"I have three visions for India. In 3000 Years of our history,
people from all over the world have come and invaded us, captured
our land, conquered our minds. From Alexander on wards, 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, and their history and tried to enforce
our way of life on them. Why? Because we respect the freedom of
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
My 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 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?
I 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.
I see four milestones in my career: Twenty years I spent in ISRO.
I was given the opportunity to be the project director for India's
first satellite launch vehicle, SLV3. The one that launched Rohini.
These years played a very important role in my life of Scientist.
After my ISRO years, I joined DRDO and got a chance to be the part
of India's guided missile program. It was my second bliss when Agni
met its mission requirements in 1994. The Dept of Atomic Energy
and DRDO had this tremendous partnership in the recent nuclear tests,
on May 11 and 13. 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 act 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.
One day an orthopaedic surgeon from 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. Their parents had tears in their eyes. That was my fourth
Why 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 in the bad news and failures and disasters.
I 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 into an orchid and a granary. It was
inspiring picture that everyone woke up to. The gory details of
killings, bombardments, deaths, were inside in the newspaper, buried
among other news.
In 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, we want foreign
shirts. We want foreign
technology. Why this obsession with everything imported. Do we not
realize that self-respect comes with self-reliance? I 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 is. 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.
Do you have 10 minutes? Allow me to come back with a vengeance.
Got 10 minutes for your country? If yes then read; otherwise, choice
is yours. 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, mail never reaches
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?
Take 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 come back to the parking lot to punch your parking
ticket if you have over stayed in a restaurant or a shopping mall
your status identity. In Singapore you don't say anything, DO YOU?
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 km/h) in Washington
and then tell the traffic cop, "Jaanta hai main kaun hoon (Do
you know who I am?). I am so and so's son. Take your two bucks and
get lost." YOU wouldn't chuck an empty coconut shell anywhere
other than the garbage pail on the beaches in Australia and New
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 you 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
appreciative citizen in an alien country, why cannot you be the
same here in India?
Once 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 every
time 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 right.
We 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 is known not to pass on the service
to the public. When 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 neighbours, other households,
other cities, other communities and the government.
But definitely not me and YOU. When 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 & 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.
Dear Indians, The article 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
Dr A. P. J. Abdul Kalaam
PRESIDENT OF INDIA