Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam: Former President of India
  Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam    
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23-12-2002 : Indore

I am delighted to participate in the Golden Jubilee Celebrations of Shri. Cloth Market Vaishnav Higher Secondary School. My greeting to the members of Vaishnav Academic Trust, students, parents and particularly teachers who are shaping the future citizens of our country with value based academic education. I was thinking what thoughts I can share with you during this golden jubilee celebrations. The topic I have selected is " Marvels of Universe".

The best part for a person is his or her learning period in school childhood. The prime learning environment is 5th to 16th years' of age. Of course at home, love and affection are imparted. But again most of the time in a day is spent in preparing school's homework and study, eat, play and sleep. Hence the school hours for children are the best time for learning and need the best of environment and mission oriented learning with value system. During this stage, they need value based education in school and at home for them to become good citizens. This reminds me the echo from Bestolozzy, a great teacher's saying, "give me a child for seven years. Afterwards, let the God or devil take the child. They cannot change the child." For parents and teachers, school campus and home have to have an integrated mission: education with value system. If the child misses the value based education of 25,000 hours in the school campus, no government or society can establish a transparent society or a society with integrity. Up to the age of 17 years, the father, the mother and the teacher lead a child to become an enlightened citizen. If the child misses the period of learning for the reasons as it is today, the nation loses an enlightened citizen.

Marvels of the Universe

Let me start this talk with some of the questions posed to me by the children recently during a personal interaction. The questions were from Vikrant Nahal Arya of Sanskriti School and Rupanjali Lahiri of St Thomas School, New Delhi, They asked me very simple question which led me to think. The question was : " Your birthday has recently gone by. What were your thoughts on that day?." They wanted to know what my birthday meant to me. It meant for me that I had completed 71 orbits around the sun, and had entered my 72nd orbit. Think of our Universe. I am amazed and always inspired by the dynamics of our universe. Our star (sun), its planets, every celestial object has a purpose. If the Earth stopped rotating around its axis, what would happen? No earth, No night, no day. If Sun does not orbit, sun will not be there. Think of it. The sun also orbit around the Milky Way. Isn't it. It takes the Sun 250 million years for one orbit around Milky Way, our galaxy. Compare that to my 72nd orbits. What does that mean? One single citizen completing 71 orbits. It is an insignificant event, compared to dynamics of universe. But human mind is innovative and can think and explore the marvels of universe.


Thinking is Progress

Friends, we should note that human mind is a unique gift. Marvels of universe you can enter into it only if you have curiosity and thinking. I suggest to all of you, thinking should become your capital asset, no matter whatever ups and downs you come across in your life. Thinking is progress. Non thinking is destruction to the individual, organization and the country. Thinking leads to action. Knowledge without action is useless and irrelevant. Knowledge with action brings prosperity As a student, I would like you to have a mind to explore every aspect of human life. Look at the sky. We are not alone. The whole universe is friendly to us and conspires to give the best to those who dream. Like Chandrasekhar Subramaniam discovered the black hole. Today, using Chandrasekar's limit we can calculate how long the sun will shine. Like, Sir CV Raman looked at the sea and questioned why the sea should be blue leading to the birth of Raman Effect. Like, Albert Einstein, armed with the complexity of the universe, asked the question how the universe was born. The famous equation E=mc2 arrived. When E=mc2 is in the hands of noble souls we got electricity using nuclear materials. When the same equation was in the hands of extreme political thinkers, destruction of Hiroshima took place. Millions of people walk in this universe. But during last millennium one noble soul walked and walked in the Indian soil giving application of ahimsa dharma leading to the Indian independence. My dear friends, can you dream to become a noble minded like Mahatma Gandhi or Sir CV Raman or Einstein, or Chandrasekhar Subramaniam. Look at the marvels of your universe. You become a great thinker and action will follow.


Knowledge sweat and perseverance

Wherever I go , I meet school children. Till now, I have met more than 100000 students. Recently, I was in Tuensang, a remote village in Nagaland. I talked to student community. I was in Tawang, in a 400 year old monastery situated in the high altitude of 10,000 ft in Arunachal Pradesh. I was in Manipur valley, I was in Jharkand, I was in Gujarat. Everywhere, one common voice echoed from the young. Mr. Kalam, can you tell us, in this complex world how to achieve a prosperous India, Peaceful India, a secured India?. What can be my answer? I was thinking and thinking. I have lived in this planet for 71 years. Did I learn out of my difficult times, some thing to share with you, the young boys and girls across the country. From 1982 to 1992 was a very important period for me to design, develop, build and to operate certain missile systems for our country. What type of world was there around me at that time. All developed countries had condemned India in the name of MTCR, as one weapon. The other weapon used by them was NPT (Non nuclear Proliferation Treaty). With these two weapons of technological denials can the Indian minds succeed in its mission? I will share with you an experience which I had during development of Prithvi and Agni missile systems. In the missile system, for guidance and control, we use two gyro sensors in every flight system. For a given accuracy for a missile payload system, it was essential to have a accuracy of .20 drift per hour. One of our industries at that time was producing 10 per hour gyros. There was a denial of high accuracy gyros from developed countries. A task team was formed between an University and one of our labs to find a technical solution. About twelve software and hardware engineers after working for eight months came out with a solution of fast algorithm to be loaded on the on-board computer of the missile system and for real time error compensation. This will predict the error in the flight trajectory ahead and compensate the error in the gyro performance to make it to provide very high accuracy than the one which was denied. I am giving this example how software solutions, knowledge and enthusiasm can work with hardware constraints. We have to work for high end software which will bring more value addition. Also, VLSI foundries should be continuously upgraded to the sub micron level. To keep these foundries going, one of the major requirement is high purity VLSI grade silicon material. The country should have this facility and the investment should take place in this critical area.


Agenda for the young in Developed India Mission

Developed India is no more a vision. The Prime Minister, on Independence Day, has announced that we will become a Developed India by 2020. The largest beneficiary of this dream when realized will be you, the young. Hence it is important that you contribute in its initial stages of realization and shape it to the best of your abilities with in your academic and family confines. The biggest concern of the parents and the children in your age group is about the job prospects when you complete your education. Without worrying about minor variations in the subjects of your pursuit, your opportunities and future will be brighter if you excel in whatever subject you undertake to study. At the frontier there are no borders.


Student Centric Literacy Movement

One of the important indicators of a developed nation is the literacy level. Educating a nation of a billion people is not a small task. It requires the participation of all the stake holders starting from the young. Many of you are fortunate enough to attend good schools for a quality education. But many of your brothers and sisters are not that fortunate, particularly those from the villages near you. A good sign of a developed nation is that it is built on societies wherein "people who have" work hard to bridge the divide between them and "those who have not". One way of doing this is for your school to adopt a village near you. When we look at the national target of increasing the literacy level from 57% to 75% by 2010, you must set the target for the village you adopted to be in tune with the national mission. Each one of you could visit the villages on holidays and contribute to removal of illiteracy of at least two persons and light the quest for knowledge in them. Work with consortium of industries, philanthropists, NGOs and ensure that this task is sustainable and its impact can be measurable and quantified.

The educational institutions have to gear-up to evolve a curriculum that is sensitive to the social and technological needs of the Developed India. Student activities towards such missions could be seamlessly integrated with the existing curriculum so that the future members of the knowledge society are fully developed in all aspects of societal transformation.


Student Centric Eco-care Movement

The trees and vegetation around us are the best transformers of energy from the sun on a sustainable basis for our utilization. In the process they provide us the most efficient way of cleaning up our environment, shelter for all living species, a source of food and energy. They are often associated with serene environments that facilitate creative thoughts and actions. As you know dreaming, and dreams transforming into action are important constituents of developed India, friends what you can contribute. Without pain and tears, 200 million of you, if you plant five seedlings, you will add a billion trees, and mother India will give her smiles to you. On that day you will demonstrate to the world that what 200 millions children can do collectively and make us proud. The tree planting may be done in your house, school or in the village your school adopts. The school management or the NGOs should help this student centric eco-care movement on a sustainable basis. Few years from now every one us, Indians, must be a proud guardian of trees planted by the young. This dynamic movement will echo the children's concern for eco-friendly future.

A billion trees also require careful planning water which is already becoming a scare commodity in this country. While the efforts are being taken to make the mother earth greener, the rainwater due to lack of proper planning gets wasted. By todays technology, it is possible to develop a small scale water harvesting stations. For example your school can think of developing a water harvesting station with 10 CFT per student with in your school complex or in the village adopted by your school. If you do that the inbuilt thoughts in you will bring a spirit to share the national resources. Rainwater harvesting will maintain water table level preventing environmental decay and making water available for agriculture and drinking.


The Vision for the nation

After 50 years of progress, the aspirations are mounting that India should become a developed country. This is the second vision for the nation. How we can prepare ourselves to this challenge?

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 the economy. Our target should be a GDP growth of 9% annually and that the people below poverty line to be reduced to 10%. (b) near self-reliance in defence needs of weapon, equipment with no umbilical attached to any outside world. (c) India should have a right place in world forums. Technology Vision 2020 is a pathway to realise this cherished mission.


Technology Vision 2020:

The Technology Vision 2020 consisted of 17 technology packages in the core sectors such as agriculture and food, healthcare, infrastructure and strategic industries. The Task Teams with nearly 500 experts of our country worked for two years, deliberated national status of various branches of national development and generated 35 documents detailing the steps to be taken for creating wealth for the nation and the well being of our people. "Technology" is the most vital key for achieving the goals. The vision deals with agro food processing, food and agriculture, health-care, electric power, civil aviation, waterways, engineering industries, life sciences and bio-technology, strategic industries and materials and processing. There is a tremendous link between each technology package. For example, higher food production and productivity which is essential, can be achieved, by incorporating technological excellence in scientific inputs for cultivation, harvesting, storage as well as transportation, distribution, marketing, preservation of seeds, improved pesticides, etc.

We have identified five areas where India has a core competence for an integrated action. (1) Agriculture and food processing - we have to put 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 the economic growth. (2) Reliable and quality electric power for all parts of the country. (3) Education and Healthcare - we have seen, based on the experience, education and healthcare are inter related. For example, Kerala with education and better healthcare can bring down the population growth and provide improvements in quality of life of the people. Similarly, in Tamil Nadu also we have seen the downward growth of population resulting from a unique system of "mid-day meal" coupled with education. Studies about Andhra Pradesh also have different facets. These experiences, we feel, should be taken and spread in big states like Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. Beginning of agricultural prosperity through better yields in these States will help this process. (4) Information Technology - This is one of our core competence. 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 the 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% near self-reliance in a decade in defence equipment.

These five areas are closely inter-related and lead to national, food, and economic security. A strong partnership among the R&D, academy, Industry and the community as a whole with the Government departments will be essential to accomplish the vision.

The vision for a developed India is even though driven fully by economic development coupled with security needs of the nation, it is important to note that the intellectuals of the nation is equally important. What it means is: India, due to its ancient civilisation, inspite of over-powering from various invading nations, the intellectual wisdom needs to be sprung back, matched with Indian value system. The intellectuals' mighty minds built in self-confidence with compassion for the service to poorer section is the most important demand for a developed nation - happy society.



Dear friends, the present academic system may give you more workload, But, it doesn't prevent you to dream. It doesn't prevent you to work hard and acquire knowledge. Hard work and perseverance are beautiful angels who will support you. I would like to recall an incident that I witnessed in 1960s. Prof. Vikram Sarabhai, the visionary of space programme, put forth to this country that India should design and develop communication satellites, remote sensing satellites and launch them in polar orbits from the Indian soil, for mapping Indian natural resources. Today his dream has become true. The nation is capable of developing any type of space system. Hence, dream. Your dreams will transform into thoughts. The thoughts will result in actions. You will succeed.

India is a nation of a billion people. A nation's progress depends upon how its people think. It is thoughts which are transformed into actions. India has to think as a nation of a billion people. Let the young minds blossom-full of thought, the thoughts of prosperity. My greetings and best wishes to all the young on this children' day.




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