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


I am delighted to be here today with you, the young and vibrating minds of our nation, who have the potential of contributing constructively towards shaping a bright future and transforming India into a developed nation. To drive home this point, I would like to share with you a few experiences regarding "Inspirational and Visionary leadership".

The first phase of Indian science and technology after independence

All of you know, in history, any country resolves itself initially into a few stout and earnest and knowledge giants. Particularly I took interest to study lives of three scientists, as I was interested in their scientific technological leadership qualities that focused the relationship of S&T and development of the nation. In the history of India, there may be many but I was very close to these three great personalities for one way or other. They are founders of three great institutions. I worked in two of the institutions directly and one in partnership. Dr DS Kothari, a Professor in Delhi University was an outstanding Physicist and also an Astrophysicist. He is well known for ionization of matter by pressure in cold compact objects like planets. This theory is complementary to epoch making theory of thermal ionization of his guru Dr Meghnad Saha. Dr DS Kothari set a scientific tradition in Indian defence tasks when he became Scientific Adviser to Defence Minister in 1948;. The first thing he did was to establish the Defence Science Centre to do research in electronic material, nuclear medicine and ballistic science. He is considered as the architect of defence science in India. His race continued and followed up with momentum working and contributing in the areas of strategic systems, electronic warfare systems, armaments and life sciences.

Now, let me discuss about Homi Jehangir Bhabha . He did research in theoretical physics in Cambridge University. During 1930-1939, Homi Bhabha carried out research relating to cosmic radiation. In 1939, he joined Sir CV Raman in IISc Bangalore. Later, he was asked to start Tata Institute of Fundamental Research with focus on nuclear science, mathematical science and established Atomic Energy Commission in 1948. Multi centers were born with his vision in nuclear science to nuclear technology, nuclear power, nuclear devices and nuclear medicine. These science institutions established multi technological centers, but basic science is the vital component.

Prof Vikram Sarabhai the youngest of the three and worked with Sri CV Raman in experimental cosmic ray. Prof Sarabhai established Physical Research Laboratory in Ahmedabad with Space research as focus. In later years he become the Director of Space S&T Centre. The SSTC (1963) started with launching sounding rockets for space atmospheric research. His vision transformed into what is now the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) with multiple space technology centers. These centers are responsible for development and leading to launch of PSLV in the sun synchronous orbit. And this year, you have witnessed launching of GSLV in the geo-synchronous orbit with communication satellite.


Vision and the national development

These three Indian scientists, all of them physicists, started physics research institutions that blossomed into defence technology, nuclear technology and space technology. When I study deep into their knowledge and the vision, I believe they would have realized that science has to be pushed to political leaders. It is essential that technologies that give immediate benefits to the people directly or indirectly should be packaged and successfully put with our Indian political systems irrespective of which party they belonged. The three great institutions emerged with 20000 scientists spread in institutions all over the country. Another important message conveyed by these scientists is that basic science is very vital for growth of technology and growth of scientific technological leaders.


Marvels of Universe

Friends, we should note that human mind is a unique gift. You can enter into Marvels of Universe only if you have curiosity and thinking. I suggest, thinking should become your capital asset, no matter whatever ups and downs you come across in your life.

" Thinking is progress.

" Non thinking is stagnation to the individual, organization and the country.

" Thinking leads to action.

" Knowledge without action is useless and irrelevant.

" Knowledge with action brings prosperity.

Look at the sky. We are not alone. The whole universe is friendly to us and conspires only to give the best to those who dream and work. Like Nobel Laureate Subramaniam Chandrasekar discovered the black hole through a quest, why most of the stars shine and few die. Today, using Chandrasekar limit we can calculate how long the sun will shine. Like, Sir CV Raman looked at the sea and the sky, and questioned why the sea should be blue? This led to the birth of Raman Effect, he found the blue of the sea was due to the molecular scattering of light and was not a case of reflection of the sky in water as most people imagined. Like, Albert Einstein, armed with the complexity of the universe, asked the question how the universe was born. The famous equation E=mc2 arrived, which can be used for the generation of electricity using nuclear materials and also lead to nuclear weapons. In India during 1960's one important event took place, Prof. Vikram Sarabhai gave a vision for the nation on the space programme. He said, India should build her own rocket system, build communication and remote sensing satellites, integrate and launch from Indian space launch centers and put them into the geosynchronous orbit and sun synchronous orbit. Today India can build any type of rocket systems and satellite and launch in a specified orbit.



Mars, the fourth planet from the Sun, is more like Earth than any other body in our solar system. It has mountains and valleys, polar ice caps, and dry riverbeds. It has seasons, an atmosphere with clouds, winds and dust storms, and a solid rocky surface. Compared to all the other known planets besides our own, Mars also has a moderate climate- summertime temperatures at the Martian equator are comparable to those of winter in Antarctica! As a result, Mars is the only place other than the Moon that humans can think realistically about exploring.

The differences between Mars and Earth, however, are many. Mars is only half as large as our planet. Its thin atmosphere is comprised of about 95 percent carbon dioxide, with nitrogen and argon next in abundance. The sunlight that reaches Mars is only half as intense as that on this planet, and Mars' atmospheric pressure and density are about 100 times less than Earth's. These two factors combine to make Mars a very cold place--in winter it often falls to minus 118�C (minus 180�F).

I witnessed the spectacle of the red planet when it was closest to the earth in 29 August 2003. It was a beautiful sight in our night sky. Because it was so close to Earth and so bright, it makes an easy target for anyone who looks to the southeast after sunset. It is convincing that Mars will become a sought after planet for human exploration for wealth and habitat, in a few decades. New technological advances in space research, material science, and communication and transportation technology will make it possible. India's moon mission has to lead another purposeful mission to Mars.


What inspires you?

All of us know about Kalpana Chawla, the first Indian woman to go in space. She is a great source of inspiration for all our youngsters. She used to say that she is a daughter of the galaxy. She said, inspiration comes to her every day from people in all walks of life and that she is inspired and motivated by seeing somebody who just goes all out to do something. She was particularly inspired by the amount of efforts put by her teachers to carry out their courses, the extra time they took to do experiments with the students and also just the compliments they used to give the students for coming up with ideas, new ideas. She was also inspired by explorers, probably that is the reason she was so thrilled to go on exploratory mission.


Indomitable Spirit

For success in any mission what we need is indomitable spirit. Let us study the characteristics of indomitable spirit. It has two components. The first component is that there must be a Vision leading to higher goals of achievement. I would like to recall a couplet from Thirukkural by the Poet Saint Thiruvalluvar written 2500 years ago.


It means that whatever may be the depth of the river or lake or pond, whatever may be the condition of the water, the lily flower always comes out and blossoms. Similarly, if there is a definite determination to achieve a goal even if it is impossible to achieve, the man succeeds.

Many of us have gone through large programmes and projects. We would have experienced that success is not in sight and there are many hurdles. The same poet reminds us at this point of time through another couplet:

It means successful leaders can never be defeated by problems. They become master of the situation and defeat the problems.

I consider these two Thirukkurals characterize the indomitable spirit.


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 have got a tremendous responsibility to transform a child into a leader - the transformation of 'what can you do for me' to 'what can I do for you'. That will demand a principal to be a visionary with an inspiring capability. Also the principal has to ensure that teachers impart learning to the children 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, teachers, and parents on students.

Now, I would like to administer an oath for attaining enlightened citizenship. Would you repeat with me?


Ten point oath for enlightened citizenship

1. I will love whatever profession I take up and I will try to excel in it.

2. From now onwards I will teach at least 10 persons to read and write those who cannot read and write.

3. I will plant ten saplings/trees and ensure their growth.

4. I will go to rural and urban areas to reform at least five persons from the habits of addiction and gambling.

5. I will take responsibility for removing the pain of ailing persons.

6. I will participate in the mission of realizing the economic strength of India by combining it with an education with value system and by transforming religion into a spiritual force.

7. I will not support any differentiation on account of community or language.

8. I will lead an honest life free from all corruption and will set an example for others to adopt a transparent way of life.

9. I will always be a friend of the mentally and physically challenged and I will work hard to make them feel normal.

10. I will celebrate the success of my country and my people.




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