Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam: Former President of India
  Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam    
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06-12-2004 : New Delhi
Can media be the partner in National Development?

I am delighted to participate in the Award Ceremony for Recognizing Excellence in Journalism 2004 organized by the International Press Institute (IPI), India Chapter. My congratulations to award winner the NDTV and greetings to noted Editors, publishers, academicians, columnist, writers, media specialists and distinguished guests. I would like to share with you my thoughts on the topic "Can media be the partner in National Development". Media has to know the dreams and aspirations of our people, particularly the youth of the nation.


The profile of Developed India before the year 2020

Developed India is a Nation where the rural and urban divide has reduced to a thin line. A Nation where there is an equitable distribution of energy and quality water. A Nation where agriculture, industry and service sector work together in symphony, absorbing technology thereby resulting in sustained wealth generation leading to higher employment potential. A Nation where education is not denied to any meritorious candidates because of societal or economic condition. A Nation which is the best destination for the most talented scholars and scientists all over the world. A Nation where the best of health care is available to all the billion population and the communicable diseases like AIDS/TB, water and vector borne diseases, Cardiac diseases and Cancer are extinct. A Nation where the governance uses the best of the technologies to be responsive, transparent, easily accessible and simple in rules, thereby corruption free. A Nation where poverty has been totally alleviated, where illiteracy and crime against women are eradicated and where the society is unalienated. A Nation that is prosperous, healthy, secure, peaceful and happy. A Nation that is one of the best places to live in, on the earth and brings smiles on a billion plus faces.


Present Economic Scenario

In the Indian history, very rarely we have come across a situation, all at a time, an ascending economic trajectory, continuously rising foreign exchange reserve, global recognition of technological competence, energy of 540 million youth, umbilical connectivities of 20 million people of Indian origin in various parts of the planet, and the interest shown by many developed countries to invest in our engineers and scientists including setting up of new R&D centers. The priorities of the Government emphasize on economic development by ensuring growth rate of 7% to 8% annually, enhancing the welfare of the farmers and workers and unleashing the creativity of the entrepreneurs, business persons, scientists, engineers and other productive forces of the society. Also a dynamic technology powered dynamic media is in place.

This is the time the nation has to focus all its technological and financial growth towards the Vision, Vision of transforming India into a developed nation before 2020. Media can definitely become a great partner for promoting this Vision, as it played its role during the independence movement 1857-1947.

Hence, I thought of highlighting two vision components - one is India 2020 Mission and the other is PURA (Providing Urban Amenities in Rural Area) programme.


Our National Mission - Challenges

Our nation is going through a major challenge of uplifting of 260 million people who are below the poverty line and also to give better life for many millions who are on the border line of poverty or just above the poverty line. They need decent habitat, they need work with reasonable income, they need food, they need health care, and they need education and finally resulting into a good life. Our GDP is growing at more than 6% per annum on an average. Whereas, the economists suggest that to uplift the people from below the poverty line, our economy has to grow at the rate of 10% per annum consistently, for over a decade.

Integrated action: To meet the need of one billion people, we have the mission of transforming India into a developed nation. We have identified five areas where India has a core competence for integrated action: (1) Agriculture and food processing (2) Reliable and Quality Electric power, Surface transport and Infrastructure for all parts of the country. (3) Education and Healthcare (4) Information and Communication Technology (5) Strategic sectors. These five areas are closely inter-related and if well done would lead to food, economic and national security. Another important mission linked to national development is PURA.


PURA (Providing Urban Amenities in Rural Areas)

Nearly 700 million people of India live in the rural areas in 600,000 villages. Connectivity of village complexes providing economic opportunities to all segments of people is an urgent need to bridge the rural-urban divide, generate employment and enhance rural prosperity. The essential needs of the villages today are water, power, road, sanitation, and healthcare, education and employment generation.

Essential Connectivities through PURA: The integrated methods, which will bring prosperity to rural India are: the physical connectivity of the village clusters through quality roads and transport; electronic connectivity through tele-communication with high bandwidth fiber optic cables reaching the rural areas from urban cities and through internet kiosks; knowledge connectivity through education, vocational training for farmers, artisans and craftsmen and entrepreneurship programmes; these three connectivities will lead to economic connectivity through starting of enterprises with the help of banks, micro credits and marketing the products.


Some Development Initiatives

As you may be knowing number of development ventures are taking place in different parts of the country. Some of them are Periyar PURA in Thanjavur district of Tamil Nadu, BAIF - (Bharatiya Agro Industries Foundation) in Gujarat, Project Siruthuli in Coimbatore, Seed Cotton Productivity in the Village Nava Pind of Punjab, Synergy Mission for Environmental Upgradation in Punjab and the Electricity Generation through Municipal Waste in Hyderabad and Vijayawada of Andhra Pradesh. I will discuss the details of these projects and the results achieved so far, since the media needs to know the silent changes that are taking place.


Periyar PURA

Recently I had visited Periyar Maniammai college of technology for women and inaugurated a PURA Complex. I thought of sharing with you the developmental concept of a cluster of over 60 villages near Vallam, Thanjavur district of Tamilnadu which involves a population of 3 lakhs. This PURA complex has all the three connectivities - physical, electronic and knowledge - leading to economic connectivity. The centre of activity emanates from the women engineering college that provides the electronic and knowledge connectivity. Periyar PURA has health care centres, primary to post graduate level education and vocational training centres. This has resulted in large scale employment generation and creation of number of entrepreneurs with the active support of 850 self-help groups. Two hundreds acres of waste land has been developed into a cultivable land with innovative water management schemes such as contour ponds and water sheds for storing and irrigating the fields. All the villagers are busy in either cultivation, planting Jatropha, herbal and medicinal plants, power generation using bio-mass, food processing and above all running marketing centres. This model has emanated independent of any government initiative. The committed leadership has been provided by the Engineering institution. This gives me the confidence that PURA is a realizable proposition and this movement can be multiplied by thousands of entrepreneurs, educational administrators and philanthropic institutions with the support of the government agencies.

Similarly, I have visited other tribal villages in south Gujarat and there another model of PURA has succeeded through the BAIF and Gujarat Government combination.


A typical PURA for Tribal Rehabilitation & Semi-Arid Regions (BAIF)

Food security and self-employment with good income is crucial in tribal and semi-arid regions. I would like to share with you an integrated village cluster development model. In these regions every summer the tribal people migrate to nearby towns. BAIF - (Bharatiya Agro Industries Foundation) has introduced a model in two villages with peoples? co-operation and the participation of state authorities. Firstly water harvesting was undertaken to get water for every individual. Every home was provided with livestock and also a market for milk. Simultaneously, fruit orchards were established with various fruit crops such as cashew and mangoes, which are tolerant to drought. When I visited, these villages, there was a connecting road and water ponds. The tribal population, with radiant smiles on their faces, was harvesting crops, packaging and carrying milk to different supply points. I happened to see the economic growth and prosperity of the tribal people, which has been facilitated by BAIF with people?s participation. I understand that this model Vadi (Orchard) has now been replicated in many places by the state governments in the Deccan and Desert regions. If such actions are multiplied in a reasonably synchronized manner, then locally generated wealth will increase and create new economic opportunities, thus creating greater income and prosperity levels. Now I would like to discuss about the project Siruthuli aimed at large scale rain water harvesting, Aforestation, sewage / waste water treatment and solid waste management at Coimbatore.


Project Siruthuli

This is an initiative started by Coimbatoreans for Coimbatoreans. This ecological project aims to bring back the glory of Coimbatore and its rich heritage. The project is represented by people from all walks of life and professionally organized. The primary focus is on large scale rain water harvesting, aforestation, sewage / waste water treatment and solid waste management. They have already standardized five of the nine primary tanks in Coimbatore for large scale rainwater harvesting. Over 600 saplings have been planted on the bunds of the desilted tanks and are being maintained. They are moving towards a target of planting 15 lakh trees by the end of 2005. The comprehensive study has indicated outlet of the city sewage as 10 million litres per day. A pilot plant is being taken up for sewage treatment to treat one million litres per day. The treated water will be sold to the agriculturists and industrialists as a revenue earning measure. The garbage and debris to the extent of over 26,000 cubic meters in one of the city?s largest tank have been removed. These are the major achievements for developing a growing city. The next project I would like to talk to you is on improving the productivity of wheat and cotton through a co-operative movement in Bihar and Punjab where farmers, agricultural scientists and industrialists are partners.


Agricultural Productivity Improvement

Wheat Productivity: There have been successful experiments carried out by TIFAC team in Bihar, where per hectare output of wheat has been tripled by farmers in collaboration with agricultural scientists through scientific methods. As a result, the earnings of the participating farmers have remarkably improved. Such experiments can be replicated in many parts of our country, carefully tailored to local conditions. This is a crucial socio-economic need.

Seed Cotton productivity: Textile industry is very important for the Indian economy. The basic raw material is cotton. India is the third largest producer of cotton in the world. However, compared to the world average of 700 kgs of seed cotton per acre we produce only 350 kgs of seed cotton per acre. It is indeed a technological concern for the nation. Shri Oswal of Vardhman group, adopted the village Nava Pind in the northern region brought out a cooperative movement of the farmers, scientists, trainers and the industry and launched cultivating cotton of over 1200 acres. A training programme was launched for farmers starting with soil characterization, matching the cottonseed to soil, water and fertilizer management. They were also trained on proper application of fertilizer and pesticide during the seeding and growth process in the right season and proper irrigation techniques to enhance the productivity of cotton.

The project resulted in increasing the average seed cotton yield of the village from 450 KG per acre during the year 2002-2003 to 950 KG per acre for the year 2003-2004, that too at a considerably reduced investment. This led to the increase in net return per acre in the village from Rs. 2400 per acre to Rs. 17,000 per acre (a seven times increase in return). This model can be replicated many cotton growing regions in the country and India can definitely produce 25% of the total world production compared to the existing 12%. This single village model has already been replicated in ten villages with very good results towards improving the productivity of cotton uniformly in all the villages. If this model is implemented in the entire cotton belt, it has the potential to generate wealth of over Rs. 25000 crores a year for the nation and also generate millions of employment opportunities for the youth. In the next example I am narrating the experience of a societal mission of improving the environment through the cleaning up of Kali Bein rivulet in Punjab.


Synergy Mission for Environmental Upgradation

The status of environmental cleanliness is one of the indicators of development of a nation. As a nation, we have to keep our environment clean and tidy including all our places of worship and rivers. I am delighted to learn the Kali Bein rivulet, the place where Gurunanak Dev is said to have received enlightenment and which had over the centuries turned literally into a sewage ridden, weed choked drain, is today flowing clean and proud due mainly to the efforts of Baba Balbir Singh Seechewal in partnership with the Punjab State Government. From the discussions, I understand that he organized people's participation in stopping the massive flow of sewage into the Bein and cleaned 160 km long polluted and choked rivulet within the last three and a half years by deploying on an average 3000 volunteer workers per day. Today one can feel the flow of fresh water in this rivulet released from the Tarkina Barrage by the government about a year ago. The revival of the rivulet has recharged the water table as the hand pumps that had became dry for the past 4 decades are now pumping out water. Baba not only did the cleaning up operation by clearing Bein from the weeds and hyacinth, but also built bathing ghats at five places. He also built more than 100 km long kutcha road on the bank of the rivulet.

While I was thinking how we should solve the problem of improving the environment of rivers and religious places, I find one of our enlightened citizens has taken the initiative and demonstrated the power of ignited individuals to solve societal problem. Let this model spread in all the places of divine worship and inspire the pilgrims to participate in the divine task of clean environment in water and air. "Thousands of such local initiatives are needed for making our country green." Finally I would like to talk about producing electricity through municipal waste which has three-fold advantages. The scheme improves the environment, releases hectares of land occupied in dumping municipal waste and augments electric power to the grid.


Electricity Generation through Municipal Waste

Increased urbanization has led to a serious problem of accumulation of municipal solid waste. Efficient and environmentally clean disposal of garbage has always been a major technological challenge. While being a threat to the environment, mounting garbage is also a rich source of energy. The potential for converting this waste into useable energy, which will eliminate a major source of urban pollution, was realized by one of our innovative organizations- Technology Information Forecasting and Assessment Council of DST which helped in developing a completely indigenous solution for the processing of waste into a source of fuel. This fuel could, in turn, be used for generation of electricity through mini plants. Two entrepreneurs in Andhra Pradesh adopted the technology with refinement and established two independent plants in Hyderabad and Vijayawada generating over 12 megawatts of electricity which is being supplied to the State Grid. India needs thousands of mini power plants using municipal waste. Industrial sector can provide the thrust for promoting creation of such power plants in major municipalities as first step in collaboration with banks and non-governmental organizations.

These are some of the examples of rural development projects which can be promoted by the industry with the active participation of banks for upliftment of the 700 million people living in our villages. There are similar possibilities in water, habitat, infrastructure, ICT, Agriculture and many more. Once the industries get committed in all these sectors in a proactive manner, I am sure the path to development will be much smoother and our realization of development will be much faster.


Positive movements

I have some interesting responses to my reaching out to the people through the media. I would like to share a few of them with you all here today. The oath administered to the children on 2004 Republic Day Eve broadcast has resulted in motivating the Kutch Ecology Foundation, who have made the entire Kutch district green within the last 10 months. I hear similar efforts taking place in southern part of India as well.

Two students of Velammal Engineering College Lakshmanan and Gayathri have written to me how they succeeded in developing a new paradigm of CD reading using nano antennas instead of conventional laser reading systems after hearing my talk on nano sciences and technology. They have presented their paper in IEEE Nano 2004.

Likewise my talk on stem cell for treating visual defects resulted in a lot of queries from various quarters which I directed to Dr.Taraprasad Das of L.V. Prasad Eye Institute for advice and treatment. This is the power of the media and it demonstrates how it can bring about positive change for betterment of society.


Digitizing 100 years of Media

Our Media is one of the oldest, unconstrained and possibly the most responsible in playing an active role in being the conscience keepers of the nation. The heritage and the history of News Media has many lessons not only for the students and practitioners of Journalism but also for every one of us. Somehow, the preservation of our past newspapers and their archiving have not been in tune with technological advances ? particularly those in scanning, OCR, storage and retrieval. The Digital Library across the country and elsewhere in the world had been focusing on digital preservation of our cultural heritage, manuscripts and books. Time has come for the Journalists and media barons to create a Digital Library that has all the news papers, magazines and Radio and TV programmes ever produced by this country in all languages since the beginning. Today this is possible and affordable and India can show the way to the rest of the world by making an inter-operable open archive . The next generation would be ever grateful to you and will remember you, if you do this.


Aspirations of the Billion and the media

Now we are in the mission of transforming India into a developed country by the year 2020. This mission needs the participation and contribution from every citizen.

The vehicle for carrying forward this mission should be the Indian media in all its forms viz. print, radio, television and internet in multiple languages. We all know that the media is today concentrating on 300 million people who are living in the urban areas. But I visualize that Media should become, Media for one billion people. It must reflect the thoughts and aspirations, trials and tribulations, problems and solutions of the 70% of population who are living in the villages. My suggestion for the media would be that they should capture the development activities taking place in different parts of the country especially in the rural areas and disseminate through various channels which will enable the common man to appreciate and understand the benefits of certain projects for the region. Media has to spread achievements of good and successful individuals and teams. I would suggest that article on scientific achievements written by reputed science writers be published in two pages at least once in a week. If it is continuously done they will be able to emulate and apply the techniques in their region. I am looking for such intense partnership from the media in this mission.

The young journalist should be the visionaries for inspiring our people to contribute towards national development. The media space and time must be fully utilized to bring out the best to the viewers and readers which can enable them to take right decision in selecting the development route pertaining to their area and region.


Missions for media

In the present development context of the nation I would like the media to take up the following missions for immediate implementation.

1. A Media movement: Developed India by 2020.

2. Media becoming a development partner in the programme of PURA (Providing Urban amenities in Rural Area) ? connectivity is the focus.

3. Celebrating every aspect of the success of the nation, from any part of the country.

4. Evolution of corruption free India before 2010. Particularly, I have started a movement of administering an Oath among the youth which states, ?I will lead an honest life free from all corruption and will set an example for others to adopt a transparent way of life.?

5. Promoting an enlightened society, which means education with value system, transforming religion into a spiritual force and building economic prosperity of every nation based on its core competence. For this mission, a unique world body is essential.

6. Media should bring honor to the womanhood.

7. Scanning and digitizing all old issues of the print media since its establishment and store in a digital library to preserve our national heritage and make it available for research.



A nation without a vision is just like a ship in the ocean without an engine for powering and sails (Rudder) for direction. Fortunately, India?s youth power is the engine that gives the thrust to the movement towards growth. The media can certainly give a positive direction for development by becoming the multiple sails of the ship.

The International Press Institute with its media members may motivate every newspaper and electronic channel in our vast country to transform our nation into the profile of Developed India as discussed. This is the mission which has to be done unitedly by the entire media organisation. They have to use the special communication skill unique to each region and language. My congratulations to NDTV for receiving the IPI- India Award for Excellence in Journalism and my best wishes to all the participants for successful partnership in developed India mission.

May God bless you.




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