Reviewed by ASIF ANWAR ALIG
Three motivations in Forge Your Future by late Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam, as cover page mentions, express book’s theme—a candid, forthright and inspiring book. With distinction of being the first of its kind to be titled through online vote before publication, interactivities between author and his admirers motivated him to pen this book. His unswerving email interactions with millions of young Indians took the shape of the book under review.
This lifelong teacher breathed his last on 27 July 2015 while addressing the students of Indian Institute of Management Shillong in India’s Meghalaya state. Reply to some thirty emails from an average 300 Dr. Kalam used to receive daily, this book stimulates all. Sections Preparing for Success; Creating a Better Society; Empowering Women; Building a Strong India and Competing with the World etc. cover decisive aspects pertaining to young generations to think beyond today.
Reply of thirty selected emails from countless Dr. Kalam received since decades this book inspires budding minds to think rational. His archetypal answers have no whims. They insist for implying practicality in life. Take for example his perception on ‘Process’ which instigates to perceive and think about certain events or happenings in life. He logically explains that to attain success to change the way one literally ‘process’ situations or events, and in this verge transform the thinking levels. Perceive problems accordingly to find an appropriate solution.
Dr. Kalam emphasized that youngsters must think to manifest their dreams. He caveated though that translating dreams into reality wasn’t easy. One is bound to face the obstacles and must overcome them with determination and discipline. He cites his own example that he could have hardly achieved his goals without a disciplined lifestyle.
Sharing some finest mantras Dr. Kalam insisted why goal setting is crucial for disciplined life. He insisted that one must set goals for self in the areas of specialization for appreciation and to work the level best to achieve them. Equally did he believe determination a source of power to make it easy for everybody to overcome the obstacles through willpower?
Success is final destination in life but failures shouldn’t be considered setbacks. They are just intermittent blockades during attaining success and therefore must be unreservedly welcomed. Conviction brings definite win so long as one courageously faces challenge of accepting negative situations. One need not fear for anything if face difficult situations. Give spirituality a room with determination which can ease achieving something meaningful in life. He believed that ‘courage must be showcased by heart and adapted in character’ because it is crucial to build personalities.
He foresaw the political dynamics of growing societies. It is the role of the common masses to take essential measures to elect appropriate visionary leaders to run the nations. Citizens are bound to play the pivotal role to stand up against wrongdoings. They can keep an eye on the injustices happening around them.
A message for the future generations the author insisted that one must have courage to dream for better future even if encountering tough phases. Courage awakens individual potentialities even in hopeless situations. Loopholes won’t dominate if one gains ability, dreams for good and firmly commits for action. With self-confidence and determination one achieves goals. He logically defines how to build confidence: “if you think you can do something, then you can actually get it done. And, if you think you cannot do it, you will not be able to do it.”
Dr. Kalam re-imposed religion & spirituality as much important as science. Religion helps to focus on final outcomes because there is a connection between science and spirituality. Those with faith in religion attain power for attaining inner knowledge. Eventual success is bound to come through firm beliefs. Anybody with creative bent of mind is bound to be motivated by the desire to achieve goals rather than unnecessarily urging to beat the counterparts.
He provided an example of his own life in the concluding chapter from his days of struggle. It transformed his personality into a touchstone and still inspires millions—“I opted for vegetarian meals at the school canteen instead of the non-vegetarian meals which I had been used to at home, since that meant a saving of three rupees every week. Though I came from a small place, I never felt small in anyway and always had big dreams. I lived in a single pair of clothing and shoes, wearing them for as long as was possible. Only when the first pair of clothing and shoes would be completely worn out, would I get a new set. In 1954, when I decided to enroll for Aeronautical Engineering at the Madras Institute of Technology, my sister had to sell two of her gold bangles to pay for my admission fee.” With such honest confessions he motivated youngsters to make better future with their willpower and self-determination.
He wrote what he actually lived. His experience of attaining success was an accomplishment of a lifetime. Based on his ideals he advised for four proven steps to gain success as a person to be remembered—by age of twenty years one must define life’s aim; keenness and passion to acquire constant knowledge through studying life changing books and associating with the teachers or personalities who are true mentors; one must follow disciplined lifestyle to do good efforts and fulfill dreams. Last but not the least one should preserve and persist on the chosen path.
He always valued time, resources and mindsets and opined that social media was an important tool today. Its emergence proved vital source of communication as it created innovative means to mobilize public opinions for overall growth. It resultantly encouraged people’s participation in socio-political activities by engaging youths. It is a healthy sign for mature democratic practice.
Philosophy of life lies in practicing righteousness and simplicity, said Dr. Kalam. No matter what situation we confronted in life we had ample scopes to choose right or wrong paths. Choosing a right path leads to obtain sustainable stamina for action we do as it would be based on a principle of righteousness. Those going on wrong path are destined to fail in the absence of any heavenly power. Such inspirational quotes were practicalities of his life. He has pointed out many aspects like emphasizing to lead lives in situations of encountering unaccountable challenges pertaining to health, finances, education, oppressions, abuses or transgressions and relationship et al. One must choose a right path instead of delving into something wrong that brings temporary relief.
He argued for “religion historically been a most important factor in the family cohesion of human societies.” Take for example many laws pertaining to human societies like the laws of marriage, divorce and those to rear children having been transmitted from several existing religions. He condemned societies which disrespected women and believed that as God created men and women equal anybody disrespecting or harming women were actually disrespecting the creator.
While arguing that life has rewards in the form of success for those having determination in life, Dr. Kalam cited his own example—“during the days of World War II, when I was ten years old and living with my family in Rameswaram, there was scarcity of most food items and articles of daily use. Ours was a large joint family with five sons and five daughters, three of whom had their own families. My mother would be up at four every morning, then wake me up, help me bathe and get dressed to go to my teacher, Shri Swamiyar, for learning mathematics. I would return home from tuition at five thirty and my father would be waiting to take me to the Arabic school to learn Namaaz and the Holy Quran. After that I would go to the Rameswaram Road Railway Station, located three kilometers away, to collect a bundle of newspapers thrown out from the passing Madras-Dhanushkodi Express. I would pick up the bundle and run around Rameswaram distributing newspapers in the town. By the time I would reach home after distributing the newspapers, it would be eight o’clock and my mother would give me breakfast. I was simultaneously studying and working. In the evening, after school, again I would go around Rameswaram to collect dues from the customers to whom I had delivered the newspaper in the morning.” Such is the appealing message we receive from his life for us to introspect.