THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Finally, there came that moment when the audience gets to grill Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam.
``You see, they tell me Ive to catch a plane. So I�ll take three questions from the first three students who come up to the stage. Fast, fast...,�� the former President hurried, not without a sly chuckle.
The next moment, there was a mad scramble forward. The short, rather jumpy youngster who got to be in front of the queue began, ``It�s been 60 years since Independence...�� but much to his chagrin, Kalam cut him mid-sentence, urging him to ask his question.
Second attempt was better, but rather cryptic in content. ``Sir, we don�t yet have what we want. Why is that?��
``First of all, you should know what you want. You should have a dream,�� Kalam said with a laugh, hustling the next questioner forward, who wanted to know when ISRO would top the list of space agencies.
The third questioner, a slim girl, wanted to know Dr Kalam�s views on ``over-competition.��
The venue was the inaugural function of Conscientia 2010, the annual technical fest of the Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology (IIST), ISRO�s academy for moulding future space scientists at Veli, near here.
Expanding on the theme �What I will be remembered for,� Kalam urged the future rocket scientists to take up engineering and technology as the mission of a lifetime. The 21st century will be a knowledge-based one offering multiple opportunities, he said, observing that ``What worked yesterday, won�t work today.��
He emphasised the need for establishing a ``societal grid�� consisting of Knowledge Grid, Health Grid, e-Governance Grid and the PURA Grid for accelerating economic growth.
ISRO Chairman K. Radhakrishnan had a pointer for one IIST student who aspired to be an astronaut ``of India.�� Healthy, agile and alert individuals stand a chance to be in that elite club, Radhakrishnan said.
``Initially, we can take only one or two,�� reminded Kalam.
IIST director B.N.Suresh presided over the function.
The festival, which will be on till March 7, will feature astronomy, robo-tournaments, gaming, telescope-making and ethical hacking, among other events.