Men come and men go but there are very few individuals who leave permanent footprints on the sand of history for generations to learn and follow. One such ‘Superman’ which India got was Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam. Materialistically, he lived a life of saint which remained unaffected by the change in his position and office. He was an engineer, technocrat, scientist, writer and foremost a teacher who dreamt of a Superpower India by 2020. Unfortunately, five years before 2020, he went on a journey to heavenly abode and left behind responsibility for all of us to work towards fulfilling his dream.
As it is said, reading and listening to the motivational stories of great personalities stimulates a motivational enzyme within all of us. And this is exactly what happened with Phani Kumar whose life’s trajectory got completely changed after he met Dr. Kalam in, 2008 in Sangareddy, where he delivered a lecture under the Lead India 2020 Movement
highlighting poverty and lack of quality education as two major roadblocks to the growth of the country. Phani recalls… “He made us believe that we young population has immense power to change the destiny of the country. He explained that if we work hard with a single-minded goal, we can altogether serve family, society, country and humanity.” “These words had an everlasting impact on me and this was the moment I decided that I want to work towards nation building” he added.
Due to parental and societal pressure, he had to enroll himself in Bachelors of Technology in CSE at SVIT College. But the desire to bring the change was unaffected by this, in fact at college. During his college days, he started going to government schools to teach the kids all the little knowledge he had. In the coming years, he founded Yuva Thirang, a non-governmental organization aims at working in proximity to the various cadres of Young India towards betterment on our nation’s humanitarian front. “The sole idea behind starting this was a conviction – as you sow, so shall you reap – highlighting the importance of individuals coming together and contributing their part while expecting “some big” changes from the time to come,” said Phani.
2015 was eventful year for him as well as for the rest of the country. It was on 27th
July 2015 that Dr. Kalam passed away while addressing at IIM, Shillong and 2016 was the time Phani enrolled himself in Development studies at NIT, Rourkela. He couldn’t complete
this course because of health issues which rose up due to climate change. This was the time he got to know about Dr.Kalam dreams. After his death, a FB post written by Srijan Pal Singh, who was with Dr. Kalam at IIM-Shillong, went viral. This post introduced Phani to Srijan Pal Singh, whom he considers as his mentor.
In 2016, a book called What Can I Give? Life Lessons from my Teacher, Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam written by Srijan Pal Singh was released. This book became Gita for Phani and Srijan Sir his Krishna. But the path to reach ‘Krishna’ wasn’t easy for this disciple. After constantly
emailing and messaging him for about a year, he finally got a reply. “I was overjoyed when Srijan sir gave me a call. I explained him about Yuva Thirang and the activities we have been conducting in Hyderabad. I also invited him for the inauguration of a 4,000
feet portrait of Dr. Kalam on 15th October 2017 in Hyderabad, which he happily accepted
” recalled Phani. On 86th
birth anniversary of Dr. Kalam, we unveiled the largest picture in the country of Dr. Kalam. This was entered in the Telugu Book of World Records and Telangana Book of Records as well.
Coming back to the What Can I Give Book, the book portrays an unfulfilled wish of Dr. Kalam. He wanted to open 100 free libraries as a birthday gift to his elder brother who turned 100 in 2015. “To fulfill this dream of Dr. Kalam, Srijan sir started the Kalam Library Project. The whole idea is to set up libraries in the remote areas so that underprivileged kids can get access to education” told Phani. He was so deeply touched by this initiative of Kalam Centre that he decided to do the same in Telangana. “I knew that it was a dream of Dr. Kalam that every child should have access to books but I wanted to go a step ahead and make Srijan sir proud of his team as well. And hence came the idea for Kalam Bharat
” recollected Phani.
Under this initiative, Kalam Centre and Yuva Thirang are giving over 800 undergraduate students will get a chance to disseminate the knowledge and impact the lives of over 50,000 school kids. “These students will be on a 15-week internship where they’ll be adopting a school and teaching the school kids on technologies of tomorrow like artificial
intelligence, nanotechnology, astrobiology etc
.” told Phani. This way they’ll be supplementing the school syllabus and imparting knowledge.
Whatever amounts the interns would be getting from crowdfunding, they’ll use it for a noble cause. Phani said, “After the end of the internship, all the interns will be using their Funds to open up a Kalam Library in their respective adopted schools. Not only this, this library is going to be named after their parents only and on the top of that, they are going to inaugurate this. In a way, this is going to be a token of gratitude to parents by their children.
” This program is expected to change the lives of over 50,000 school kids and intends to make them a ‘Kalam’.
As Dr. Kalam used to say the origin of the problems we face in the world today lies in our approach of “What can I take?” We should replace this with “What Can I Give?” When asked about his message to young minds out there, you want to build a better India, Phani said, “As Srijan sir always says, it doesn’t matter how many pages you fill in the book of your life; it only matters, how many pages you fill in other’s book. My message is that just remember your every small step towards betterment could be stepping stone for somebody else.
For his commendable contribution in making children better students, better citizens and hence better leaders of tomorrow, he has been shortlisted for the prestigious REX Karmaveer Global Fellowship and Karmaveer Chakra Award 2019. The award is instituted by the International-Confederation of NGO-(iCONGO) in partnership with United Nations. “I am extremely elated and would like to dedicate this to My Eternal Guru Dr.Kalam, My Guru and Mentor Srijan sir, Satish pendyla and my team” said overjoyed Phani.
Newscusp team congratulates Phani on for this award and wishes that he continues to work for the uplift of people.