New Delhi: The controversy over rewriting of history textbooks notwithstanding, former President A P J Abdul Kalam says fair research is needed in this regard and any such rework attempt should not be made by “people running the show” but by people of academic excellence.

He is also of the view that value-based education and proper parenting can help in curbing crime by juveniles.

Former President APJ Abdul Kalam. Reuters

Former President APJ Abdul Kalam. Reuters

“History books were mostly written by the rulers who ruled this country. So one must do research, fair research, and find what had historically happened,” he says.

“Books must be well researched and properly written. They should not be written by people who are running the show but by people of academic excellence,” the 83-year-old Kalam, who was India’s 11th President from 2002-2007, told PTI in an interview.

He, however, feels that books related to science and technology need to be updated frequently as new information is “coming everyday”.

“Science and technology has made great progress. A few decades ago, no one knew about Internet. But now we have to add that. Now a new type of communication is coming – 95 Ghz W band. So the syllabus has to be updated as technology changes, methodology changes,” Kalam, who was conferred with Bharat Ratna in 1997, says.

He has come up with a new book “Reignited: Scientific Pathways to a Brighter Future”, co-authored by his close aide Srijan Pal Singh. The book provides several nuggets of his life besides advice for young people on careers in areas like robotics, aeronautics, neurosciences, pathology, paleontology and material sciences.

On curbing crime by juveniles, he says value-based primary education, good parenting and knowledge from teachers are very important.

Kalam says that the biggest challenge for the scientific community is earthquake prediction. For this, an integrated team of geologists, material scientists, physicists, and remote sensing satellite experts, rock formation experts and oil exploration experts has to be formed.

“Research has to be done using multiple parameters. It has to be a combination of geology, physics, chemistry, mathematics and information technology,” he says.

“This is a big challenge. But going by the damage caused by earthquakes, research is very much essential. A multi-nation effort is required,” Kalam says.

Kalam, who came from a poor background, worked as a newspaper boy to complement his father’s income. He had some great teachers, who he remembers fondly.

One of them, Sivasubramania Iyer, he says, gave him an aim in life.

“One day, the topic of discussion in our class of 65 was ‘how birds fly’. He (Iyer) went to the blackboard and drew a sketch of a bird with a tail, wings and head and explained how a bird flew.

“The same day he took us to the Rameswaram seashore where we saw dozens of seabirds flying. My teacher said, ‘Look how the birds are flapping their wings, now see how they change direction using their wings and tail. What is the locomotive force behind this flight – it is the life energy of the bird’.”

The teacher told the students that the same principles make an aircraft fly and within an hour of the lesson, Kalam learnt how birds fly.

According to Kalam, that single lecture transformed his life and led him to make a profession out of his passion: rocket engineering and space flight.

‘Reignited: Scientific Pathways to a Brighter Future’, published by Penguin Books, is the result of a number of interactions the authors had with students, teachers, professors and other people across India and abroad.


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Rewriting history textbooks must be left to academicians, not the govt: Kalam