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Former President A P J Abdul Kalam’s address leaves audience spellbound at IIT Bombay Techfest

The final day ofabdul_kalaam ended with crowds divided between the two highlights of the day–the finale of Robowars and former President A P J Abdul Kalam’s address.

While the footfall of the entire event was recorded to be 65,000, Kalam’s talk alone attracted more than 3,000 people, while several others were left dejected due to the lack of space.

Apart from daily events such as the flight simulator and Oculus Rift, which continued to attract people from all age groups, lectures by mathematicians Manjul Bhargava and Subhash Khot were packed, while more than a 100 engineering aspirants were left out due to lack of space.

Bhargava, who won the Fields Medal last year, was felicitated by the Prime Minister at the Indian Science Congress on January 3. After delivering a talk on mathematical symbols in ancient India, Bhargava said ancient sciences and mathematics with evidence should find its way into textbooks.

When asked to comment on Captain Anand J Bodas’s talk on ancient Indian aviation technology at ISC, which had attracted a lot of criticism from other scientists, Bhargava said, “I haven’t read his work so I wouldn’t be able to comment on his work. But I’m sure if there is a firm belief then there can be a discussion on the topic.”

Despite a delay of over an hour, the audience sat through it all until the final duel between robots at the Robowars. Despite suffering damages, the team from PVPIT Pune made a hattrick at the competition. With a prize of Rs 2 lakh, the winning team beat the Mobile Robotic Club from Malaysia.

“It took us over two months to build this robot. We are proving ourselves for the third time in a row. We have taken a lot of loan and most of our prize money will go in repaying that,” said Amrut Pandit, one of the four teammates.

Simultaneously, Kalam’s speech, addressing 2,500 people directly and about 500 others through TV screens outside the convocation hall had everyone listening in rapt attention.The topic of Kalam’s speech was `World vision 2030 Empowering 3 billion people’.

He explored different aspects of furthering the economic growth of the country and appealed to the young engineers in the crowd to take up the mission to promote solar power. “We have to get India away from the limited fuel supply and towards solar power. India, as an emerging economy, has a per capita energy consumption of 565 kg of oil equivalent and in order to reduce that, there should be solar power in the 200 million households,” he said.

He urged entrepreneurs to create rooftop solar panels since rural India has ample rooftop space and save on petrol and diesel. “The youth should become ambassadors for the solar power mission for the country,” said Kalam.

He also explored the idea of reducing the gap between the rural and urban people in order to resolve conflict between society and nation in a timely manner. “We need out of the box ideas to help reduce this gap. The only solution is empowerment of the three billion people in rural India, which will promote inclusive development, peace and shared prosperity,” he said.


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