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President to ‘jolly good’ professor
- Kalam makes DU debut

New Delhi, Dec. 22: A.P.J. Abdul Kalam’s inbox will soon have emails from 90 anxious students, eager to make an impression on a man who till recently was the country’s President but is now their teacher.

Kalam today took his first lecture as an “adjunct professor” at Delhi University’s faculty of management studies, and immediately gave them an assignment. His course, for final-year students, is titled “Economics, Technology and National Development”.

Kalam has asked the students to email their replies to five questions on “creative leadership”, the topic of today’s lecture. The next class is on January 8.

He spoke to the class for an hour, sharing his experiences with Vikram Sarabhai and Satish Dhawan, the founders of India’s space programme.

The blackboard remained unused, and Kalam chose the old-fashioned system of handing out notes to students over slide shows or other forms of technology.

“We’ve always heard he’s a jolly good fellow. Now we know why,” said Abhishek Tripani, a student in charge of handling media queries.

Kalam spoke of the linkages between religion and science, Tripani said. “He told us about how Sarabhai inaugurated the space programme at a church in Kerala.”

He also spoke about leadership, citing an example when a project he was in charge of had failed.

Kalam was project manager for the first satellite launch vehicle in the mid-1970s. It never reached orbit, plunging into the ocean instead.

“He told us he felt miserable at the time, but Sarabhai, who was his boss, took complete responsibility for the failure. They continued working and a year later, India had its satellite in space,” Tripani recalled.

A group of students from the Lahore University of Management Studies and another team from South Korea, in Delhi to participate in a sports meet, also attended today’s lecture.

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