A children's President...

CHILDREN'S DAY OUT: The youngsters have a moment to remember with President, APJ Abdul Kalam. Photo: R.V. Moorthy.  

IT WON'T be wrong to declare that President APJ Abdul Kalam has a way with children. Not to mention children being special invitees to his swearing-in ceremony at the Rashtrapati Bhavan and his "particular interest in meeting kids" whichever place he visits, the two-day First Child Summit inaugurated by him in Delhi this past week witnessed him as yet another `Chacha Nehru' fervently interacting with the little citizens with complete bon homie. In simple, easy tongue, he mentioned to hundreds of children listening to his speech in pin-drop silence, the names of great Indian scientists like C.V. Raman and Chandrasekhar and how their long years of perseverance and undying curiosity bore fruit, etching their names in the sands of time. Referring to his recent visit to the North-East, he shared with the young assemblage his interactions with children of the region and their interesting questions to him.

"I always interact with children wherever I go, for through them one would know what's lacking in our system," said the first citizen. The father of the Indian nuke science continued, `So children, always keep in mind that thinking is progress. There are three components of success - curiosity; thinking and perseverance".

"More workload has not killed anyone so far but less of it has surely rusted many a brain. Excel in one of the subjects at least. Question everything, never agree," he egged on as Delhi Chief Minister Shiela Dikshit, Congress leader Salman Khurshid among many other prominent names watched him with interest.

Digesting each of his words, many a child started scribbling down the prose of advice. Observing that, he, causing a roaring laughter from one and all, added at the end of his speech, "Kids, do not note down what I said. Before coming here, I posted my speech at my Internet site". Those who rushed to him after his speech were told: " Here, I can't speak to all of you. So, please log on to my site and chat with me. I shall wait". A thrilled rush of excited kids returned to their seats, saying, we will speak to him on Internet.

Well, after his short attendance in the inaugural session, which included cultural programmes by kids as young as five-year-olds, continued the second half of the two-day summit, jointly hosted by Delhi Public School Society; the Great Indian Dream Foundation and The Hindustan Times-PACE. Experts in the field hammered out a charter to be submitted to the President after discussing diverse topics in five sessions. Issues like `Excessive workload is the root cause of intellectual corruption among students'; `Our examination system has succeeded in recognising real talent; `Our society has instilled a sense of national pride among young people' and `Our current curriculum is encouraging creativity among students' sparked off debates by panellists including Salman Khurshid, GIDF founder Arindam Chaudhari, advertising personality Suhel Seth and quiz master Siddartha Basu among others.

While the day one curtained down with a dance drama, "Akhir Kyon" performed by underprivileged children, the second day ended with Children's Carnival at DPS, R K Puram.