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Guru Kalam Memorial Lecture
Guru Kalam Memorial event touches the hearts of many | 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.

BrahMos story inspires future Sarabhais, Kalams | 2018

‘BrahMos’, the fastest cruise missile in the world, developed in India, is not named after the legendary Brahmastra. On the contrary, it is an amalgamation of the names of two mighty rivers. It represents the might and ferocity of river Brahmaputra of India and the grace of river Moskva of Russia.

This was among the interesting nuggets of information shared by Dr S.K.Mishra, CEO of BrahMos Aerospace, at the third Guru Kalam Memorial Lecture and annual Inspired Indian Foundation (IIF) awards ceremony held on October 30, 2018 in Bangalore.

Following the welcome address by Dr Kota Harinarayana, chief designer of the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA), and who is the Patron of IIF, Chief Guest Dr S.K.Mishra held the audience spellbound with a presentation on BrahMos — both the organization and the supersonic cruise missile it has developed. In his talk, titled ‘Lock on to target’, Dr Mishra recalled the genesis of BrahMos Aerospace, a joint venture between Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO) and NPOM of Russia, and Dr Abdul Kalam’s contribution in helping to set it up.

After dwelling on the incredible capabilities of this supersonic missile, Dr Mishra also explained why it was important to acquire military might despite the general opinion that the money spent on acquiring military capabilities could be put to better use if it was diverted to providing food, clothing and shelter, especially in a developing country like India.

Admitting that he had posed the same question to Dr Abdul Kalam as a young scientist, Dr Mishra said Dr Kalam had underlined how important it was for a nation to be perceived as “strong”. “Strength respects strength”, and once the country’s military security was taken care of, it could concentrate on development without frittering away its energies on fobbing off attacks from pesky neighbours. Following Dr Mishra’s talk which was peppered with interesting anecdotes of Dr Kalam, the Inspired Indian Awards were given away.

The 3rd G Santha Teacher Memorial Journalism Award was given to Jugal Purohit, Senior Broadcast Journalist, BBC India for both his contribution to the field of journalism as well as his inspiring fight with —and triumph over — a serious health condition.

Wg Cdr P Ashoka (Retd), Test Pilot, a sprightly 84, was given the IIF Lifetime Achievement Award for his contribution to the field of aviation.
Mohd Asim, a little boy from Kerala born without hands, who is fighting for the school in his village to be upgraded to a higher secondary school was the next awardee.
Ravi Kambli, a tea-seller from Bidar who is now the proud owner of a hotel, was given the Inspired Indian award for his entrepreneurial spirit.
Murugan T V, who saved hundreds of lives during the recent Kerala floods despite his own house being washed away, won the award for his incredible selflessness and bravery.
The next awardee was Archana D S, a Karnataka Police Constable, who nursed and breastfed an abandoned baby. She was awarded the Inspired Indian award for going far beyond the call of duty. Sudarshan Shinde, a Mumbai Police Constable, who saved many lives during the Kamala Mills fire, risking his own life, got the Inspired Indian award for his extraordinary bravery.

S Satyanarayana, a Structural Engineer from Hyderabad, who went beyond his brief in designing the Guru Kalam National Memorial in Rameswaram and ensuring completion of the project in record time, without charging a single rupee for his effort, was the next awardee.

Manasi Joshi, an amputee and a national para-badminton player, who represents India at international events, won the Inspired Indian award for her exceptional grit and tenacity and the cheerfulness with which she bounced back from a life-altering episode.

The 10th awardee was a group — the young Team HTT-40 of ARDC, HAL, which is working on the Hindustan Turbo Trainer Aircraft-40 with single-minded devotion.
Sheik Saleem, grandson of Dr Abdul Kalam, congratulated the awardees on behalf of the House of Kalam. Abdul Azeem, an auto driver with a silken voice, whose talent was spotted by Inspired Indian Foundation, treated the audience to a melodious Kishore Kumar number. He was honoured by Dv Nagoor Roja, grand niece of Guru Kalam.

At the panel discussion that followed, the awardees answered question from the audience, especially students, who were rewarded with books from Indian Space Research Organisation. While the message from every awardee was inspiring, the most inspiring was the one from Jugal Purohit, who, on a personal request from Dr Mishra, detailed his fight with cancer and how he had won. His incredible positivity and the message he sent out — that cancer is not the end of the world — got thunderous applause.

Also inspiring was the message of Wg Cdr P Ashoka (Retd), who explained the value of discipline in life, especially to youngsters in the audience. Describing it as a “resolution to do what you must even if you don’t want to do it”, he said it is an all-embracing term which makes your life value-based, makes you do the right thing, and does not let you rest unless you do the right thing. Volunteers of the Inspired Indian Foundation were presented mementoes in recognition of their devotion to the cause.

The No 1 Air Force band kept the audience engaged with lively tunes and with its stirring rendition of the National Anthem.

(You can catch the entire proceeding of the event on Billion Beats YouTube channel by following the below links.)

Rakesh Sharma enthralls audience with stories from space | 2017

The second Guru Kalam Memorial Lecture and annual Inspired Indian Foundation (IIF) awards ceremony was held on October 11, 2017 in Bangalore. The lecture was delivered by India’s first and only man to have travelled in space, Wing Commander Rakesh Sharma (Retd). He spoke on the topic: “Dr A P J Abdul Kalam and His Relevance to Contemporary Indian Society”.

Theorising that successive failures lead to introspection, which eventually results in success, he said: “Failure is not the be-all and end- all of one’s life. When you keep failing you will introspect and change your approach, which will result in success.”

Boundaries exist only on earth. From space there are no boundaries visible, remarked the cosmonaut, sharing his experience of space travel.

Rueing the corruption plaguing the nation he said: “Back in those days society used to look down upon the corrupt and people used to hesitate to before taking money to do their work. But now it is the norm to take money and demand money to do work.”

Stressing on the importance of nation building, he said this should be accorded top priority today. We need to march towards progress with risk-taking, progressive and empathetic professionals, he added.

Pointing out that opportunities needed to be grabbed, he said: “I grabbed the opportunities I got. When I got a chance to be in space I took it. That has made a difference.”

Later, the Inspired Indian awards were conferred on people who have rendered yeoman service in various fields.

Rajeev Kumar Mishra of the Rajasthan Patrika was awarded the 2 nd G Santha Teacher Memorial Journalism Award.

Air Vice-Marshal Ajit Lamba (Retd) was the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award for his contributions to military aviation.

Former Director of CSIR-National Aerospace Laboratories Shyam Shetty was awarded the Inspired Indian Award for his contributions to the field of aeronautics.

Anthony Swamy, a cremator at the Kalpali Crematorium since 1988 and a selfless soul who performs the final rites of unclaimed bodies won the Inspired Indian Award for Social Service.

Harsha N, a victim of polio and a dedicated social worker who takes care of terminally ill patients got the Inspiring Indian Award in the field of Healthcare.

A P Sreethar, a self-taught artist from Tamil Nadu was conferred the award for Art and Culture.

Recognizing his contributions to the field of Badminton, U Vimal Kumar, Saina Nehwal’s coach who has represented India for 12 years as a badminton player, was conferred the Inspiring Indian Award.

In recognition of his dedication to his work, Rajesh A Armstrong was conferred the Inspiring Indian Award for Passion.

Noted Sarangi player Sarfaraaz Khan of the Kirana Gharana Music Academy was conferred the Inspired Indian Youth Award for his contributions in the field of music.

In recognition of her contribution to the field of classical dance, Kathak dancer Jayanthi M Eshwarputhi was awarded on the occasion.

Siddappa A Itagi, a teacher from Athani who has pioneered the concept of ‘Ekopadhya’ which practices "Ek Shikshak, Ek Vidyalaya" meaning "one teacher for every school” was awarded for his contribution in the field of education.

Recognizing their contributions to the construction of the Abdul Kalam memorial in Rameswaram, Ajay Singh and Bishwajeet Choubey were conferred with the Inspired Indian award.

Paintings by paratrooper Renjith C Thalavoor, Sheela Das, and eight- year old Avanthika, and doodles by Anupama Jaiswal were auctioned. Also on auction were a leather-bound biography of ace badminton champ Prakash Padukone — Touch Play — written by Dev S Sukumar, bearing the champion’s autograph, a badminton racquet and T-shirt of badminton champion Saina Nehwal. The proceeds went to charity.


Youngsters must not waste time on social media: Rakesh Sharma | #2GKML-1

I sat in the cockpit at the age of 6 and it captured my imagination: Rakesh Sharma | #2GKML-2

I would still love to take my Mom to Pakistan once: Rakesh Sharma | #2GKML-3

I was only 21, when I flew 21 missions during 1971 War: Rakesh Sharma | #2GKML-4

My Mother wanted me to be the best in what ever I did: Rakesh Sharma | #2GKML-5

We smuggled some 'Amrut' to space station: Rakesh Sharma | #2GKML-6

We had a guitar onboard Soyuz; I carried a cassette player: Rakesh Sharma | #2GKML-7

I came down in flames during a Math exam at NDA: Rakesh Sharma | #2GKML-8

As I grow older, I'm becoming emotional: Rakesh Sharma | #2GKML-9

When you've Tricolour on your arm, performance goes beyond potential: Rakesh Sharma | #2GKML-10

Journalist Rajeev Mishra & Aviator AVM Ajit Lamba (Retd) receives IIF Awards 2017 | #2GKML-11

Coffee with Cosmonaut | Rakesh Sharma in conversation with Dr Anantha Krishnan | #2GKML-12

Glance at 2nd Guru Kalam Memorial Lecture & Annual Inspiring Indian Awards | #2GKML-13

When you make in India, the world will respect you: Dr Kota | 2016

Inspired Indian Foundation (IIF) along with New Horizon College of Engineering (NHCE) organised the first Guru Kalam Memorial Lecture in Bangalore on October 15, on the 85th birth anniversary of the people’s President.

Dr Kota Harinarayana, father of the Tejas fighter jet programme, delivered the maiden lecture on the topic ‘Strength respects strength.’ According to him, India could overtake China and even Japan in the next 10 years by focusing on better quality and productivity.

‘’The Make in India mandate of the current government is encouraging. When you make in India, the world will respect you. We all should be bhakts of the nation, like Dr A P J Abdul Kalam was. Innovation is the key,” Dr Kota said.

He added that if academics, industry and R&D organisations joined hands, then India could make rapid strides in the field of technology. “We need to be ahead of others in developing smart networking platforms, artificial intelligence, sensors and software, which would directly lead to technological development. We are fast moving into a network-centric warfare (NCW) mode and it is important that the technology needed for this is developed within the country itself,” Dr Kota said.

Taking the example of India's Tejas programme, Dr Kota said that initially nobody believed that India could master many cutting-edge technologies in the process of developing the fighter.

Dr Mohan Manghnani, Chairman, New Horizon Education Institutions said Dr Kalam is not only remembered for his contribution to space and defence, but for his simple life.

“He walked the talk always and that set him apart from the rest,” Dr Mohan said. Renowned Bharathanatayam and Kathak dancer Jayanthi M Eshwarputhi, Dr Manjunatha, Principal, NHCE, Dr Sheelan Misra, Head of Department of Management Studies and members of IIF were present during the occasion.

A large number of young engineers from Hindustan Aeronautics Limited and Aeronautical Development Agency were also present.