Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam: Former President of India
  Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam    
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Inaugural Address at the Asia Pacific Conference on "UNIVERSAL HARMONY THROUGH REVERENCE FOR ALL LIFE"

06-12-2002 : Vigyan Bhavan, New Delhi
Unity of Minds

I am indeed delighted to inaugurate the Asia Pacific Conference on " Universal Harmony Through Reverence For All Life". I wish to congratulate the organizers of this conference and participants from various parts of India and abroad. When I saw the subject " Universal Harmony Through Reverence For All Life", I was asking myself, what will be the components of such a mission? Will it consist of education system to generate enlightened citizens? That means, a combination of learning and value systems. This process can take place for twelve years during a child's education. This covers one third of the population at any point of time in our country. The second important component will be the religions graduating into spiritual movement. Third and most vital component is the poverty eradication by attaining economic prosperity resulting in high employment potential. Now the question we have in front of us is, will it eliminate the international terrorism? Will it eliminate the cross border terrorism? Will it remove the communal clashes? Above all, will it remove the violence in mind and body? Peace of the Individual, thereby peace in the family, peace of the nation and thereby peace of our planet earth will emerge as given in the poetic divine message.

Where there is righteousness in the heart

There is a beauty in the character.

When there is beauty in the character,

there is harmony in the home.

When there is harmony in the home.

There is a order in the nation.

When there is order in the nation,

There is peace in the world.

Friends, we can see a beautiful connectivity between heart, character, nation and the world. This is indeed the purpose of human creation, that is divinity.

Now with this background I would like to share with you that "Universal Harmony Through Reverence For All Life" will come only through four missions which humanity has to take-up. What are they?

1. The human thinking in harmony with the dynamics of the universe.

2. Creation of enlightened citizens

3. Religion transforming into spirituality

4. The poverty elimination

1. The human thinking in harmony with the dynamics of the universe.

When I am in the midst of the elite gathering here, I recall a question asked by a school boy and girl recently during a personal interaction. The question was from Vikrant Nahal Arya of Sanskriti School and Rupanjali Lahiri of St Thomas School, New Delhi, They asked me a very simple question which led me to think. The question was : " Your birthday has recently gone by. What were your thoughts on that day?." They wanted to know what my birthday meant to me. I replied, for me, I had completed 71 orbits around the sun, and had entered my 72nd orbit. Think of our Universe. I am amazed and always inspired by the dynamics of our universe. Our star (sun), its planets, every celestial object has a purpose. If the Earth stopped rotating around its axis, what would happen? No earth, no night, no day. If Sun does not orbit, sun will not be there. I told them that the sun also orbit around the Milky Way. It takes 250 million years for the sun to complete one orbit around Milky Way, our galaxy. Compare that to my 72nd orbits. I asked them what it meant. One single citizen completing 71 orbits. It is an insignificant event, compared to the dynamics of universe. But human mind is innovative and can think and explore the marvels of universe. That was the reply I gave to the young school children.

The whole universe and milky way orbits in harmony. That is why there is human life in this planet. That is why there are plants and animals in this planet. When the whole universe can orbit in harmony, why the human creature created by the nature could not be in harmony with nature ?


2. Creation of enlightened citizens

The best part of a person is his or her childhood in school and the best time spent is 0800 Hrs to 1600 Hrs in the school. The prime learning environment is 5th to 16th years' of age. A student spends approximately 25,000 hours in the school campus. Of course at home, love and affection are imparted but again most of the time in a day is spent in preparing school's homework and study, eat, play and sleep. Hence the school hours for children are the best time for learning and need the best of environment and mission oriented learning with value system. During this stage, they need value based education in school and at home for them to become good citizens. This reminds me the echo from Bestolozzy, a great teacher's saying, "give me a child for seven years. Afterwards, let the God or devil take the child. They cannot change the child." For parents and teachers, school campus and home have to have an integrated mission: education with value system. If the child misses the value based education in the school, no government or society can establish a transparent society or a society with integrity.



a. Universal mind

I would like to recall an incident which happened four decades ago. As you all know, Prof Vikram Sarabhai is the visionary of space programme in the country. He is well known for his cosmic ray research area that led to evolving the space research programme for the nation. Both Dr Homi Bhabha and Prof Vikram Sarabhai were looking for a site to establish space research station in the equatorial region. These two great scientists visited a number of places. Thumba in Kerala was selected by the scientific community for space research as it was near the equatorial region and was ideally suited for ionospheric research in upper atmosphere apart from study of atmospheric structure. When Prof Vikram Sarabhai visited Thumba, the locality had series of villages and thousands of fishermen folk were living in that area. It also had a beautiful ancient church, St Mary Magdalene Church, Pallithura and a Bishop's House. Prof Vikram Sarabhai met many politicians and bureaucrats to get the place for the work of space science research. It did not move further because the nature of the place. He was asked to see the Bishop of Trivandrum, at that time in 1962, His Excellency Rct Rev Dr Peter Bernard Pereira. It was a Saturday when Prof Vikram Sarabhai met the Bishop. The Bishop smiled and asked him to meet him the next day, ie Sunday. In the morning Service, the Bishop told the congregation, "my children, I have a famous scientist with me who wants our church and the place I live for the work of space science research. Dear children, science seeks truth by reasoning. In one way, science and spiritualism seek the same divine blessings for doing good for the people. My children, can we give the God's abode for a scientific mission?" There was a chorus of 'Amen' from the congregation and the whole church reverberated. Subsequently, the big event took place in 1962. His Excellency Rct Rev Dr Peter Bernard Pereira, the Bishop of Trivandrum, took the noble decision to dedicate the church in recognition of the national goal for the establishment of the Indian Space Research Organisation at Pallithura, Thumba. That was the church where we had our design centre, started rocket assembly, design of filament winding machine for FRP product and the Bishop's house was our scientists' place. Later, the Thumba Equatorial Rocket Launching Station (TERLS) led to the establishment of Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC) and multiple space centres throughout the country.

When I think of this event, I can see how enlightened spiritual and scientific leaders, all converge towards giving reverence to the human life. New church and new schools were established in record time. Of course the birth of TERLS and then VSSC gave the country the capability of design, development and produce world class huge rocket system and subsequently, India has the capability of launching geo-synchronous, sun-synchronous and meteorology spacecraft, communication satellite, remote sensing satellite thereby provided fast communication, weather forecasting and also locate water resources for the country. Today, among us, Prof Vikram Sarabhai is not there, Rev Dr Peter Bernard Pereira is not there, but those who are responsible for creation and make the flower and blossom will themselves be a different kind of a flower as described in the Bhagwat Gita: "See the flower, how generously it distributes perfume and honey. It gives to all, gives freely of its love. When its work is done, it falls away quietly. Try to be like the flower, unassuming despite all its qualities". What a beautiful message for all generation of this nation, on integration of minds and universal mind.

b. Noble Thoughts

On one occasion, as I was leaving for Bangalore for a lecture, I spoke to my friend and told him that I would be talking to young people and whether he had any suggestions. He did not offer any suggestions as such but offered me the following words of wisdom. " When you speak, speak the truth; perform when you promise; discharge your trust?. Withhold your hands from striking, and from taking that which is unlawful and bad?.

" What actions are most excellence? To gladden the heart of a human being, to feed the hungry, to help the afflicted to lighten the sorrow of the sorrowful and to remove the wrongs of injured?

"All God's creatures are His family; and he is the most beloved of God who tries to do most good to God's creatures."

He said, these are the sayings of Prophet Mohammed. My friend who told me this is a great-grandson of Deekshidar of Tamil Nadu and Gnanapathigal ( Vedic scholar ). Such an outlook is possible only in our country where many of our enlightened citizens go beyond their own religion and appreciate other religions also. This is a state of spiritualism a nation has to cherish.

Let us remember the Rig Veda: " Aano bhadrah kratavo yenthu vishwathaha." That is ," Let noble thoughts come to us from every side. "

C. Message from Tawang

I would like to share with you another important message which I experienced very recently, when I was visiting Arunachal Pradesh. I happened to spend a day in a Tawang Monastery, which has 400 year old history, located at an altitude of 3000 meters - a beautiful spiritual environment. There, I met a gathering of monks, students, teachers and political leaders. I saw bright young faces with an urge to learn with creativity. A unique message was echoing in the Monastery. It looked to me that the message was part and parcel of students and teachers community. What is that message? I was asking myself. Who can enlighten and explain the message? I sought the help of the chief of the monks at the Tawang Monastery. I asked, 'Your Holiness, can you explain the message, with your vast experience of in this Monastery, the most important part of learning - particularly in the present environment of our country". The respected Buddhist Monk told me, "India is a nation of peace. India lives as a spiritual and peaceful nation. The peace should engulf our nation. This monastery spreads: when you remove "I" and "ME" from your mind, you will eliminate ego; if you eliminate ego, hatred towards fellow human beings vanish; If the hatred go out of our mind, violence will not spring from human mind and then peace and peace and peace will blossom. I bless my nation". This divine message was born in Tawang Monastery.


4. The poverty elimination

After 50 years of progress, the aspirations are mounting that India should become a developed country. This is the second vision for the nation. How we can prepare ourselves to this challenge?

To become a developed India, the essential needs are (a) India has to be economically and commercially powerful, at least to be one of the four top nations in terms of size of the economy. Our target should be a GDP growth of 9% annually and that the people below poverty line to be reduced to near zero. (b) near self-reliance in defence needs of weapon, equipment with no umbilical attached to any outside world. (c) India should have a right place in world forums. Technology Vision 2020 is a pathway to realise this cherished mission.

We have identified five areas where India has a core competence for an integrated action. (1) Agriculture and food processing - we have to put a target of 360 million tons of food and agricultural production. Other areas of agriculture and agro food processing would bring prosperity to rural people and speed up the economic growth. (2) Reliable and quality electric power for all parts of the country. (3) Education and Healthcare - we have seen, based on the experience, education and healthcare are inter related. (4) Information Communication Technology - This is one of our core competence. We believe, this area can be used to promote education in remote areas and also to create national wealth. (5) Strategic sectors - This area, fortunately, witnessed the growth in nuclear technology, space technology and defence technology. Other areas like Advanced Sensors and Materials would need a push. The nation has a plan towards 70% near self-reliance in a decade in defence equipment.

These five areas are closely inter-related and would lead to national, food, and economic security. A strong partnership among the R&D, academy, Industry and the community as a whole with the Government departments will be essential to accomplish the vision.



Reverence for life is indeed possible in real sense if a philosophical thought of reverence can be transformed into actions by empowering various components of the society. When the child is empowered by the parents, at various phases of growth, the child gets transformed into a responsible citizen. When the teacher is empowered with knowledge and experience, good young human beings with value systems take shape. When individual or a team is empowered with technology, transformation to higher potential for achievement is assured. When the leader of any institution empowers his or her people, leaders are born who can change the nation in multiple areas. When women are empowered, society with stability gets assured. When the political leaders of the nation empower the people through visionary policies, the prosperity of the nation is certain. When religion transforms into a spiritual force the people become enlightened citizens with value system. I once again thank the organizers for organizing this important conference on " Universal Harmony Through Reverence For All Life". May the Almighty bless you. Thank you.




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