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Let Us Keep Aside Non-Issues


Thursday 14 August 2003, by ABDUL KALAM*A.P.J.

Following is the full text of the President’s address to the nation on the eve of Independence Day, published in Outlook India, August the 14th 2003.

’We will not be remembered for how many churches, mosques or temples our generation added, but only if we give our younger generation a prosperous and safe India resulting out of economic prosperity coupled with our civilizational heritage’

My dear citizens of India,

On the eve of the 57th Independence Day, I extend to you my best wishes for your happiness and prosperity. My salutations to all of you at home and abroad. Let us on this occasion remember with gratitude the selfless service rendered by the personnel of the armed forces and also those of the para-military forces, who guard our frontiers on the land, at the sea and in the air.

Let me dedicate this Independence Day broadcast to those great souls who pioneered the Independence movement. We remember them with reverence and gratitude, not for their religious, political, language, caste and creed affiliations, but for the 90-year saga of sacrifices to realise the singular and noble vision of heralding an independent India.

Let us for a moment pause to reflect what it is that for which we would like to be remembered by the future generations. Will we be remembered for how many churches our generation has added, will we be remembered for how many mosques our generation has added, will we be remembered for how many temples our generation has added or will we be remembered for how many gurudwaras our generation has added? No, not at all. We will be remembered only if we give to our younger generation a prosperous and safe India resulting out of economic prosperity coupled with our civilizational heritage.

At this point of time I would like to share with you an experience which I had at Raj Bhavan, Srinagar during my recent visit to the three regions of Jammu & Kashmir. A number of children from different schools of the city and neighborhood interacted with me and sang with me the national anthem. At the end of our interaction, three students approached me and introduced themselves. One was a Hindu girl, second was a Muslim boy, and third was a Sikh boy. They asked me - "Mr. President, please tell us now when will we become prosperous, free from poverty and fear of terrorist attack? Allow us to go on a mission to penetrate the minds of the extremists and bring about unity of minds." These children represent the 300 million strong youth of the nation. The questions of the students engulfed me, resulting into a poetic verse:

"Oh Almighty, create thoughts and actions in the minds of the people of my nation, so that they live united.

Light the minds of the religious leaders of my country to evolve a bridge among religions with compassion and love.

Embed the thought ’Nation is bigger than the individual or party’ in the minds of the leaders.

May God, bless my people to work and transform the country into a prosperous nation in a decade."

In one year’s time I visited 23 States and three Union Territories. I interacted with various cross sections of people; and exclusive dialogue with Members of Parliament and legislators of certain states and also presented the developed India plan to the joint session of the Parliament in Feb 2003.

The dialogue with the people, and written responses from many citizens gave me an insight into the aspirations of the people to get into action of transforming India into a developed nation, in less than two decades. Whether it was a remote village in Kerala, or a far away rural set up in Nagaland or Uri in J&K the area close to Line of Control, I would like to emphatically state that the feelings and aspirations for prosperous India are the same.

For India to become a developed nation, we must give thrust to the Nation’s core competencies. The GDP has to grow annually by 8 to 10% with consistency over years instead of the current 5%. This year, it is reassuring that our economy in three sectors - agriculture, manufacturing and service are in the ascent phase. If we put united efforts to keep up the momentum we can reach 8% growth rate in about a year. We should ensure that the benefits of this growth should reach the economically weaker sections of the society.

We should reinforce our gains in the agriculture, power, ICT, industrial and education sectors, space, nuclear, and defence technologies, chemical, pharmaceutical and infrastructural industries, oil exploration and refining, and more importantly on the critical technologies.

When we are consolidating our strengths, we should develop increased safety consciousness to prevent loss of valuable human and material resources in road, rail, air, power, industrial and other accidents. The relief mechanisms have to reach the accident sites at right time.

The core competencies, resources and safety consciousness should be the basis on which the country can embark on a national mission for transformation.

We need to evolve and develop specific integrated missions sector-wise to take the country forward on the path to self-sustaining development. These missions will provide the thrust for the realization of developed India in a time bound manner. They will also provide large scale employment opportunity for the youth through creation of various types of industries and enhancement of the national infrastructure. I would like to discuss five specific missions.

First mission on the Networking of Rivers is under active consideration of my Government and from the task team evolving the plan of action; we must move on to a mission mode programme including the ecological enhancement plan for executing the project. This mission will eliminate the periodical problem of drought and floods experienced in a number of river basin states and provide both water and power security. In addition nation has to embark on water harvesting and desalination of sea water as national missions.

Availability of high quality uninterrupted power should be ensured at an affordable price, which is key to economic growth. This is our second mission. The existing capacity of about 100 thousand Megawatts would need tripling by the year 2020. To achieve it, apart from hydel, thermal and nuclear power systems, we need to give thrust on sustainable energy resources like biomass, wind and solar farms of 800 to 1000 MW capacity and efficient transmission and distribution.

Providing urban facilities to rural areas is another important mission about which I have talked to you earlier. In the long term interest, it is necessary for us to make the living in the villages attractive proposition for our people by reinforcing the rural habitat and providing modern economic linkages. To achieve this, economically viable cluster of villages have to be created through a mission mode programme into physical, electronic, and knowledge connectivities, leading to the self sustained economic prosperity for the groups of villages.

It is essential that PURA has to become a business proposition to be run by small scale industrialists, entrepreneurs, and societal establishments.

Mission of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and related services is one of the wealth generators for the nation. We should aspire to increase the business volume by 15-20 times in ten years duration. The benefit of ICT must reach all parts of the country through telemedicine, tele-education and e-governance. We have to embark on creating ICT infrastructure and developing knowledge products to promote selective self reliance in the ICT Sector and thus achieving a competitive edge globally.

With vast civilisational heritage of the country, from the Himalayas to Kanyakumari, J&K, Central India, North Eastern states, Bihar, Western States, the large coastal line, Andaman Nicobar and Lakshadeep Islands have a lot to attract the tourists. After my visit to almost all the regions of the country, I have realised that the tourism industry has a tremendous potential for wealth generation and should operate as our fifth mission with higher targets. To succeed in this mission the infrastructural requirements are very essential and are to be improved. Thrust is required to be given for the inland water navigation, hotels, communication and tourist promotion. If we promote sustainable tourism, it will become India’s core competence.

These mission areas need action and will provide the multiplier effect and give the necessary momentum to all sectors of the economy.

During my visit to rural areas in certain States, I realized that hard earned money of the rural people, instead of being deployed for the education of the children and environmental improvements including their habitat, was being wasted in undesirable practices like alcoholism and other addictions. In certain States I realized that the ratio of male and female was not proportionate. These prompted me to evolve a declaration in consultation with the rural population for administering it to the village citizens. They participated in it with enthusiasm. The oath for enriching the village life is as follows:

? Children are our precious wealth.

? We will give equal importance for male and female children in providing education and rights for growth of our society.

? Earnings come out of hard work. We will not waste it in gambling and liquor. We will become the role models for our children.

? We need to tell our children about the importance of education as learning gives knowledge and knowledge makes the children succeed.

? We need to jointly protect our forest and prevent pollution.

? We will plant at least five trees/saplings.

It is essential that, the reputed leaders and social workers while visiting the rural areas can administer this oath in a similar way. Social workers, women self-help groups and non-governmental organisations have to take up this task as a mission. For India to develop we need vibrant villages.

Divisive forces use terrorism as a tool in the name of ethnic groupism, religious fundamentalism and sometimes political ambitions as a rationale for terrorism leading to conflicts among the nations.

People are used as war tools. Within the next two decades, we will encounter a totally new situation of acute shortages of water, energy and minerals. No single nation will be able to handle the situation by itself. Humanity will require mega missions for harnessing solar energy, drinking water from sea water through desalination process and bringing minerals from other planets. In such a situation, the present reasons for conflict will become insignificant and unwarranted. I call upon the neighbouring countries to see this perspective and have a bigger vision. India has definitely taken a significant peace initiative with all its neighbours. The recent visit of Prime Minister to China definitely paves the way for resolving certain outstanding issues.

Recent terrorist attack in J & K through suicide bombing resulting in number of casualties, of both service and civilian personnel, is a cause for serious concern. No religion had mandated killing others as a requirement for its sustenance or promotion. These cowardly acts borne out of utter frustration deserve severe condemnation and actions for preventing recurrence of such events.

I am convinced that developed India 2020 vision transforming into a mission is a national challenge and requires nationwide participation. While my government is committed for such missions, every citizen of India should ask in what way he or she can contribute to these missions directly or indirectly. It is difficult to spell out all specific possibilities of tangible contribution by our citizens. I would like to mention a few here as examples:

- Educationists should build the capacities of spirit of inquiry, creativity, entrepreneurial and moral leadership among the students and become their role model. Today the professional education is becoming a commercial venture. It is not affordable for even middle class people, what to talk of people below poverty line. The State governments, universities and the management of educational institutions should review, streamline the admission process and bring down the cost of education without sacrificing the quality. Education is enlightenment; it is not trade.

- In the health sector, the major challenge is to develop Anti-HIV/AIDS vaccine to prevent further spread of the disease. Another humane issue is to ensure that HIV affected children are not discriminated in schools and hospitals. It is essential that voluntary organizations and religious leaders of the locality provide a humane touch to these members of the society by removing the fear from the minds of the people. Can we dream and act for a HIV free India?

- The farming community needs to increase their productivity through the mission Second Green revolution using technological advances. Also dry land cultivation needs a thrust. The large-scale industries have to increase their productivity and quality so that the market share can be increased for economic growth and GDP. They should aim to become multinational companies and global leaders.

- Judiciary is a prime pillar in our democratic set up and should be able to administer natural justice with speed and nobility.

- Media has to become a partner and positive critic in national development and celebrate the individual successes and the collective efforts of rural India.

- The Government, with the support of R&D labs, can provide technological upgradation to small-scale industries and remove procedural and systemic bottlenecks in executing missions. Actions emanating from the Government in all their public dealings should become fully transparent through E-Governance.

- Parliamentarians and Legislators belonging to each constituency should become mission facilitators for their constituency and also resolve inter/intra - constituency conflicts. I am reminded of a Tamil epic which provides the code of conduct for the people in high and responsible positions: It means, people who are in high and responsible positions, if they go against righteousness, the righteousness itself will get transformed into a destroyer. Whoever deviates from righteousness, whether they are individual or states they are responsible for their own actions.

If a country is to be corruption free and become a nation of beautiful minds, I strongly feel that there are three key societal members who can make a difference. They are father, mother and the teacher. Let us join together and launch this movement from home and school to eradicate corruption.

We are a large country; we are also blessed with natural resources and highly motivated young human resource. We have to prioritize our thoughts on national development and make all other issues as "non-issues". This will ensure focus and thrust for the development process. And it will prevent dissipation of energy and resources on the non productive issues.

I appeal to the political leaders, religious leaders, opinion makers, media personnel and all Indian citizens to place a moratorium on all issues which are impediments to the development of the nation, from now and pledge ourselves to make the missions of Developed India a reality.

This will be the greatest legacy that we can proudly leave behind for our next generation. Let us sacrifice our today so that our children can have a better tomorrow. I pray to the Almighty to provide us the wisdom, knowledge, physical resources and ability to work hard to succeed in our missions. Allow me again, my dear citizens to wish you a very purposeful and happy Independence Day tomorrow.

’Jai Hind’

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