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


I am indeed delighted to be with the student community belonging to medical, dental, pharmacy, nursing, physiotherapy and allied health sciences disciplines. When I see the doctors I see them as pain removers. When I see dentists, I see them as persons who brings smile on the faces of people. When I see the nurses, I am reminded of angels moving in a full moon night. In a hospital when no doctors, no relatives are around the patients during night time, the nurses go around to provide consolation and relief to the patients. At that time nurses appear to be angels for the patients to cater to their requirements like medicines, dressing and other help. In this scenario, Pharmacists also play an important role by providing right kind of medicines. Physiotherapists make the limbs of the patients operational through intensive exercises and body treatment. All of you provide yeoman service in removing human miseries and pain with human intelligence and patience. "Service to human being is Service to God". I was thinking what thoughts I could share with this group, who would be becoming society's angels with their humane services. The topic I have selected for this interaction is: "Removing the Human Pain : Challenges".

Supremacy of the human mind

Since you are all going to work with the integrated system of psychology and physiology of human beings, I would like to share with you, friends, some of the predictions of Ray Kurzweil written in his book "When Computers Exceed Human Intelligence - The Age Of Spiritual Machines". World Wide Web will make tremendous impact in the way we communicate and live. Most of the computers and accessories will be of micro sized, wearable and will have wireless communications with each other. Moderately priced PCs capable of performing about billion calculations per second today will be able to perform about trillion calculations per second with in next 10 years. And by 2020 computational ability of an ordinary PC will exceed the capability of human brain. By 2030 the capability of a normal PC would be around 1000 times of human capability.

By the end of this century there would be a strong trend towards merger of human thinking with the world of machine intelligence that the human species initially created. When there would no longer be any clear distinction between human and computers, how are we going to retain the supremacy of man over machines? Computers are going to give us a challenge. It is not only for the biologists and bio-technologists, the entire scientific community would have greater responsibility of keeping the mankind above the man-made computers. Fortunately, the creativity and imagination components of human are supreme and will continue to excel which need to be explored and utilized. The human genome is full of software that is yet to be activated to unleash the ingenious potentials of human spices.

Time has come for our scientific community to prove our abilities in the field of bio-science and bio-technology for harnessing these technologies in multiple fields for wealth generation for societal transformation as we have accomplished in the field of information technology. Technology is the most nonlinear tool that can effect the most fundamental changes in the ground rules of economic competitiveness. Science is linked to technology through applications. Technology is linked to economy and environment through manufacture. Economy and environment link Technology to the society.


Biotechnology in Health Care

I would like to share my experiences while I was in Anna University, Chennai. A unique research effort resulted in getting a patent for a new molecule discovered from an herb as an anti cancer drug. This came out of the fusion of two great minds, one was a bio technologist and the other was a traditional siddha medical practitioner. The traditional system of medicine like Ayurveda, Siddha etc have advocated and practiced preventive and curative medicinal recipes specific to individuals. The body, mind, food and environment were looked at holistically to suggest a preventive or curative approach to health. New technologies such as human genome sequencing, proteomics, pharmaco-genomics, ultra high throughput screening are revolutionizing drug discovery. Medicinal plants offer enormous scope for development of drugs. We need to create database of traditional medicinal plants for specific bioactivity and lead for development of new drugs. India has got tremendous potentials for herbal farming and research.


Heart pain and cardiologists

In India, fourth largest number of heart surgeries in the world are conducted. More than 50,000 heart surgeries are performed every year in our country. Also it is reported that India has the highest number of persons suffering from heart diseases. Why? Is it due to genetic defect, improper food habits or indifference to health awareness? Hence the mission of the medical doctors have to be directed towards the best possible cardiac healthcare in a cost effective manner with surgeon's heart with love. Yet there is a most important mission that is bigger than the gathering here and bigger than even a nation: Bringing down heart ailments, heart defects through proper preventive methods, evolving preventive technology such as early diagnostic tool, training for stress free life and above all doing research to learn from a few rural areas and hilly regions where minimum heart ailments are reported. With this background, it is all the more important to have full time research centres with medical doctors.

Since every cardiac surgeon is involved in cardiac surgery for removal of the defect and the pain of the heart patient, he or she can also play a vital role in preventing heart diseases through proper health education to the patient as well as to his or her relatives and friends through the life style intervention. This can consist of a proper diet with low fat and high fibre, regular aerobic exercise like walking and stress management through Yoga, meditation and other methods. This can help in preventing the recurrence of the disease in the heart patient as well as promote preventive cardiology at the national level. When the cardiac surgeon performs the heart surgery by opening the chest, the patient becomes part and parcel of the surgeons and considers the doctors almost as God. Hence, the patient will definitely accept your health education considering you as the most respected guru. Every patient receives his family members, relatives and friends when he is receiving healthcare in the hospital. That is the occasion when the heart surgeons can give this message of a healthy life style to all of them. If the doctors do this I can foresee that the incidence of heart disease requiring surgical intervention will come down and also the quality of life of the heart patients will improve. These teachings will be true to all branches of medical sciences


Stem Cell Research

The recent identification and characterization of progenitors with stem cell properties has opened new avenues that may be useful for treating functional impairments caused by the death of specific cell population. The stem cells may help restore functioning of certain defective organs, by repopulating or rescuing the damaged cells from further degeneration. There will be a revolution in the medical treatment for heart care, cancer, blindness and mentally challenged. It is essential to launch an integrated national stem cell research program.



Whether India has to eradicate leprosy or TB, to prevent spread of HIV by developing anti HIV vaccine, or to control cardio vascular diseases by multiple technologies and practices, we in India need something important apart from resources. That is creative leadership in all fields, particularly in medical field. Who are the creative leaders? What are the qualities of a creative leader? The creative leadership is exercising the task to change the traditional role from commander to coach, from manager to mentor, from director to delegator and from one who demands respect to one who facilitate self respect. The higher the proportion of creative leaders in the medical field, the higher the potential for successes in medical field in diagnosis, treatment and research for discovering new avenues in healthcare.

May God bless you.




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