Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam: Former President of India
  Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam    
 
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INTERACTION WITH COLLEGE / UNIVERSITY STUDENTS OF HIMACHAL PRADESH AT PETER HOFF
 

 
23-12-2004 : Himachal Pradesh
 
Youth and National Development

I am delighted to be here and interact with the college and university students of Himachal Pradesh. The strength of a nation comes out of economic growth and the ability to defend itself. Hence progress of the nation is strongly linked to an integrated approach to economic development and national security. I greet the Vice Chancellor, Professors, principals, teachers and staff for shaping the young minds to contribute to the nation in multiple fields. Dear students, when you go out of the colleges, the education and empowerment that you have received will be with you to meet any challenge. You will be a winner if you have a tall aim, if you can sweat for achieving the aim and indomitable spirit to overcome any problem you face in your life.

 
   
 

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Vision for the Nation

To become a developed India, the essential needs are: (a) India has to be economically powerful and become at least one among the top four nations in terms of size of economy. Our target should be a GDP growth of 10% percent annually sustained for a period of ten years. (b) Near self-reliance in defence systems with no umbilical attached to the outside world in determining its foreign policy. (c) India should have a right place in world forums. Technology Vision 2020 is a pathway to realise this cherished goal. 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 400 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. These five areas are closely inter-related and would lead to food, economic and national security.

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Conclusion

So far, I have interacted with five hundred thousand children in different parts of our country. I also interacted with nearly 25,000 students abroad. 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. India fortunately has five hundred and forty million youth. This is our core-strength. A combination of knowledge, enthusiasm and hard work of the youth, is a great dynamic force available for transforming our nation into a developed country by the year 2020.

My best wishes to the students and faculty members of Himachal Pradesh colleges for success in their mission.

I wish you all a happy Christmas and New Year. May God bless you.

Now I would like to answers some of the questions asked by you.

1. Globalisation sets a standard for our country, how can be make sure that India benefits from globalisation? - Eashini Saraswat, St. Bede?s College.

Ans.In a globalized economy we have to be competitive. That is the only way we can get maximum benefit from globalization.

2. It seems that honesty and hardwork do not always reap benefits, what do you have to say? - Ankita Sood, St. Bede?s College.

Ans. It is somewhat sad that our children have to feel this way. I get such a question in many parts of the country. But I am confident that if you young people decide to make the situation different you will succeed. We always encounter problems when you do good work. You should perceiver defeat the problem and become the master of the situation.

3. What message would you give to the Indian youth, so that they will be patriotic and love India? - Annie Bakshi, St. Bede?s College.

Ans. We should remind ourselves of the suffering and sacrifices made by our great leaders during the 19th and 20th century in achieving the freedom for our country which was our first vision. This hard earned freedom is to be preserved and nurtured. That can come only through the patriotism and love to the country by the present generation. That means we should work to transform our nation into a developed nation by the year 2020.

4. India is a Nuclear Power today. How soon will India become Super Power? - Ankush Thakur, Rajeev Gandhi Government Degree College.

Ans. India is a Nuclear weapon state. No first use is our policy. India will become a developed nation by 2020.

5. Since India is a labour abundant country and world is moving towards capitalism; how can we take care of both a labour and our efforts towards capitalism in technology intensive environment today? - Hemant Gupta, Rajeev Gandhi Government Degree College.

Ans. Technology has not reduced the quantum of job opportunity. Only it has done is the type of job a person does has changed. We have to constantly retrain ourselves for working in technologically changing environment. Everyone in the country will have an opportunity to work and contribute.

6. Can the younger generation hope to get regular and permanent jobs in future? - Smirit and Shweta, Rajeev Gandhi Government Degree College.

Ans. My recommendation is the younger generation must get trained to become entrepreneurs. If you create enterprises instead of job seeking you will be job providers.

7. Sir, what should be the girl?s role in Independent India? - Vijaya Sharma, Rajkiya Kanya Mahavidyalya.

(or)

8. Sir, what is your message for girls in India? - Maria Rehman, Rajkiya Kanya Mahavidyalya.

Ans.There is no difference between a girl or a boy. All are equally responsible to participate in the movement of transforming India into a developed nation. Today girls are excelling in all fields such as law, medical, engineering, management including armed forces.

9. Sir, since education is the basis of development, so how can we achieve basic education everywhere in India? - Vartika Sharma, Rajkiya Kanya Mahavidyalya.

Ans.The EDUSAT has been launched on 20th September 2004. With the EDUSAT in orbit through universal tele-education system we can reach any part of the country, however, remote it is. A good teacher can interact from Himachal Pradesh to Tamil Nadu or Orissa. This is the way we can achieve basic education anywhere. You are also aware of the Right to Education Bill which provides for compulsory education for the children in the age group of six to fourteen.

10. Sir, you have been a big supporter of the ambitious river-linking project. Don?t you think that it would be a big threat to the ecology of the region? - Akhilesh Negi, Government College Sanjauli.

Ans.Ecological preservation and afforestation is an integral part of this project. Hence, there is no threat to the ecology of the region.



11. Sir, how do you relate spirituality to science? - Angel Chauhan, Government College Sanjauli.

Ans. Both aim to establish the truth. (If time permits Church story can be narrated) Thumba Story.

12. Sir, how can the knowledge of Nuclear Science be used for the betterment of humanity? -Sudershan Singh, Government College Sanjauli.

Ans.Nuclear power plant, irradiation and preservation of perishable agricultural commodities, nuclear medicine and sterilization of medical equipment are some of the applications of nuclear science for the betterment of humanity.

13. What is the need to generate huge human resource in sciences if there is no human resource management? As all these are leading to unemployment. -Jog Raj, Deptt. of Biotechnology,Himachal Pradesh University.

Ans.Today all the activities in the planet are technology driven. Hence, science education is an important part of our education system for our growth. The unemployment is to be tackled through entrepreneurship and creation of enterprises.

14. What is the missing link between new emerging science and common man? -Monica Sharma, Deptt. of Biotechnology.

Ans. The missing link between science and common man is slowly vanishing. We see the use of mobile telephone, internet and ICT products being used at all levels. Also, the developed India mission through PURA aims at the use of technology for uplifting the common man.

15. What is the flaw in our planning or in infrastructure that most of our University students prefer foreign University or institutions and why we are not able to control the brain drain of our students and academicians? -Vinod Kumar, Deptt. of Bio-Technology, HP University

Ans. There are branded institutions available in the country for carrying out research. Still some people prefer to go to foreign universities. In the last decade there has been consistent effort to improve the infrastructure of many of our laboratories and universities. In a country where 30 million graduates are produced every year if few go abroad for education or employment I would not consider it as a brain drain. Their movement creates a connectivity between the family and the institution which can add to our knowledge base.

16. How do you correlate Science and religion? Shri Poonam K Dhiman, Deptt. of Chemistry, HP University.

Ans. Both try to establish the truth.

17. In your view what is the single factor which can change India from a developing nation to developed one. -Sandeep Chauhan, Deptt. of Chemistry, HP University.

Ans. The ignited mind of the youth.

18. Hon?ble President, the students are facing insecurity in research field due to narrow scope presently. What discourages them to continue with research and prefer to shift towards other carrier options. So what are your suggestions to maintain the scientific temperament among students? -Sunil Pathak, Deptt. of Bio-Sciences, HP University.

Ans. As a scientist I would suggest you fix your goal. Work towards it persistently. Do not be discouraged by problems arising in between. This should not become the reason for change. Persevere and pursue you will succeed.

19. What according to you is your major achievement / contribution to the scientific community? - Guarav Kapoor, Deptt. of Bio-Sciences, HP University.

Ans.For some time I worked on satellite launch vehicles. Later, I was developing missiles. I participated in the nuclear test. I also worked to create a document India 2020 ? a vision for the nation.

20. Science answers the question ?How? but not ?why? i.e. how it happens but not why it happens. Why it is so?

-Rakesh Kumar, Deptt. of Bio- Sciences, HP University

Ans.When we ask the question ?why? to a certain new phenomena, scientific methods gives the answer. When you use the answer and explain to others, it looks like ?how?.

21. Does human being a new catastrophic agent of nature? Why he is so eager to destroy nature or nature is playing with him? -Ved Pradash, Deptt. of Bio-Sciences, HP University.

Ans.Human being has got two qualities. Angelic and demonic. Ideally we should aim to be angelic. But in practice it does not always happen.

22. The use and misuse of any technology depends upon the brain? How can we provide the right technology in the hand of right brain? -Nanda Elaugbam, Deptt. of Bio-Sciences, HP University.

Ans.The use of technology cannot be changed. We have to only propagate the right use to the user.

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