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Monday, 12 July 2010

"Dreams are those that don’t let you sleep"

ISRO today has successfully launched the indigenous PSLV C15 satellite from Satish Dhawan Space Centre at Sriharikota, overcoming the debacle of April. Every successful launch from ISRO brings to the fore, the technological advances the country is making in the field of space research. This also brings back memories of a personal experience shared by former president of India, Bharat Ratna Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam.

"Dreams are not what you get when you are in sleep, dreams are those that don’t let you sleep."

I have heard many people quote this over the last few years, and have read it as being attributed to at least half a dozen people, including Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam. I don't know where this quote first originated, but I am one of those blessed few who have heard it direct from Dr. Kalam himself.

It was February 2007, convocation of the Visvesvaraya Technological University for the 2006 batch of engineering graduates, and having secured a rank in Computer Science and Engineering, I had got an invitation to attend the convocation at Jnana Sangama, Belgaum. Chief Guest was the then President of India, Dr. Kalam.

Post the convocation ceremony, while addressing us, the young engineers of India, Dr. Kalam recounted an inspiring story from his very early days at ISRO. Through the years 1975 to 1980 ISRO was building up to launch India's first Satellite Launch Vehicle, SLV-3. By 1979, Dr. Kalam was leading a team of six that was directly in charge of the SLV-3 project, and despite numerous roadblocks, the team was working relentlessly towards the target of launching the rocket in time.

When stage 2 of the SLV-3 became a failure after a successful execution of stage 1, pressure had mounted on the team to bring out their best to achieve successful completion of stages 2 and 3 to ensure India's entry into the elite league. Dr. Kalam and his colleagues worked without considering the time of the day, for endless hours, in their quest to succeed. During these days, he said that there were many days where they had left the work place at 12 at midnight and had come back at 2 in the morning, to resume action. Nobody in the team cared for a lunch break, a decent sleep, or even a sip of coffee or tea. They were all living their dreams. It is in this context, that Dr. Kalam made the remark highlighted above. Truly inspiring words, coming from an inspiring man.

To complete the story, thanks to all the hard work, on July 18, 1980, SLV-3 had a successful liftoff from SHAR, Sriharikota. Soon after, his colleagues lifted Kalam and carried him in a procession on their shoulders. This marked another stepping stone towards India's achievements in space research.

A few snaps from the VTU 2006 batch convocation, Belgaum (click for larger versions):

A stunning life size painting of Dr. Kalam that was presented to him on the occasion. We were not allowed to use cameras during the president's presence, so this was as close I got to getting his picture (It is another story that Dr. Kalam literally "escaped" from his security to spend time with us, shake hands and give little pep talks. The security personnel had a hard time keeping up with the mercurial genius):

Jnana Sangama all set to welcome the president:

On stage, with my rank certificate: :)


Dr Satendra Singh said...

Great occasion to unleash another great blog from your rich armory.We have few unmatched parallels and here's another one. Dr APJ Kalam was chief guest at my MD convocation at Rohtak. I missed too clicking snaps coz of security concerns and surprise surprise, our college presented him same huge painting. Is it a common thing with APJ? The legend in turn gifted our medical college few books for our library.

And yeah...your last pic is fabulous.

Prasanna said...

Yes Situ, Similarities are quite intriguing indeed. I think Dr. Kalam gifted the painting back to our university. I guess the painting must still be there at the VTU headquarters at Belgaum.

And, thanks for the complements :)