New Delhi | Late former President APJ Abdul Kalam’s inspiring and motivational message and minimalistic lifestyle forms the basis for a new art based web comic. A quote by the Missile Man of India from his 1999 autobiography Wings of Fire has been animated by Zen Pencils, online comic portal by Australia-based freelance artist Gavin Aung Than.
The comic begins with a depiction of a young girl whose passion for swimming is frowned at by persons of authority presumably her parents. Than introduces Kalam’s words intended to equip at least a few young people to stand up to the authoritarianism in society.
A characteristic feature of the authoritarianism in our society is its insidious ability to addict people to the endless pursuit of external rewards, wealth, prestige, position, promotion, approval of one’s lifestyle by others, ceremonial honours and status symbols of all kinds, Kalam wrote. To successfully pursue these goals they have to learn elaborate rules of etiquette and familiarize themselves with customs, traditions protocols and so on.
The youth of today must unlearn this self-defeating way of life, said the country’s 11th President. In his autobiography Kalam recounts how he, a poor country boy from the small town of Rameswaram went on to study physics, work his way through the ranks of the Defence Research and Development Organisation and then the Indian Space Research Organisation.
He visited NASA and the Goddard Space Flight Centre in the United States during the height of the space race. The scientist, aeronautical engineer and writer had during his 40 year scientific career pioneered India’s space missile and nuclear programmes.
Kalam was keen to pass on his learnings in living and achieving and growing particularly to the youth. Than writes that the late president was a deeply spiritual man and practiced what he preached, shunning material possessions and rewards. The comic juxtaposes Kalam’s words with a depiction of various pressures faced by today’s young people.
The culture of working only for material possessions and rewards must be discarded, Kalam wrote. Are you aware of your inner signals? Do you trust them? Have you taken control over your life into your own hands? Take this from me, the more decisions you can make avoiding external pressures, which will constantly try to manipulate you, the better your life will be, the better your society will become, the former President said.
In a note accompanying the comic Than writes about how Kalam dreamt of becoming a pilot and studied aeronautical engineering at the Madras Institute of Technology. While Kalam was devastated at not fulfilling his pilot dream he picked himself up and accepted a new path of life and went to work for the Ministry of Defence.
Life is a difficult game. You can win only by retaining your birthright to be a person, Kalam wrote. The final message of the comic reads, …and to retain this right, you will have to be willing to take the social or external risks involved in ignoring pressures to do things the way others say they should be done.
Than ends the comic with a depiction of the girl apparently taking control of her life and gleefully diving into a water body. Launched in the year 2012, the website Zen Pencils has featured artwork based on famous speeches, inspirational quotes and inspiring personalities. Besides Kalam other Indian personalities featured on the site previously include Rabindranath Tagore, Jiddu Krishnamurti and Mahatma Gandhi.
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