Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam: Former President of India
  Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam    
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17-12-2003 :  Kalavakkam,Chennai

Excellence in Engineering Education with moral leadership

I am indeed delighted to be here and address the Student community. My greetings to the Founder Shri Shiv Nadar, Principal, Faculty members and staff. I note, this College promotes excellence in Information Technology education, which is the core-competence

Starting an engineering institution in India, for me is not a big event for the reason, it is becoming a commercial venture for the management. In such a situation, Shri Shiv Nadar has founded this with an ardent desire to give back to the society that nurtured him. With this aim in view I am sure, the College is attempting to provide affordable education even to poor bright students.

The topic I have selected for this interaction is "Excellence in Engineering Education with moral leadership".

What can I do for you?

Every one of us has gone through the various phases of education from childhood to profession. A scene appears in front of me. A child, a teenager, an adult and a leader. How does each one react to a particular situation? The situation is human need. The child asks, "What can you do for me"? The teenager says, "I want to do it alone". The young person proclaims, "let us do it together". The leader offers, "What can I do for you". So, the principals and Faculty members have got a tremendous responsibility to transform a youth into a leader - the transformation of 'what can you do for me' to 'what can I do for you'. That will demand a Principal and Faculty members to be visionaries with an inspiring capability. Also the Principal has to ensure that Faculty members impart learning to the students in such a way as to bring out the best in them and for this, he has to be a good teacher himself. I am sure, the best of creativity among the students will emerge by integrated influence of principals, faculty members and parents on students.


Economic Growth in different societies

During the last century, the world has undergone a change from agriculture society, where manual labour was the critical factor to an industrial society where the management of technology, capital and labour provided the competitive advantage. Then the information era was born in the last decade, where connectivity and software products are driving the economy. In the 21st century, a new society is emerging where knowledge is the primary production resource instead of capital and labour. Efficient utilization of this existing knowledge can create comprehensive wealth of the nation and also improve the quality of life - in the form of better health, education, infrastructure and other social indicators. Ability to create and maintain the knowledge infrastructure, develop knowledge workers and enhance their productivity through creation, growth and exploitation of new knowledge will be the key factors in deciding the prosperity of this Knowledge Society. Whether a nation has arrived at a stage of knowledge society is judged by the way the country effectively deals with knowledge creation and knowledge deployment in all sectors like IT, Industries, Agriculture, Health Care etc.


Changes in employment, agriculture, Industry and Service-Knowledge Industries

In 1980, the agriculture area employed, in parts or in full, 76% of people of India and it reduced to 65% in 1994 and is expected to further fall to 60% by 2012. Whereas the demand of agricultural products will double in quantity, productivity using technology and post harvest management will have to compensate the manpower reduction in farming and agricultural products sector. In the case of industry, in 1980, 13% of the population was employed in small scale and large scale industries. The trend continued during 1994. However, it has to increase in 2010, as the GDP growth with high technology in the situation of opening up of the economy under WTO regime. The pattern of employment will take a new shape. Service with knowledge industry component from 11% employability in 1980 has increased to 20% in 1994. And further it will increase to 54% in 2012 in view of infrastructure, maintenance areas, financial sector, IT sector and entertainment demands. This big change will demand in all areas more trained skilled human power and technology personnel. Indian industrialists, commercial chiefs and technologists may have to get ready for such transformation in agriculture, industries and service - knowledge industries for which human manpower with knowledge and skills has to be evolved in a mission mode.

Low cost clean energy supplies linked to sea water desalination on large scale may provide an answer to the greening of the deserts and rekindling and revitalization of an agricultural economy. Low cost sustainable supplies of clean energy obtained from large scale use from solar energies would then commence a new era in the manufacturing economy.


Knowledge Society

As society transforms itself through education, health-care, agriculture and good governance, it has now to focus on resolving impending major crisis in the areas of energy, environment, ecology, water and mineral resources. While opportunities exist for markets upto 80 billion dollars by 2008 for knowledge-based products for India, by a careful planning it is possible to touch a target of even 150 B$ by 2010.

India has the core competence in ICT, Biotechnology, nano-technology, and also in the newer areas that arise due to the convergence between all of these, such as Integrated Intelligent Systems. I understand you are all specializing in Information and Communication Technology in SSN Engineering college, Chennai. How you can contribute for the nation building? What kind of nation does India want to build?

India transforming into a developed nation by 2020, is the vision of the nation. There is a road map, how to achieve this? There are five areas for simultaneous development: Agriculture and Food processing, Education and healthcare, Information and Communication Technology, Infrastructure development - including River network and self reliance in critical technologies.


a. Research and enquiry

The 20th century was for the generation of knowledge. The 21st century will be about the management of all the knowledge and information we have generated and give value to it. We must give our children, the skills with which they find a way through the sea of knowledge that we have created. Today, we have the ability, through technology, to really and truly teach ourselves and to become the life-long learners that any sustained economic and political development requires.


b. Creativity and innovation

We can best teach ourselves by teaching others. The management of knowledge in 21st century is beyond the capacity of individuals. The amount of information we must make sense of is overwhelming and has exceeded the capacity of individuals. The management of knowledge therefore must move out of the realm of the individual and into the realm of the society. We must learn how to manage knowledge collectively. In other words we must not only teach ourselves, but teach others.


c. Capacity to use of high technology

Every student in our colleges should graduate to know how to use the latest technologies for aiding their learning process. Colleges should equip themselves with the tools like hardware, software, laboratory equipments, internet facilities and provide an environment for the students to enhance their learning ability.


d. Entrepreneurial leadership

When the student goes out of this campus after graduation, they should have the confidence to start an enterprise individually or jointly. Entrepreneurship development should become a part of engineering education. The entrepreneurial leadership has three parts. First, problem finding and problem solving in the context of development. In second part, the entrepreneurs should have the willingness to take risk and be bold to do things differently. We must teach our graduates to take calculated risks for the sake of larger gain. The third part is the disposition to do things right. This characteristics will enable our graduates to become job providers rather job seekers.


e. Moral leadership

Moral leadership involves two things. First it requires the ability to have compelling and powerful dreams or visions of human betterment. A state of things in which human beings could be better off in the future than they are now. Secondly, where entrepreneurial leadership requires people to acquire the habit of doing things right, moral leadership requires a disposition to do the right thing and influence others also to do the right thing.


PURA - Providing Urban amenities in Rural Areas

The graduates passing out from this Institute can dedicate themselves to contribute to the mission of developed India 2020 by working in the PURA programme. This mission envisages creation of rural wealth and prosperity. The model envisages a habitat designed to improve the quality of life in rural areas and make special suggestions to remove urban congestion. Physical connectivity by providing roads, electronic connectivity by providing reliable communication network and knowledge connectivity by establishing professional institutions and vocational training centers will have to be done in an integrated way so that economic connectivity will emanate. The PURA has to be a business proposition economically viable and managed by entrepreneurs and small scale industrialists, as it involves education, health, power generation, transport and management. Government's support should be available in empowering such management agencies in providing initially economic support and finding the right type of management structure and the leaders to manage. The PURA scheme makes clusters of villages developed, in addition to maintaining rural beauty. For promoting national development one more important ingredient amongst us is the righteousness in all our activities.



Recently, I heard a hymn in one divine campus which I would like to share with you. The name of the hymn is 'Peace in the World':

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. How to inject righteousness in the human heart? This is indeed the purpose of human creation - that is divinity. We are going through a complex situation as many of us are completely at war with ourselves, with society and with nation. At every instant there is a war in our mind, whether we should go in one direction or another. Whenever there is a dilemma, we must seek the wisdom from the Almighty to lead us to the path of righteousness through education with value system.



Reverence for life is indeed possible in real sense if a philosophical thought of reverence can be transformed into actions by empowering different components of the society. When a child is empowered by the parents at various phases of growth, the child gets transformed into a responsible citizen. When a teacher is empowered with knowledge and experience, good young human beings with value systems emerge. When an individual or a team is empowered with technology, transformation to higher potential for achievement is assured. When a 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. There is a need to empower the younger generation to explore new avenues for making faster progress in the development mission. I am sure with your deep sense of enquiry, creativity and spirit of life long learning along with moral leadership you will be able to make the mission a great success.

My best wishes.




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