“My parents named me after the Agni missile that Dr Kalam had developed. When I met him then, I told him that I wanted to make education something more practical and fun for children, and he told me that I should make it accessible for children from less privileged backgrounds. So in 2014, I started Ignite India, named after his book, Ignited Minds,” said Jayaprakash.
On World Student’s Day, falling on Dr Kalam’s birthday, Agniswar recalls that he had stayed in touch with the aerospace scientist through e-mail through his Presidency, and received encouragement and support from him. On the night before the one-year celebration for Ignite India in 2015, where Dr Kalam was the chief guest, Agniswar visited him for a meal.
“He loved tender coconut water. He told me that it had all the nutritious value of a meal, and that he preferred it to tea or coffee. He ate moderately. I remember telling him about my work, and he kept asking me about what my future plans were – when I’d go national, when I’d go international. He thought long-term, and he told me, “Would you like to make a billion rupees or do you want to impact a billion lives?” and I still think about that today,” said Agniswar.
In 2012, when Shoaib S Hameed was 13, Dr Kalam had visited Vel’s International School. Sitting in the auditorium and listening to his speech, Hameed asked Dr Kalam a question. “It was a stupid question – something about quantum physics. I was too young to learn it through class, but I was curious. Dr Kalam was so humble and approachable, so I felt that I could go ahead and ask. And the way he answered was so clear and so precise, and I understood the concept immediately,” said the material science student.
Hameed recalls that Kalam showed him that you just need to be yourself to be recognised and appreciated. At that age, I think I really needed to hear that,” he said.