A person of exemplary calibre and fierce patriotism, former President Dr. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam embodied the best of what an Indian can aspire to be. Let us look at one of his most memorable addresses titled, 'My vision for India'.

On May 25, 2011, Dr APJ Abdul Kalam gave one of his greatest speeches at the IIT Hyderabad campus, titled 'My vision for India.’ His simple and self-explanatory inaugural address for the IIT TechFest outlined his aspirations for his motherland and highlighted the need to increase meaningful public participation in nation-building activities.

A man of action

One of India's most celebrated scientists Dr. Kalam was an aeronautical engineer by training. His 1998 project The Technology Vision 2020' was an action plan that sought to achieve economic growth through technological development, with special emphasis on facilitating agriculture and increasing the accessibility and quality of healthcare and education. During his tenure as the 11th President of the country(from 2002 to 2007), India's 'missile man, as he was popularly called in the media, promoted the advancement of the national nuclear weapons program, and under his leadership. India developed strategic missiles like 'Agni and Prithvi' and tactical missiles like 'Aakash' and Thrissur’.

Even after the end of his official term Dr Kalam's passion for education and societal transformation came to the forefront in his addresses across various cross-sections of society from school children to policymakers.

His visions for India

"In 3,000 years of our history, people from all over the world have come and invaded us, captured our lands and conquered our minds... Yet, we have not conquered anyone. Because, we respect the freedom of others, and this is why my first vision is that of freedom. I believe that India got its first vision of this in 1857, when we started the war of Independence. It is this freedom that we must protect and nurture and build on." (an excerpt from My vision for India)

Dr Kalam sought the freedom that nurtured creativity and independent thinking. Freedom that instilled the courage to stand one's ground against all odds. He wanted India to be confident in its identity, and progress towards becoming a developed nation, self-reliant and self-assured.

"We have been a developing nation for fifty years... my second vision for India is development. (an excerpt from My vision for India) In his public addresses, he often asked his audiences to repeat the dictum "Dreams transform into thoughts and thoughts result into action". He really believed that the day we as citizens recognised our duties towards the development of our nation (dismissing all the personal biases) and joined forces to work towards identifying and meeting the needs of 'all' India will truly become developed.

"I have a third vision. India must stand up to the world. Because I believe... Only strength respects strength. We must be strong not only as a military power but also as an economic power. Both must go hand-in-hand." (an excerpt from My vision for India) He ends his speech by echoing J.F.Kennedy's words to his fellow Americans to relate to Indians... Ask what we can do for India and do what has to be done to make India what America and other western countries are today." (an excerpt from My vision for India)


  • Born in a humble household of Rameswaram, Tamil Nadu, Dr. Kalam distributed newspapers as a 10-year-old to supplement his family's income.
  • Dr. Kalam was the project director of the SLVIII, the first satellite launch vehicle that was both designed and produced in India.
  • Dr. Kalam was fondly called People's President because of his simplicity and love for his countrymen.
  • Dr. Kalam was the first Asian to be honoured with Hoover Medal. America's top engineering prize for outstanding contribution to public service on April 29, 2009
  • In 2012, Dr Kalam launched a campaign called What Can I Give Movement, to develop a "giving" attitude among the youth and to encourage them to contribute towards nation building by taking small but positive steps.

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Austrian biologist Karl Landsteiner (1868-1943) is mostly known for his pioneering work in the classification of blood groups. However, he was also responsible for many other discoveries in the field of medicine that have helped improve immunity and health.

Born in Vienna, Karl lost his father at an early age and was brought up by his mother. After his schooling, he studied medicine at the University of Vienna and later took up research in the field of organic chemistry. He worked under many renowned chemists of the time. During his research at the Institute of

Hygiene in Vienna, Karl became interested in the   mechanisms of immunity and the nature of antibodies. He soon published his first article on serology- the study of blood.

At the time, blood transfusion was considered risky as it led to fatal blood clotting in the recipient's body. Landsteiner was the first to suggest that blood transfusion may be unsuccessful because an individual's blood might not be compatible with that of another. In 1901, he classified blood types into three groups-A, B and C (later called O). This enabled donors and recipients to match their blood types before transfusions.

A few years later, guided by his work, the first successful blood transfusion was carried out by a doctor in New York. During World War I, the lives of many soldiers were saved due to transfusion of compatible blood.

Landsteiner was also instrumental in the discovery of the polio virus. It was earlier believed that polio was caused by a bacterium. With the help of bacteriologist Erwin Popper, Landsteiner not only proved that polio was caused by a virus but also traced the manner of its transmission. Their discovery made possible the development of a vaccine for polio.

Later, when he moved to New York, Karl teamed up with noted biologist Alexander Wiener to identify the Rh (rhesus) factor that relates human blood to that of the rhesus monkey. The Rh factor, which occurs when the mothers  blood is incompatible with that of the foetus, was believed to be responsible for a fatal infant disease.

Landsteiners discovery of blood groups and studies on the subject earned him the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1930.

Though he was much sought-after as a world authority on the mechanisms of immunity, Landsteiner shunned publicity and preferred a quiet life away from the public gaze. On June 26, 1943, he died following a coronary seizure, while still at work in his laboratory.

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Rabindranath Tagore's artistic genius endeared him to millions around the world. A man of prodigious literary and artistic accomplishments, Tagore is recognised as one of the architects of modern India. Let us look back at his iconic last public address, "Crisis in civilisation".

Despite his failing health, Rabindranath Tagore attended his 80th birthday celebration in Visva -Bharati. Shantiniketan, West Bengal, on May 7, 1941. His public address for the occasion titled 'Crisis in civilisation' was not only his last speech in his beloved university, but also his last public pronouncement. His parting message to the world dealt with the state of modem civilisation and how it had been shaken to its foundations by war and oppression.

Tagore's activism

Tagore's involvement with various issues pertaining to social reform began quite early in his life. By the time the poet turned 20, he had already authored several essays commenting on the burning issues of the day. The writer's engagement with the idea of nationalism changed throughout his life.

In the first decade of the 20th Century, Tagore emerged as one of the strongest proponents of the Swadeshi movement. The years leading up to the movement came under the writer's pro-nationalism phase.

He withdrew from the movement in 1907. His work during this period showcased his disillusionment with the ideology of the nation and the Indian nationalist movement as a whole.

What is a nation?

The late 19th Century witnessed the idea of a nation emerge in the Indian consciousness. It was chosen and propagated by Indian intellectuals and political activists to invigorate a sense of unity among the citizens. At the time it was seen as a necessary tool to fight against the colonial forces.

But Tagore fiercely denounced this idea. He felt a nation-state was only a representation of organised power and had a mechanical function.

The nation as a machine

Tagore argued that a nation fundamentally prioritised commercial expansion and economic profit over humanity and moral values. The poet elaborated how this western idea was the reason our people and natural resources were exploited in the first place by the European invaders.

His thesis on the topic asserts that the mechanisms of a nation transform men into one-dimensional units of machinery whose purpose in life is limited to the creation of surplus wealth at the expense of the weak.

The nation as a machine, fine-tuned for profit-making, disturbs the spirit of harmony which is the quintessential feature of Indian history and culture.

Crisis in civilisation

Tagore began his address by commenting how old age is a time for reflection and recollection. Looking back at the vast stretch of years that lay behind him, he finds himself shocked by the change in his attitude and that of his countrymen.

Even at his weakest moment, Tagore was anguished by the state of the country as he said. "The wheels of fate will one day oblige Englishmen to give up their Indian empire. But what kind of a country will they leave behind them? What stark wretched misery?.... What wasteland of filth and hopelessness?" (an excerpt from Crisis in civilisation)

The writer recalls how educated Indians of his generation who studied English literature and liberalism once foolishly believed in the magnanimity of the English, and their idea of enlightenment. He utilises this opportunity to announce that the West has failed in establishing itself as the emissary of light and knowledge, and now all hope lies with the East.

"As I look around I see the crumbling ruins of a proud civilization strewn like a vast heap of futility. And yet I shall not commit the grievous sin of losing faith in Man...Perhaps that dawn will come from this horizon, from the East where the Sun rises. A day will come when unvanquished Man will retrace his path of conquest, despite all barriers, to win back his lost human heritage" (an excerpt from Crisis in civilisation) According to Tagore, the defining feature of Indian civilization which we are on the verge of losing is sympathy. Referring back to the ancient text of Manusmriti and the idea of 'sadachar (proper conduct), he suggests that the Indian interpretation of the word civilization has always sought to establish a relationship with the world not through the cultivation of power but through fostering sympathy. To attain true liberation, Indians must first become aware of their heritage and the spirit of India, which has been suppressed by the wholesale acceptance of western education.


1. Tagore was the first non-European to win the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1913.

2. Tagore was the founder of Visva-Bharati, a public central University, located in Shantiniketan, West Bengal,

3. The preface of Tagore's most acclaimed work, Gitanjali, was written by another great poet of the 20th Century. W.B. Yeats.

 4. On 14 July 1930, Rabindranath Tagore visited Albert Einstein's house in Caputh, near Berlin. Their conversation was recorded and published as "The Nature of Reality" in the Modern Review magazine's 1931 January issue.

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"I Am Prepared to Die" is the name given to the three-hour speech given by Nelson Mandela on 20 April 1964 from the dock of the defendant at the Rivonia Trial. The speech is so titled because it ends with the words "it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die".

April 20, 1964, saw Nelson Mandela, a 45-year-old member of the anti-apartheid movement, testify at the Pretoria courtroom as part of the Rivonia Trial. In his defence statement, the young lawyer declared that freedom and equality were the ideals for which he was prepared to die.

This speech became the rallying cry of the masses that shook the apartheid regime and set Mandela on the path to becoming the country's first democratically elected president 30 years later.


Apartheid was the most extreme kind of racism that the world witnessed. It started from 1652 when the Dutch East India Company landed in the Cape of Good Hope and established a trading colony in what is now known as Cape Town. This was a rest stop for ships travelling between Europe and India.

The Dutch colonists went to war with the natives to establish their control. This ultimately led to the creation of a new set of laws to enslave the aboriginals. When the British took over the Cape colony, the descendants of the Dutch settlers trekked inland and developed their own language, culture, and customs eventually becoming the Afrikaners, the first white tribe of South Africa.

The fall of the British Empire saw the Afrikaners claim South Africa for themselves. But to sustain their supremacy over the country's restless black majority, they needed new stringent laws. A formal commission was set up and an expedition was sent to different parts of the world including the Netherlands, Australia, and America with the purpose of studying institutionalised racism and its application. The government used this knowledge to build the most advanced version of racial oppression ever created.

Apartheid (means 'apartness in African language) was a police state, a system of surveillance meant to keep the black people under control. This policy was in place for nearly 50 years.

The art of persuasion

Most leaders are known for their rhetoric. Philosopher Aristotle lays emphasis on the art of persuasion through speech in his treatise on the subject. According to the philosopher, the true means of introducing change in a society can only be accomplished by deliberative rhetoric. A deliberative speech focusses on the future rather than the past or the present. Here the speakers present their audience with a possible future and try to encourage them to lend their support to their vision.

What cements the appeal of this kind of persuasive speech is the use of ethos (credibility), logos (logic and reason), and pathos (emotional connect), and Mandela's speech is an excellent example of this.

The appeal of Mandela

1 am the First Accused I hold a Bachelor's Degree in Arts and practised as an attorney in Johannesburg for several years in partnership with Oliver Tambo. I am a convicted prisoner serving five years for leaving the country without a permit and for inciting people to go on strike at the end of May 1961. (An excerpt from the speech "I am prepared to die”) By beginning his defence statement with an announcement of his educational qualification and contribution to the anti-apartheid movement, Mandela established his credibility. He took full responsibility for his actions and the disruption they led to. His demeanour exuded confidence in himself and in the cause he was fighting for.

"…The complaint of Africans, however,  is not only that they are poor and whites are rich, but that the laws which are made by the whites are designed to preserve this situation" (An excerpt from the speech "I am prepared to die")

This part of the oration justified the need for a movement against a government that used racial segregation as a weapon to divide society. His sincere dedication to the struggle of the African people and his willingness to sacrifice himself for the fundamental principles of freedom and equality made him a man of mythical proportions.

"I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die. (An excerpt from the speech 7 am prepared to die”)


  • Mandela's birth name was Rolihlahla Mandela. The name Nelson was given to him by his primary school teacher.
  • In August 1952, Mandela and Oliver Tambo established South Africa's first black law firm, Mandela and Tambo.
  • July 18 is celebrated as Nelson Mandela International Day each year.
  • As the first black president of South Africa, Mandela took it upon himself to unite the country that had been divided along racial lines. According to him, sports like rugby promoted unity and fostered national pride.

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Arthur Conan Doyle was a famous British author. Arthur Conan Doyle is known all over the world as the creator of one of the most famous fictional characters in English literature, the master detective Sherlock Holmes. Among all the fictional characters that have survived time, Sherlock Holmes is perhaps the most legendary. The shrewd detective has inspired films, TV shows and countless literary adaptations and analyses. Over 2,500 adaptations had come out by the 1990s alone.

 But he was much more than the originator of modern detective literature. He was a man of many talents and pursuits: a medical doctor, multi-talented sportsman, prolific and excellent storyteller, keen patriot and a staunch imperialist, as well as a campaigner against miscarriages of justice.

Created by legendary British author Arthur Conan Doyle in his 1887 book, 'A Study in Scarlet’, Sherlock Holmes and his appeal lives on. An exhibition devoted to him is on at Princetown, a village in the Dartmoor National Park in the county of Devon in the UK. Opened in April, the exhibition that runs till June 6, contains photographs of Dartmoors brooding landscape, the setting for Doyle's iconic novel, The Hound of the Baskervilles', written in 1901. While visitors can check out the places mentioned in the book, they can also see the place where Doyle stayed while writing the world-renowned crime mystery.

May 22, 2022 marks the 150th birth anniversary of Conan Doyle, a doctor and writer who created memorable characters and situations that would lay the foundation for many a detective novel and film. An exceptional story-teller, Doyle's books are known to hold the complete attention of the reader.

Doyle had a difficult childhood, with an alcoholic father, who was absent throughout his life, but his mother was a loving presence, instilling in him a sense of curiosity and wonder.

After his education in medical school, Doyle started work as a doctor in an Arctic-bound ship. Though he continued medical practice on his return to England, he started writing novels to supplement his income. In 1887, at the age of 28, he wrote 'A Study in Scarlet, introducing to the world Sherlock Holmes and his devoted friend Dr. John Watson. It is believed that Doyle modelled Holmes character on his professor and mentor at medical school, Dr Joseph Bell, who had keen powers of observation.

Doyle's life changed greatly with the success of the novel and with each new novel, his fame spread far and wide. He gave up medical practice eventually and turned to full-time writing. However, despite his phenomenal success as an author, Doyle remained "simple, decent and compassionate”.

 During his writing career, Doyle wrote 21 novels and over 150 short stories. He also published non-fiction, including The Great Boer War (1900). The British Campaign in France and Flanders and The Crime of the Congo based on his military experiences. Though Doyle wanted to serve in the British Army during World War I. he was rejected because of his age (he was already 55). But he had served as a volunteer physician in the Langman Field Hospital at Bloemfontein during the Second Boer War in South Africa (1899-1902). He has also published essays, articles, memoirs and three volumes of poetry. Doyle left thousands of letters to the press, about 1,500 letters to his mother. Mary Doyle. and his friends and acquaintances. Doyle led an inspiring life, achieving success through his own efforts. In Doyle's own words: "We can't all strike very big blows, and even the little ones count for something."

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