Delhi, 29 June 2002
regular visitors may recall that in October 2001 we had posted on
our website the text of a speech made by Dr APJ Abdul Kalam at
Hyderabad. The article is still available under the title ‘My
Vision of India by Dr APJ Abdul Kalam” on our ‘What’s
Hot’ page. He had just retired from service and was speaking to
young people at Andhra University.
may turn out to be the last independent personal speech he may make
for some time, as after his election to the President’s job, the
Cabinet will control what he says. At the time he spoke what was
music to our ears. The views he expressed reflected his vision for
India’s future and the passion he had to see that India took its
place as one of the great nations of the world. His views are as
relevant today as they were at the time and we reproduce the speech
below for all to reread and savour.
Kalam makes three major points and asks for discipline and hard
work. IDC wishes him well as our future Supreme Commander. Not being
married we hope he will marry the cause so dear to his heart.
OF INDIA IS PARAMOUNT and even Adam Smith said " To spend
on Defence is the prime responsibility of the Sovereign.” Now
as the C in C has the task to pass this message to the Nation
and its Leaders and guide them.
IS IMPORTANT and that includes the need for a healthy Economy.
We need to accelerate our growth rate to some 9% annually or the
battle to remove poverty, illiteracy and disease will never be
won. In the region we have to strive for stability and again we
say with confidence –– Musharraf is willing to accept some
cooperation on the LOC but we need to talk to him. India is now
the 11th largest buyer of Foreign defence hardware and yet there
is no transparency. It will be a great strain on the economy as
the Rupee devalues along with the dollar. Yet the Defence site
of MOD displays no tenders enquiries and UK has said it has sold
64 items worth $64 million to India in the last eight months.
NEEDS CONFIDENCE and that can come from the Leaders knowing
their jobs and trying to do their best to eradicate the
emotional issues and put them on the back burner –– like
Hindu BJP, Hindutva and temple goings on. Government subsidies
and pampering those who are parasites on the system. There is
need to tone up the bureaucracy and ensure they face some
leaders are due for a reshuffle and maybe Mamta will be in and Sinha
will be out, but what we need is efficiency and cohesion. The new
team needs to lead India ahead and forget thinking of lining their
pockets. As Ministers they have to think through all issues and
policies with honesty and clarity, and take sane advice if they are
not experts. India as a non-terrorist Hindu dominated secular state
is well poised for growth and history is giving us a tide to ride
can be the best destination for foreign investment and tourism if we
stick to policies. India cannot wish away globalisation and we must
take full advantage of the help that USA, Europe and Russia can
this juncture we need to emulate the example of SRI LANKA, which
under an enlightened PM Ranil Wickramesinghe, has in just six recent
months gone about changing the country's life and mindset. Peace and
stability are essential for progress. The economy and day-to-day
life are looking up. He has decided to talk to LTTE's Pirabhakaran
via Norway and see the ban on him is removed in July before the
peace talks in Bangkok and opened skies to boost earnings from
tourism. The troops are vacating schools and hotels in Jaffna and
educational institutions are being reopened to see that the Youth
Air Force, which was running charters has given way to the private
company Helitours. PM Ranil wants an economic partnership with India
and Sonia Gandhi rightly said only economic cooperation will lead to
strategic understanding. PM Ranil knows how important USA is and is
getting all cooperation from the West. President Bush and PM Blair
have assured all help and $580 m have already poured in to Sri Lanka
in London is that the Indian Oil Corporation will take over the very
strategically located Oil Tank Farms at Tricomalee and the Indian
Navy will provide security. Since Norway's Erik Solheim is the key
to the peace talks India's Ambassador there Nirupam Sen is being
prematurely posted to Colombo and exchanges places with Ambassador
Gopalakrishna Gandhi. USA is concerned and has signed the ACSA an
Agreement for Acquisition and Cross Servicing wherein US will use
Sri Lankan facilities for their Armed Forces and bunkering of their
VISIONS OF INDIA
Dr APJ Abdul Kalam
have three visions for India. In 3000 years of our history people
from all over the world have come and invaded us, captured our
lands, conquered our minds. From Alexander onwards, the Greeks, the
Turks, the Moguls, the Portuguese, the British, the French, the
Dutch, all of them came and looted us, took over what was ours. Yet
we have not done this to any other nation. We have not conquered
anyone. We have not grabbed their land, their culture, their history
and tried to enforce our way of life on them. Why? because we
respect the freedom of others. That is why my first vision is that
of FREEDOM. I believe that India got its first vision of this in
1857, when we started the war of independence. It is this freedom
that we must protect and nurture and build on. If we are not free,
no one will respect us.
second vision for India is DEVELOPMENT. For fifty years we have been
a developing nation. It is time we see ourselves as a developed
nation. We are among the top 5 nations of the world in terms of GDP.
We have 10 percent growth rate in most areas. Our poverty levels are
falling. Our achievements are being globally recognized today. Yet
we lack the self-confidence to see ourselves as a developed nation,
self-reliant and self-assured. Isn't this incorrect?
have a third vision. India must STAND UP to the world. Because I
believe that unless India stands up to the world, no one will
respect us. Only strength respects strength. We must be strong not
only as a military power but also as an economic power. Both must go
hand-in-hand. My good fortune was to have worked with three great
minds. Dr. Vikram Sarabhai of the Dept of Space, Professor Satish
Dhawan, who succeeded him and Dr Brahm Prakash, father of nuclear
material. I was lucky to have worked with all three of them closely
and consider this the great opportunity of my life.
see four milestones in my career: ONE –– the 20 years I spent in
ISRO. I was given the opportunity to be the project director of
India's first satellite launch vehicle, SLV3, the one that launched
Rohini. These years played a very important role in my life as a
Scientist. TWO –– after my ISRO years, I joined DRDO and got a
chance to be a part of India's missile programme. It was my second
bliss when Agni met its mission requirements in 1994. THREE ––
The Dept of Atomic Energy and DRDO had this tremendous partnership
in the recent nuclear tests, on May 11 and 13, 1998. This was the
third bliss. The joy of participating with my team in these nuclear
tests and proving to the world that India can make it, that we are
no longer a developing nation but one of them. It made me feel very
proud as an Indian. The fact that we have now developed for Agni a
re-entry structure, for which we have developed this new material, a
very light material called carbon-carbon. FOUR –– one day an
orthopaedic surgeon from the Nizam Institute of Medical Sciences
visited my laboratory. He lifted the material and found it so light
that he took me to his hospital and showed me his patients. There
were these little girls and boys with heavy metallic callipers
weighing over three Kg each, dragging their feet around. He said to
me, “ Please remove the pain of my patients”. In three weeks, we
made these Floor reaction Orthosis 300 gram callipers and took them
to the orthopaedic centre. The children didn't believe their eyes.
From dragging around a three kg load on their legs, they could now
move around! These patients’ parents had tears in their eyes. That
was my fourth bliss!
is the media here so negative? Why are we in India so embarrassed to
recognize our own strengths, our achievements? We are such a great
nation. We have so many amazing success stories but we refuse to
acknowledge them. Why? We are the first in milk production. We are
number one in remote sensing satellites. We are the second largest
producer of wheat. We are the second largest producer of rice. Look
at Dr. Sudarshan, he has transferred the tribal village into a
self-sustaining, self-driving unit. There are millions of such
achievements but our media is only obsessed with the bad news,
failures and disasters.
was in Tel Aviv once and I was reading the Israeli newspaper. It was
the day after a lot of attacks and bombardments and deaths had taken
place. The Hamas had struck. But the front page of the newspaper had
the picture of a Jewish gentleman who in five years had transformed
his desert land into an orchard and a granary. It was this inspiring
picture that everyone woke up to. The gory details of killings,
bombardments, deaths, were inside in the newspaper, buried among
India we only read about death, sickness, terrorism, crime. Why are
we so NEGATIVE? Another question: Why are we, as a nation so
obsessed with foreign things? We want foreign TVs, foreign shirts.
We want foreign technology. Why this obsession with everything
imported. Do we not realize that self-respect comes with
was in Hyderabad giving this lecture, when a 14-year old girl asked
me for my autograph. I asked her what her goal in life was? She
replied, “I want to live in a developed India.” For her, you and
I will have to build this developed India. You must proclaim, India
is not an under-developed nation; it is a highly developed nation.
me to come back with vengeance. Got 10 minutes for your country? YOU
say that our government is inefficient. YOU say that our laws are
too old. YOU say that the municipality does not pick up the garbage.
YOU say that the phones don't work, the railways are a joke, the
airline is the worst in the world, mails never reach their
destination. YOU say that our country has been fed to the dogs and
is the absolute pits. YOU say, say and say. What do YOU do about it?
a person on his way to Singapore. Give him a name –– YOURS. Give
him a face –– YOURS. YOU walk out of the airport and you are at
your International best. In Singapore you don't throw cigarette
butts on the roads or eat in the stores. YOU are as proud of their
Underground Links as they are. You pay $5 (approx. Rs.60) to drive
through Orchard Road (equivalent of Mahim Causeway or Pedder Road)
between 5 PM and 8 PM. YOU comeback to the parking lot to punch your
parking ticket if you have over stayed in a restaurant or a shopping
mall, irrespective of your status identity. In Singapore you don't
say anything, DO YOU?
wouldn't dare to eat in public during Ramadan, in Dubai. YOU would
not dare to go out without your head covered in Jeddah. YOU would
not dare to buy an employee of the telephone exchange in London at
10 pounds (Rs.650) a month to, "see to it that my STD and ISD
calls are billed to someone else." YOU would not dare to speed
beyond 55 mph (88 kmph) in Washington and then tell the traffic cop,
"Jaanta hai sala main kaun hoon (Do you know who I am?). I am
so and so's son. Take your two bucks and get lost."
wouldn't chuck an empty coconut shell anywhere other than in the
garbage pail on the beaches in Australia and New Zealand. Why don't
YOU spit Paan on the streets of Tokyo? Why don't YOU use examination
jockeys or buy fake certificates in Boston? We are still talking of
the same YOU. YOU who can respect and conform to a foreign system in
other countries but cannot in your own. You who will throw papers
and cigarettes on the road the moment you touch Indian ground. If
you can be an involved and appreciative citizen in an alien country
why cannot YOU be the same here in India.
in an interview, the famous ex-municipal commissioner of Bombay Mr
Tinaikar had a point to make. "Rich people's dogs are walked on
the streets to leave their affluent droppings all over the
place," he said. "And then the same people turn around to
criticize and blame the authorities for inefficiency and dirty
pavements. What do they expect the officers to do? Go down with a
broom everytime their dog feels the pressure in his bowels? In
America every dog owner has to clean up after his pet has done the
job. Same in Japan. Will the Indian citizen do that here?" He's
go to the polls to choose a government and after that forfeit all
responsibility. We sit back wanting to be pampered and expect the
government to do everything for us whilst our contribution is
totally negative. We expect the government to clean up but we are
not going to stop chucking garbage all over the place nor are we
going to stop to pick a up a stray piece of paper and throw it in
the bin. We expect the railways to provide clean bathrooms but we
are not going to learn the proper use of bathrooms. We want Indian
Airlines and Air India to provide the best of food and toiletries,
but we are not going to stop pilfering at the least opportunity.
This applies even to the staff, who are known not to pass on the
service to the public.
it comes to burning social issues like those related to women,
dowry, girl child and others, we make loud drawing room
protestations and continue to do the reverse at home. Our excuse?
"It's the whole system which has to change, how will it matter
if I alone forego my sons' rights to a dowry." So who's going
to change the system? What does a system consist of? Very
conveniently for us it consists of our neighbors, other households,
other cities, other communities and the government. But definitely
not me and YOU.
it comes to us actually making a positive contribution to the system
we lock ourselves along with our families into a safe cocoon and
look into the distance at countries far away and wait for a Mr.
Clean to come along and work miracles for us with a majestic sweep
of his hand. Or we leave the country and run away. Like lazy cowards
hounded by our fears we run to America to bask in their glory and
praise their system. When New York becomes insecure we run to
England. When England experiences unemployment, we take the next
flight out to the Gulf. When the Gulf is war struck, we demand to be
rescued and brought home by the Indian government. Everybody is out
to abuse and rape the country. Nobody thinks of feeding the system.
Our conscience is mortgaged to money.
Indians, this heart –– pouring from a self-made great Indian is
highly thought inductive, calls for a great deal of introspection
and pricks one's conscience too....I am echoing J.F.Kennedy's words
to his fellow Americans to relate to Indians..... "If you want
to know what you can do for India; just DO
WHAT HAS TO BE DONE TO MAKE INDIA -- WHAT AMERICA
AND OTHER WESTERN COUNTRIES ARE TODAY".
do what India needs from us.