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

I am indeed delighted to be in this campus for delivering the Address in the Golden Jubilee Celebrations of SGS Institute of Technology and Science. I am very happy to note that the Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh, who himself is an Engineer in addition to being a dynamic political leader, is a product of this prestigious institution. I am sure many such eminent contributors would have come out of this institution during its fifty years of existence. I was thinking what thoughts I can share with you on this important occasion. The topic I have selected is " Thinking is Progress "

Thinking is Progress

Friends, we should note that human mind is a unique gift. You can try to fathom the marvels of universe. You can enter into it only if you have curiosity and thinking. I suggest to all the young, 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.

I would like you, dear young, 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 that lead to the birth of Raman Effect. Like, Albert Einstein, armed with the complexity of the universe, asked the questions about nature of the universe, 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.

It was 11th May in 1998, the Indian scientists witnessed a great event of the nation. The nuclear explosion one after another - five explosions took place. I was standing on the planet earth on a hot sandy hill. The earth shook as though Atlas shrugged. I felt India could create the energy of any magnitude but also I remembered the importance of technology in the hands of good human beings. Fortunately the central theme of our nuclear doctrine has become "no first use". It was born out of the civilisational heritage of the nation. During the 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, wouldn't you like to become a noble minded Mahatma Gandhi or a great intellectual like Sir CV Raman or Einstein or Chandrasekhar Subramaniam. Look at the marvels of your universe. You become a great thinker and action will follow.


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 industrial society where the management of technology, capital and labour provided the competitive advantage. Then the information era was born, last decade,where connectivity and software products are driving the economy of a few nations. 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 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.,


Knowledge Society

A knowledge society can be one of the foundations for realizing the 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.


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. How do we do that?

The 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 hence uniquely placed to fully capitalize the opportunity to quickly transform into a knowledge society. The methodology of wealth generation in these core areas and to be able to meet an export target set at 50 billion dollars by the year 2008, especially using IT sector is subject of discussion, while simultaneously developing capability to generate Information Technology products worth 30 billion dollars domestically to pump in for societal transformation.

Evolution of policy and administrative procedures, changes in regulatory methods, identification of partners and most importantly creation of young and dynamic leaders are the components to be in place. In order to generate wealth, which is the second component for establishing a knowledge society, it is essential that simultaneously a citizen-centric approach to evolution of business policy, user-driven technology generation and intensified industry-lab-academy linkages have also to be established.


Societal Transformation

The agriculture society concentrated on producing the natural products such as grains, fruits, timber, ores and natural minerals etc. The industrial society added value to these products by incorporating explicit knowledge (High Technology) to it. This not only added value to products but also increased the productivity. The Information Society adds further value by widely making available the explicit knowledge through electronic networking of information centres and thus making available information products worldwide. The knowledge society will be the society producing products and services that are rich in both explicit and tacit knowledge thus creating more valuable products. It will emerge as centre of excellence in certain institutions, which will expand to cover the entire country in a decade. The leading social group of the knowledge society will be its knowledge workers, who will have sufficient knowledge to create explicit and tacit knowledge rich products. The society will be highly networked to create knowledge intensive environment along with enabling process to efficiently create, share exploit and protect the knowledge.

The IT growth in India really has highlighted that it is possible the data transformed into the information has a business proposition. By 2010, India would aim at IT enabled services consisting of human resource service, customer interaction, finance and accounting, data search and integration and remote education. The wealth generation in real sense comes out not in series, data, information, knowledge and innovation. But how fast we move India in innovation path of business. Particularly e-business demands innovative software and hardware. Friends, as you all know, India is well placed at the dawn of the knowledge era. We should not miss this opportunity. Our culture and civilization have been enriched over the ages by great thinkers who have always taken an integrated view of life as a fusion of mind, body and intellect. Their vision of knowledge has blossomed in the form of many spiritual centers and classics. The coming decades, the enriched young, will see a confluence of civilisational and modern technological streams.


Knowledge Powered PURA ( Providing Urban amenities in Rural Areas )

I am sure that removal of poverty will call for Providing Urban amenities in Rural Areas (PURA). The model I envisage is a habitat design to improve the quality of life in rural places and makes special suggestions to remove urban congestion also. Instead of village population coming to urban area, the reverse phenomena have to take place. How is it possible? Knowledge powered village complex has to be generated in numbers in every State. That means, 20-30 villages linked through a circular road (10x6 kms) with highways bringing physical connectivity and reliable communication facilities bringing electronic connectivity. In the periphery, there can be schools, primary health centres, technical training centres, silos for storage of products and markets for promoting products, cottage industries bringing economic connectivity and knowledge connectivity. This knowledge powered village complex will also have markets attracting urban business.



When the child is empowered by the parents, at various phases of growth, the child gets transformed into a responsible citizen. When the teacher is empowered with knowledge and experience, good young human beings with value systems take shape. When individual or a team is empowered with technology, transformation to higher potential for achievement is assured. When the leader of any institution empowers his or her people, leaders are born who can change the nation in multiple areas. When women are empowered, society with stability gets assured. When the political leaders of the nation empower the people through visionary policies, the prosperity of the nation is certain. When religion transforms into a spiritual force the people become enlightened citizens with value system.

A nation is made great by the thoughts of its people and their action. The people in turn become important citizens of that great country. The next 20 years period, I consider, is a period of technology transformation in India. I anticipate new emerging economic situations. There is a possibility of India becoming a knowledge society with focussed tool of Information Technology and entrepreneurial push. All the more, this ambience will demand our cultural and traditional value system to be embedded in our societal growth. I am sure young students, graduates and faculty members will pursue vital roles in realising our second vision of transforming India into a Developed country by sharing their expert knowledge base.

My greetings to all of you.




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