir: Oh...Natarajan..[ looking at paper still]...hmm.. where is your email address?[I gave the DI card and Dr.APJ Sir looked at it...] Here I see it. Yeah, please tell me about DreamIndia.
Me: Sir, we friends were posted at TCS Mumbai. Three of us we started teaching slum children nearby and very soon all my friends joined us. And we wanted to keep a name for it and we thought "DreamIndia2020" would be the best as you are the one who inspired us to start this. We also have centers in Mumbai, Pune and Bangalore part from Chennai. We conduct classes for poor children and almost all members are professionals.

[ Someone interrupted during this period and Dr.APJ Sir after listening to it, again asked me, please tell me from beginning. This clearly showed that Dr.APJ Sir was very sincere and really wanted to know about all of us ]

Dr.APJ Sir: Very nice work. I am very happy to know about you all.
Me: Thanks a lot Sir.

[ Dr.APJ Sir collected the one page sheet and visiting card from me ]

Me: Sir, could you please sign this for me?

[ Dr.APJ Sir signed " Greetings", APJ A...]

Me: Thanks a lot Sir.

After this Ravi and Siva briefed Dr.APJ Sir about India Sudar and the good work they do. After giving us all the time available, Mr.Srinivasan sir explained Dr.APJ Sir about India Vision2020 team and partner groups. All our friends got autographs from Dr.APJ Sir. Time was almost 12.55 AM by then. :-)

I would like to mention the messages [ that I recollect ] given by Dr.APJ Sir during the course of discussion at this point:

a) To a question related to imparting good values to children: Sir responded: It is why I keep telling the importance of moral science class. We should have moral science class for an hour every week from 1std to college level. Those days we had such classes and it really helps one to learn the real values of life.

b) About vocational training: Sir himself said at one point, " Many of our children reach till 10th or +2 [ he refers that as 10+2] and then stop continuing the education. So we should make sure skill based training should be given from 5th standard." We mentioned about vocational training and sir said, yeah that should be the way as it help them earn. [ Sir, looked at my eyes while explaining this for almost a minute or two, I was actually wondering all that was happening was true really:)]

c) About politics: Ravi asked this question. Should youth enter politics. Sir said, "yes very well. We need people like you to be in the parliament. Only then we would be able to see a developed nation". At this point, I asked, " But Sir, in today’s politics people use force to even kill us if we want to do good". Sir responded, " When we are a group, we can certainly do it. See, there is two kind of politics, one if “political politics” – to build your party, do it 30% of time and other is “developmental politics “ – this one is for the nation and should be done 70% of time. Unfortunately, it is in the reverse now. Already I have seen that there are 30% MP's are graduates. So you people can certainly do it. Always believe you can do it".

d) Library: One of friends mentioned this idea about setting up libraries, Sir responded: This is a wonderful idea and even I have this mission. We should certainly do this. I have given my books to 30 or 40 libraries as well. [ apply warning b here ]

e) About parents and teachers at one point [ guess at the time of "Kalam" Nagappan briefing, Sir's first question to him was, "What did your father tell about changing the name?"]: One should always go by parents words. Father, Mother and Guru are the one we should respect all through our life.

After the briefing of all the groups, Dr.APJ Sir said the following.

Dr.APJ Sir: All of you have given me a lot of home work. [ referring to the documents we all gave and the details], I will read them and for sure we will work together definitely. I am very happy to have met you all today.
We need 1000 young people like you, we can definitely make India a developed nation. Next time around, I would like to spend one complete day with you people. Now tell me, you people have done all these things for me, what should I do for you guys? :-)

All of us: [ would be hard to believe, but true ] We just need your blessings Sir!

Dr.APJ Sir: God bless you all. [ at this moment, almost all of us took his blessings by touching his feet. Now u know why I chose the carpet area;) ] I want you all to repeat something with me...can we?

All: Sure Sir, [ we had taken print outs of the seven point oath of Dr.APJ Sir for students and I gave it to him]

Dr.APJ Sir: [ reading through it ] this also can be said, but I have another one as well. Will u repeat this hymn? ok, come on...[ we all repeated ]

"Where there is righteousness in the heart

There is beauty in the character.

When there is beauty in the character,

There is harmony in the home.

When there is harmony in the home.

There is order in the nation.

When there is order in the nation,

There is peace in the world."

[ at this point, I had to fight hard not to shed tears thinking of the 3 and half years journey. The very fact that we got the chance to offer DI at Dr.APJ Sir's feet, to whom all it belongs, made me shed happy tears. It was pretty emotional moment to be quite honest. There I was at the great man's feet repeating the hymn]

[ After the hymn, by this time the security personnel were requesting us that it has been almost 50 minutes already]

Mr.Srinivasan: Sir, what is the message you want to convey to India Vision2020?
Dr.APJ Sir: [ I got this golden chance of holding the microphone to record Dr.APJ Sir's message, thanks to Srinivasan sir! ]

[per se]

"The youth of the nation have a mission, the mission to bring smiles to the faces of one billion people. How to go about this mission? One should have following four qualities.

1) Very high ambition
2) Acquire the knowledge
3) Hard work and
4) Perseverance

By having high ambition and acquiring the knowledge by hard work and perseverance one can achieve this mission. This is the message I want to give for India Vision2020".

Me: [ In Tamil ] Sir, one last question. Whom do you think is the reason behind all your success and made you what you are today?
Dr.APJ Sir: It was my school teacher in 5th standard, Shri. Sivasubramanya Iyer. He is the one who made me [ the security people lost it completely as it was almost 1.05 A.M and said, please sir enough]

Me: Thank you sir.

[ Parthy and I, we got a chance to listen to this recording today, thanks to the kindness of Srinivasan sir]

After this, all of us thanked Dr.APJ Sir and he once again wished us all the best and mentioned that he was very happy to have met us. Again, Dr.APJ Sir promised that we would work together. With this, we all walked out of the temple with no heart to leave the darshan.

Post meeting:

It took a lot of time for us to realize what has happened. To be honest, none of us expected it to be a discussion like this. Dr.APJ Sir was like a friend to all of us and listened to each and every word of us sincerely. All of us thanked Mr.Srinivasan sir who made it all happen. The appointment was given only for sir, but he was so kind to give us all an opportunity of life. Also, one interesting point to note, actual time we were allotted was 10 minutes and the personnel mentioned, if Dr.APJ Sir likes the discussion, it would be for 15 mins max. But what happened was a 50 to 55 minutes discussion, which Dr.APJ Sir did not want to end at all :-)

After wishing each other, Srinivasan sir ensured everyone of us found a means to reach home safe. Mr.Arvind dropped me on his way home and I took the street for a 5 minutes walk to home. Nothing to hide here, I was totally lost and could not believe what had happened. [ It is continuing still ] Couple of policemen, they had seen me walking, came to me in a bike and asked me, " Is everything ok sir, you are talking to yourself. Where are you going?". I was all smiles and told them that I am coming from Raj Bavan after meeting Dr.APJ Sir. They asked me to reach home safe and left. Even after speaking to Parthy and Eswar the excitement level did not come down. Finally, I slept around about 4 without even me knowing it:-)

24th night, technically July 25th, 2008 Friday, I should say is "THE" moment of DI. The flower that blossoms every second in each and everyone of our heart, the one in our blood and breath was offered to God's feet!

now to relive the moment:

Still living on thoughts of July 25th,

"Hesitating to act because the whole vision might not be achieved, or because others do not yet share it, is an attitude that only hinders progress." - Mahatma


Surojeet_U610061 said...

Great work Natarajan ! I appreciate from the heart, the whole journey you guys have experienced, and finally got an opportunity to meet the person whom you preach !


Swaminathan Balasubramanian said...

Excellent work! I got really excited on seeing the fotos in orkut. Then found out that the report is in this blogspot.

He's really a wonderful person. To be very honest, I am jealous of you :-). Keep up the good work!

Ritu said...

Dear Natrajan and group,

First of all congratulations! for having got the chance for this great experience. You guys deserve greater treats like this very often. There is a great difference between thinking and doing. People like you are greatest inspiration to the youth of India, who think they can...and have the conviction and courage to do it....DreamIndia nad members were alsways my greatest inspirations; now I am a big fan of Mr Kalam as well after reading this.
great goin...keep rocking!
read my blog at:

Unknown said...

Great work..converting thoughts in reality..Best wishes for all success of DI.

SRIRAM said...

Dear DI team and Natraj, feels really great to read such a wonderful experience. You wrote it very well and gave the readers a great visual experience. Praying for your org's continuous success. All the Best.

Unknown said...

Thanks a lot for your kind words Suro.

Unknown said...

Dear Swami,

I am sure you would be able to relate very well on how excited I must have been :-) It is the seed we all sow when we were in Mumbai! Remember, you, Arif and me visiting Tarabhai for the very first time? :-) That was the very first step of DI da :-)

Take care.


Unknown said...

Dear Ritu,

Thanks a lot for your kind words. With the support of many like minded individuals like you, we should definitely see DI 2020 very soon.


Unknown said...

Dear Sarvendra,

Thanks a lot for your kind words.


Unknown said...

Dear Sriram,

Thanks a lot for your wishes and kind words.


Santhosh said...

Wow Kalakkal Nataraj. All the best.

ராஜ நடராஜன் said...

I am glad to click and read DreamIndia.I will comeback once again to get into the roots of other links.

maveriq said...

No doubt that meeting the prof. is a great experience. Thanks for sharing your exp. and all the best for your efforts in DI.


It made a nice reading !

AparnA said...

I am really inspired by this blog.. is there any way i can meet the people?