Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam: Former President of India
  Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam    
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23-06-2007 : New Delhi
Media for a billion people

"Small aim is a Crime"


I am delighted to interact with the journalists of the Press Trust of India. Press Trust of India has rich history and tradition and is famous for its accuracy, reliability and timeliness of news gathering and dissemination. My greetings to all of you.

Friends, you are a very important component of the society. When I see you all, I recall my experiences of visiting all the States and Union Territories. I have witnessed the unique ambience typical of the seven hundred million people living in 600,000 villages equivalent to 200,000 Panchayats. What is that ambience? I call that ambience as, "A scene of sweat". It is the farmers in the agricultural field, it is the fishermen in the rough seas, it is the workers in the industries, teachers in the schools, knowledge workers in the laboratories, knowledge and Pharma industries, health workers removing the pain at all times in healthcare institutions and many other people, who have to be always remembered by this great news reporting community. That is how I have selected the topic for discussion today as "Media for a billion people".

Let me now discuss certain rural programmes that have been carried out by district administration, NGOs, self-help groups, institutions and individuals which are benefiting rural areas in a few States.


One Village One Product and PURA

The members of Periyar PURA in Vallam, Thanjavur district in Tamil Nadu have created a strategic partnership with Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) of Japan. During the last eight months, people of Periyar PURA villages technologically supported by Periyar Maniammai College of Engineering for Women have worked with experts from JETRO on various products for which core competence and raw material is available in Thanjavur district. They developed proto types for 123 products such as bed sheets, table runner, cushion cover, brass drum, curtains, bread basket etc. Interaction with JETRO specialists included comparison of Japanese product, discussion on raw material selection, technical advice on product development and final quality inspection. Based on this intensive interaction, Vallam people produced 123 products and JETRO selected 55 out of them for international market.

These 55 finalized products were displayed in an exhibition at New Delhi during February 2007 and they have also been displayed in Interior Lifestyle 2007 Exhibition at Tokyo held during 6th and 8th June 2007. Over 168 visitors have shown interest in the life style products presented by Periyar PURA team. The important point I would like to mention is that the local technical consultancy support for improving the product has been provided by Periyar Maniammai College of Engineering for Women, and also JETRO. Now, let me talk about another example which has transformed the livelihood of the people in Assam.


Innovation in duck rearing, management and marketing

Gumoria is a village in Assam inhabited by marginal farmers and landless labourers. This has been transformed into one of the model villages following the formation of 50 self-help groups. With the help from the Government, the self-help groups of the village started rearing ducks and assistance was given to the women in the form of training, marketing, veterinary aid etc, while, apart from the assistance given by the Government, the banks also provided financial support to the groups. The groups have so far earned more than Rs one crore against the investment of Rs 26 lakh, which includes a bank loan of Rs 7.50 lakh.

Women of the village are maintaining about 15 to 20 thousand ducks on an average and the weekly income of each family varies from Rs 150 to Rs 300. The egg production in the village ranges from 25 to 30 thousand a week. The eggs are sold in local market and some traders from Guwahati also visit the village regularly to buy eggs. Apart from eggs, the women of the village also sell extra male ducks to earn additional money.

Women of the groups are rearing ducks in a scientific manner under guidance from the faculty members of the State Institute for Rural Development which has got the hybrid technology for increasing the yield per duck and also increasing protein content in the eggs in partnership with agricultural scientists from Kerala.


Handloom Silk Industry in Assam

I also visited Sialguchi village where the entire community is proudly engaged in the production of famous Assam silk sarees. I recalled the Kancheepuram experience where the Science and Technology input has helped the silk textile specialists in improving the design by computer aided techniques. The villagers in Sialguchi need help in getting technological support for improving their product.


Media Research

I have a suggestion particularly to the members of the media consisting of editors, journalists, correspondents and reporters. In our country, it is essential to have research wings in academic institutions developing media personnel in reporting news, event analysis and highlights. This will enable our journalists to carry out original research on topics of national interest and provide solutions to medium and long term problems. The owners of newspapers should encourage research being carried out by experienced and young reporters for acquiring post-graduate qualifications which will improve the quality of content of the print media. Participating media members must realize that continuous updating of knowledge in research environment is essential for all media personnel. For example, before any issue is discussed in foreign newspapers, they send it to an internal research group where data is studied, verified and factual news is generated and sent for publication. When there was a critical comment about outsourcing to India, a US journalist stayed in India and studied the issue and found out that the companies engaged in Business Process Outsourcing (BPOs) were carrying out business using imported equipment from USA and Europe. Thus, they found that the BPO industries provided an indirect market for the hardware industries of the USA and Europe. Immediately this was reported in the Indian media in a big way. Similarly a Discovery Channel media person wanted to study India's growth in Information Technology, Thomas Friedman came to India and stayed for a month and visited Bangalore and other places. Based on his news analysis he wrote a book titled "The World is Flat". This book has become famous not only in India but throughout the world. Such is the power of research. I would suggest our Indian newspaper agencies should encourage research being carried out by our correspondents and journalists within India in academic research institutions, which will definitely improve the quality of our reporting and enhance the participation of journalists in national development missions.


Missions for PTI journalists

In the present development context of the nation, I would like PTI journalists to take up the theme of a Developed India by 2020 as their primary mission. To achieve this the journalists must become development partners in the programme of PURA (Providing Urban Amenities in Rural Areas), energy independence mission, celebrate every aspect of success of the nation particularly in rural areas, work towards promotion of a corruption free society, help in the creation of enlightened citizens and promote harmony in the nation.



I am sure you would agree with me on certain special areas of focus for all the journalists.

1. Accuracy of news reporting.

2. Reporting real time events in the rural environment, such as weather report for fisher men folk or the right type of seed availability in market.

3. Describing the life pattern of Farmers, fishermen, craftsmen and their seasonal needs, success, problems.

4. Performance of Panchayats and success stories, particularly of Women panchayat leaders.

5. Progress and problems in the region - Road condition, water body condition and transport connectivity.

6. One of the major problems in North eastern states is the perceived isolation from rest of the country. Accomplishments should be celebrated. Leaders' visits should be highlighted.

My greetings and best wishes to all of you.

May God bless you.

Dr. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam




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