ADDRESS AT THE 160TH YEAR CELEBRATIONS OF ST. JOSEPH'S COLLEGE
20-12-2003 : Tiruchirapalli, Tamil Nadu
KNOWLEDGE SOCIETY & DEVELOPED INDIA
I am delighted to participate in the 160th year celebrations of St.Joseph's College, Tiruchirapalli. I greet Fr.Provincial, Fr Rector, Jesuits, staff - both teaching and non-teaching and all students of this college. I congratulate the teachers for continuously generating valuable human resource to our society by shaping the minds of our youth. I specially greet Rev. Fr.Chinnadurai who is now present here, who inspired me during my college days. On this important occasion I would like to share with you all some of my thoughts on "Knowledge Society and Developed India"
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.
Core competence for Knowledge Society
A knowledge society can be one of the foundations for a vision for the nation: Developed India. Knowledge has always been the prime mover of prosperity and power. The acquisition of knowledge has therefore been the thrust area through out the world and sharing the experience of knowledge is a unique culture of our country. India is a nation endowed with natural and competitive advantages as also certain distinctive competencies. But these are scattered in isolated pockets and the awareness on these is inadequate. During the last century the world has undergone a change from agriculture society, where labour force was the critical factor, to industrial society where the management of technology, capital and labour provided the competitive advantage. In the 21st century, a new society is emerging where knowledge is the primary production resource instead of capital and labour. Efficient utilisation of this existing knowledge can create comprehensive wealth of the nation 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 attained a stage of knowledge society is judged by the way the country effectively deals with knowledge creation and knowledge deployment.
Knowledge Society Components
Knowledge Society has two very important components driven by societal transformation and wealth generation. The societal transformation is on education, healthcare, agriculture and governance. These will lead to employment generation, high productivity and rural prosperity.
Wealth generation is a very important task for the nation, which has to be woven around national competencies. The task team has identified core areas that will spearhead our march towards knowledge society. The areas are: Information Technology, bio-technology, space technology, weather forecasting, disaster management, tele-medicine and tele-education, technologies to produce native knowledge products, service sector and Infotainment which is the emerging area resulting from convergence of Information and entertainment. These core technologies, fortunately, can be interwoven by IT. IT took off only due to enterprising spirit of the young. Thus there are multiple technologies and management structure that have to work together to generate knowledge society. It has to be recognized that the difference between an IT-driven society and a knowledge-driven society is the role of multiple technology growth engines. With India carving a niche for itself in Information Technology, the country is uniquely placed to fully capitalize the opportunity to quickly transform itself into a knowledge society. If we have generate talented young generation we have to spot and nurture competence where ever it is. I would like to narrate an incident which took place a few years back.
Spotting the buds to blossom
A young man, Loveligen, from a remote area of Kerala, who could not complete his science graduation, wrote to me saying that he has discovered a new mathematical theory and he would like to talk to me. I saw in the letter that the boy was very sincere. Since he has written to me, I thought our specialist team can study his work and direct him to the right type of researchers. I called this boy to Delhi for a few days. What surprised us was that he had arrived at part of the equations of the Ramanujam's number theory, which this boy was not at all aware of. He had discovered something and added some new points to it and the result is new. To a great extent the achievements in the field of mathematics generally seem to come out of a desire to look into the beautiful aspects of nature, including natural phenomena such as the star studded skies, which have always interested the astronomers from time immemorial. An additional contributory factor seems to be an inherent drive towards recognition of patterns even if it be in the sense of mathematical sequences or series. It is interesting to note that Loveligen has currently delved into the equally exciting topic of power sequences and series. What I felt was that he needed a good mathematical education or a patronage of a good mathematics teacher. It is like having Prof Hardy for Ramanujam, the mathematics genius to come. I asked this boy, why he didn't meet a mathematics teacher. He said, meeting a mathematics teacher is an expedition. He says, it is below their dignity to meet somebody who is not even a graduate. How do we promote this kind of young and enthusiastic minds? Can our teachers and philanthropists or the social activists spot these buds to blossom? Those who spot such talents and make them flower and blossom will themselves be a different kind of a flower as described in the Bhagwad Gita: "See the flower, how generously it distributes its perfume and its 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 generations of this Nation. Now I would like to discuss with you the Vision for the Nation for transforming India into a developed nation by 2020.
Vision for the Nation
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 economy. Our target should be a GDP growth of 9 percent annually and that the people below the poverty line to be reduced to near zero. (b) Near self-reliance in defence and needs of weapon, equipment with no umbilical attached to the 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 core competence for an integrated action. (1) Agriculture and food processing - we have to place 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 economic growth. (2) Reliable and quality electric power for all parts of the country. (3) Education and healthcare - we have seen, based on experience, education and healthcare are inter related. (4) Information communication technology - this is one of our core competences. 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 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 percent 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 research and development, academia, industry and the community as a whole with Government departments will be essential to accomplish the Vision. In addition there must be unity of minds among our one billion people for realizing this goal. In this connection I would like to share with you an interesting experience which I had during my recent visit abroad.
Unity of minds
I visited to a Christian Monastery in RILA located in the hills of Bulgaria. It is the biggest Bulgarian revival, spiritual and cultural centre with a 16,000 volume library including 134 manuscripts from 15th to 19th century. This holy site played an important role in the spiritual and social life of medieval Bulgaria. Destroyed by fire at the beginning of the 19th century, the complex was rebuilt later and is now surrounded by a big fort. While being in that divine environment amidst the Reverend Fathers aged between 80 and 90, I felt like praying. I went to the altar and asked permission of the Reverend Bishop to recite the part of the prayer of St. Francis of Assisi. The prayer was repeated by all the people present in the Monastery.
The Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi
Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace;
Where there is hatred let me sow love;
And where there is injury, pardon;
And where there is doubt, faith;
And where there is despair, hope;
And where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.
For it is in giving that we receive;
?it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
? and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
The silent message in this prayer was felt by the Reverend Bishop, who blessed me by saying "You work for world peace". My young friends, may this beautiful divine message of love, enlighten your life to work for national development and universal peace.
So far, I have interacted with three hundred thousand children in different parts of our country. I also interacted with nearly 10,000 students in the three countries which I visited recently. My interaction with these children reveal that the aspirations of the young, whether in India or in other nations, are the same: that is to live in a peaceful, prosperous and secure nation. All of them are looking for challenging missions, good role models and leaders who can be their guiding spirit. A combination of knowledge, enthusiasm and hard work of the youth, is a great dynamic force available for the societal transformation. We belong to one society and we should work for the universal prosperity and world peace.
I wish the St Joseph's College all success in its mission in this eventful year of 160th anniversary.
I wish you all a happy Christmas and New Year.