Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam: Former President of India
  Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam    
BackHome » Speeches

24-12-2003 : Saifai, Etawah Dist., UP

Power of the Ignited Minds

I am indeed delighted to interact with the young students of Uttar Pradesh in this beautiful village complex at Saifai. I realize the youth assembled here represent nearly 5 crores youth spread in various parts of the State. I would like to greet all the students, teachers and principals assembled here. I would like to share some of my thoughts on the power of ignited minds.

Thinking is the 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 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.


Indian visionaries

I am reminded of some of the visionaries who transformed India to build core competency in their respective fields using technology and innovative management as a tool. A political leader Mr. C. Subramaniam and an agricultural scientist Prof. M. S. Swaminathan in partnership with many scientists, administrators and farmers brought out the green revolution in the 60's. Otherwise, we would have continued to have ship to mouth existence in respect of food. During the same time, Dr. Verghese Kurien spearheaded the White Revolution to make India the world's largest producer of milk. Dr. Homi Bhabha led research and projects in nuclear energy, resulting in substantial advances in power generation, medicine, irradiation of vegetables and nuclear weapon etc.,

Prof. Vikram Sarabhai unfurled the space mission for India in 1970 that we should build Satellite Launch Vehicle capability, to put our communication satellites in the geo-synchronous orbit and remote sensing satellites in the polar orbit. Also, he envisaged that launch vehicles built in India should be launched from Indian soil. This one visionary thought led to intensive research in multiple fields of science and space technology. Many of us had the fortune to be part of Prof. Vikram Sarabhai's vision. Myself and my team participated in India's first satellite launch vehicle programme to put the Rohini satellite in the orbit. Today, India with her 20,000 scientific, technological and support staff in multiple space research centres, supported by about 300 industries and academic institutions, has the capability to build any type of satellite launch vehicle to place remote sensing, communication and meteorology satellites in different orbits and space application has become part of our daily life. Dear young friends, you have seen how visionaries of a nation bring about economic transformation and technological change. I would like you to emulate these visionaries, dream and work for transforming India into a developed nation.


What Causes human Bliss?

Once I was addressing over one lakh youth at Kochi in Kerala. One of the students from Amrita Institute of Technology, Amritapuri asked me an interesting and thoughtful question. Her name is S. Sreebala. The question was:

Being a person of such caliber, as to have achieved more than one can dream of in a life time, we are going to ask you a very difficult question. Could you select one achievement of so many, that you could place at a pedestal higher than others, for the reason that it satisfies and provides contentment the most and is the most fulfilling.

My answer to the question was through a few experiences as follows:


a. Nobility in leadership

Two decades ago while I was working at ISRO, I had the best of education which won't come from any university. I will narrate that incident. I was given a task by Prof. Satish Dhawan to develop the first satellite launch vehicle SLV-3, to put ROHINI Satellite in orbit. This was one of the largest high technology space programmes undertaken in 1973. The whole space technology community, men and women, were geared up for this task. Thousands of scientists, engineers and technicians worked resulting in the realisation of the first SLV-3 launch on 10th August 1979. SLV-3 took off in the early hours and the first stage worked beautifully. But the mission could not achieve its objectives, as the control system in 2nd stage malfunctioned. There was a press conference at Sriharikota, after the event. Prof. Dhawan took me to the press conference. And there he announced that he takes responsibility for not achieving the mission, even though I was the project director and the mission director. When we launched SLV-3 on 18th July 1980, successfully injecting the Rohini Satellite into the orbit, again there was a press conference and Prof. Dhawan put me in the front to share the success story with the press. What we learn from this event is that the leader gives the credit for success to those who worked for it, and he absorbs the failures. This is the leadership. The scientific community in India has the fortune to work with such leaders, which resulted in many accomplishments. This success generated great happiness among all my team members.


b. Pokhran incident

On 11th May 1998 the then Chairman, Atomic Energy Commission Dr R Chidambaram and myself and some of our team members were working for the results of the underground nuclear test followed by another two. We were very close to the test site and the countdown was progressing. At T-5 seconds, hundreds of parameters from instrumentation were displayed. The mission was to take place in a few seconds. At T-0, we witnessed the whole earth shrugged and thundered in front of us and all around. We saw part of the earth raising. What a powerful energy India generated through nuclear weapons?. This was another achievement which made me and my team happy.


c. Agni launch

The third event is about a missile system. On 11th April 1999, the AGNI-II took off with computer command from the beautiful island range. 600 parameters from the missile were monitored in real time through a series of radars, telemetry stations and ship borne instrumentations networked with our own communication satellites. The AGNI with its payload reached the pre-determined target, 2000 kms away. The partnership of many labs with academic institutions and industries brought this important success and it is another triumph for self reliance, amidst several technology denials by developed countries. This event also made me happy.


d. India 2020 - A Vision document

I was the Chairman of the TIFAC (Technology Information, Forecasting and Assessment Council) for nearly a decade. The council evolved with the help of experts a road map on how to transform India into a developed country by 2020. Nearly twenty volumes of documents were generated and presented at that time to the then Prime Minister in 1996. There was certain experimental work with certain funding allotted for the project. This funding was utilized to see how productivity per hectare in Bihar can be multiplied, milk production in Punjab can be enhanced and the sugarcane quality and production can improve through various missions. All these activities arising out of India's millennium mission 2020, generated keen interest in the country. On 15 Aug 2002, our Prime Minister announced that India will become a developed nation by 2020. This also gave me tremendous amount of happiness.


e. Joy of removing the pain

The next important event I would like to share with you is about the fitment of FRO (Floor Reaction Orthosis) caliper to a polio affected child. During my visit to one of the hospitals in Hyderabad, I found many children were struggling to walk with an artificial limb weighing over 3 kgs. At the request of Prof. Prasad of NIMS, Head of Orthopedic department at that time, I asked my AGNI friends why cannot we use the composite material used for AGNI heat shield for fabricating FROs for polio affected patients? They immediately said it is possible. We worked on this project for sometime and came up with a FRO, weighing around 300 gms in place of 3 kg. Exactly, 1/10th of the weight which the child was carrying. The doctors helped us to fit the new light weight FRO on the child and the child started walking and running around. Her parents were also present. Tears of happiness rolled down on them through the joy of seeing their daughter running with light weight caliper. With the light weight device provided by the hospital she could run, ride a bicycle and do all sorts of things which she had been denied for a long time. The removal of the pain and the freedom attained by the child gave me a state of bliss which I never experienced during any of the four major events which I described earlier.



A nation is great, not because a few people are great, but because everyone in the nation is great. I wish you all to excel in your studies and become Doctors, Engineers, Scientists, Entrepreneurs, Officers of Armed Forces, Teachers, Lawyers, Administrators, Political Leaders and above all the best human beings with traditional value system and societal care. The challenge in the mission of the developed India calls for an important, cohesive and focused efforts of the young. Young friends, think of the billion ignited Indian minds. This is the most powerful resource compared to any resource on the earth, above the earth and below the earth.

Now, I would like to administer an oath for attaining enlightened citizenship. Would you repeat with me? Ten point oath:

1. I will love whatever profession I take up and I will try to excel in it.

2. From now onwards I will teach at least 10 persons to read and write those who cannot read and write.

3. I will plant ten saplings/trees and ensure their growth.

4. I will go to rural and urban areas to reform at least five persons from the habits of addiction and gambling.

5. I will take responsibility for removing the pain of ailing persons.

6. I will participate in the mission of realizing the economic strength of India by combining it with an education with value system and by transforming religion into a spiritual force.

7. I will not support any differentiation on account of community or language.

8. I will lead an honest life free from all corruption and will set an example for others to adopt a transparent way of life.

9. I will always be a friend of the mentally and physically challenged and I will work hard to make them feel normal.

10. I will celebrate the success of my country and my people.

I wish you all success in your missions.




Profile Books Poetry Songs Quotes