Thoughts of Dr A.P.J.

Abdul Kalam

Compiled & Edited By
n a t e m o N S m l a r u a e t u N a G


Thoughts for Youth The biggest problem Indian youth face, I feel, is a lack of clarity of vision, a lack of direction. What I want to say is that no one, however poor, unprivileged small need feel disheartened about life. Problems are a part of life. Suffering is essence of success. I will not be presumptions enough to say that my life can be a role model for anybody; but some poor child living in an obscure place, in an underprivileged social setting may find a little solace in the way my destiny has been shaped. It could perhaps motivate such children liberate themselves from the bondage of their illusory backwardness and hopelessness. Irrespective of where they are right now, they should be aware that God is with them and when He is with them, who can be against them? Inspirations There is no doubt that childhood inspirations laid the foundation of my life. I was born in Rameshwaram Island. The great ocean, its mighty waves and the enormous sky that enveloped everything that you can see did cast their magic spell on me. Nature is the greatest source of inspiration for mankind. As a small boy, I never got tired of sitting on the sandy beach and gazing at the sea for hours on end. I would imagine that the ocean told me many things. Sure it did and every time a new thing! The many moods of the ocean, its untiring waves, the gentle breeze on the seashore, the high and low tides, and the sea's joyous swell on the full moon night - all these, I thought, closely reflected the humans' life pattern in its many perspectives. All human beings get inspired by seeing, hearing or reading something that strikes a spark in them. The source of inspiration can be a person, a book, a word, an object, even an animal or a bird. In order to retain the impact of an inspiration and convert it into an accomplishment, however, we have to make a conscious effort. When we get inspired, an idea is imbibed in us and we try to expand and embellish that idea. Man saw the bird and was inspired by its flight. Man's sustained inquest after the inspired thought led him to realize the flying machines. Inspiration is the very basis of human endeavor that has spawned with time an exponential trait in the advancement of mankind. The pace of human progress in the early centuries could not have been comparable to what has been possible in the recent times. It was because of the combined and cumulative effect of the achievements that were behind him and the continually evolving scientific temperament with which man looked at every thing that inspired him. Moon has been an attraction ever since the first man gaped at it. When it became possible for man to realize the rocket engine to propel himself up, he lost no time to land on its surface. It is a timeless mission of the inspired!


My Moment of Truth My ambition was to become an Airforce pilot. I went to attend interview at Airforce Selection Board at Dehradun. When I was not selected, I was deeply disappointed. For a minute, I thought, my only ambition and only opportunity slipped through my fingers. After trekking to Rishikesh, I met Swami Sivananda. I was struck by his irresistible look, almost child-like smile and gracious manner. I told him my name and he asked why I felt sorrow. I told him about my unsuccessful attempt to join Indian Airforce and my long cherished desire to fly. He smiled, washing away my anxiety almost instantly. Then he said, in a feelable but very deep voice, “Desire when it stems from the heart and spirit when it is pure and intense, and possess awesome electro magnetic energy. This energy is released into the ether each night, as the mind falls into the sleep state. Each morning it returns to the conscious state reinforced with the cosmic currents. That which has been imaged will surely and certainly be manifested. When the student is ready, the teacher will appear. Accept your destiny and go ahead with your life. You are not destined to become an Air Force pilot. What you are destined to become is not revealed now but it is predetermined Forget this failure, as it was essential to lead you to your destined path. Search, instead, for the true purpose of your existence Become one with yourself, my son! Surrender you to the wish of God," Swamiji said. How true! Here was the teacher to show the way to a student who had nearly gone astray! I took a different path with strong desires to lead my life. I fully involved myself in my work, with a strong desire to achieve wherever and whatever work I did. Desires brought forth dreams and dreams brought them into reality. Looking the way back, I feel now how true it is. Desires drive us to achieve the things we wanted to have. We are all born with a divine fire within us. When the desire is pure and intense, the fire gets ignited by the desire. The light which comes out of the fire will energize us and dispel the darkness and we all should strive for keeping up the light for achieving greatness for ourselves and our country. Results from Experiences Yesterday, I received a phone call from a girl hailing from Maharashtra. An IAS aspirant from a very poor family, this girl was supported by her teacher to travel to Delhi. She borrowed two decent dresses for the visit and made a gruelling search to locate a distant relative where she could get shelter. What made her to call me? She said she read the Marathi translation of my book 'Wings of Fire' that dared her to dream and solace and strength to endure her struggle. I felt satisfied in the sense that a few souls could identify themselves with book. They find my life resonating with their own. Poverty is a curse. Forty percent of our people live below poverty line and unless our GDP gallops to double digits, we will remain a land of isolated islands of prosperity and affluence in an ocean of misery and hardships.


What can change the present cast where we appeared to have been trapped as a society? Technology is the only tool that can free us from our shackles – both physical and psychological. The advent of information technology can be seen across the entire cross-section of our lives. Similar spread of technological transformation is needed in the area of healthcare and value-added production. This is the only way to become a developed nation. Fortunately we have all components of technology to succeed – people, material, skills, and infrastructure. The time has come when we come out from our mindset of a suffering civilization and strive for our destiny to be a developed nation. This is the idea that seems to be knocking on our door. Why don't we open it? Empower the Leader I still remember after selecting me as the Project Director, Chairman ISRO stated, "I will now on work for the Project Director." Hence the whole organization works for the Project Director. It remained true for the Missile Project too. During the Missile Development Programme a new generation of team leaders emerged – Project Directors, Technology Directors, System Managers, and Group Heads. These young scientists were made explicitly responsible and empowered to develop missile systems in a multi-organizational environment where traditional boss-subordinate hierarchy will not work. These leaders had to deal with officials much older and experienced in their respective fields. We instilled in them full financial and administrative authority to take and implement decisions. They would chair the Project Management and Design Review meetings and I would join them as a member, as and when required. After nearly two decades, I can very confidently tell you that unless you identify a person, declare him a leader, empower him, and shield him until he delivers, things will not move much differently. The fear psychosis of Big Brother Is Watching, peers-leg-pulling, and adverse publicity would only lead to more intrigue and shell locking; creating a generation of play-safe, puritans rather than mission driven zealots for who end drives means. Hence empower the leader and protect him while he is facing adversity. Stand by him in the difficult times. Interview with Dr Kalam How would you define a developed country? Everyone in the country has to be well above the poverty line. There should be plenty of employment opportunity for all, including women and those in rural areas. There has to be basic self-reliance in strategic defence systems, so that external policy is not umbilical connected to countries through the weapons business. Self-reliance is the only answer in the defence sector. Health, education, employment too should reach one and all. There has to be effective action for oldage care. Above all, the nation should have a standing commensurate with its billion people.


Can India become a developed country? It can and it should .It has the potential and basic capabilities. Thrust towards basic food security, self-reliance in strategic areas, speedier economic growth, and the new thrust we see in information technology are steps in the right direction. What are the main hurdles to India becoming a technological power? The problem is our 'native ' mentality. We're afraid of celebrating our people's success in various fields. Above all, there is a mind-set for propagating love for foreign goods and equipment by the well-to-do the rich, and professionals. For the nation to prosper, I still like to put forth what is said in the famous mural by Thiruvalluvar two millennia ago: If those who think to achieve Have a firm and focused mind They will realize what they thought of And ever as they have thought of How can we keep the best technological minds of India from emigrating to US? I'm not worried about brain drain. Who cares? People will leave for obvious reasons. Who can stop them? It's the process that will continue. We can keep them by creating more challenging opportunities in the country and by recognizing best talent and performance. The nation should have a vision. It ignites the minds of the people and attracts the best. Should we concentrate on core areas of research rather than all? Can you identify some? The nation definitely needs to focus on specific areas and not spread its butter too thin. I can identify five areas which should be of absolute importanceInfoTech, agricultural science, infrastructure, health and education. Research in these sectors needs to be a never-ending process. And that's imperative for the nation's all –round growth. Where do we balance expenditure on defence and that on development? Indian defence expenditure as a percentage of GNP is one of the lowest in the world. If self-reliance in technology enters the mind of the well-to-do and highly educated, a beautiful balance will occur between income and defence expenditure as we live in an environment of dual technology: what's developed for defence also has many peaceful applications.


Does the fact that your inventions include instruments of mass destruction bother you? It does. But at the same time, I know that the same technology which produces the missile also helps develop an instrument used to clear blocked heart arteries. Some of the best defence-related technologies have done wonders in medical science in India. Don't forget the weapons business is a beautiful business. It's a business where if you are successful, you can also influence others easily. Being a Vedic scholar, how are the Vedas relevant in this day and age? I read the Vedas, I read the Gita, I read Ramayana and I read Bible. And often when I read a religious and spiritual book, I see a beautiful linkage that is the real Indian culture. For a nation with vision and having a basic prosperity for its entire people, religious will become a part of the individual and fulfill his personal needs. Apart from science and technology, what else interests you? Poetry and music. I have this big library at home and my favourite poets are Milton, Walt Whitman and Rabindranath Tagore. I write poetry too. My book of poems, Yenudaya Prayana, has now been translated into English. It is called My Journey. You must read it. I also enjoy Carnatic music and play the veena. What is your favourite raga? The Shri raga. When can I sing a Song of India? Recently, I was addressing a Youth meet of India at Ahmedabad. About 3000 youth from all over the country were participating. At the end of the address one girl who is in the 10+2 came to me with certain hesitation and said “Uncle, Can I ask a question to you? I said go ahead Lady. She said I have an elder brother studying in USA; he came home last summer and almost sang a song of USA. He says, "America is beautiful, America is rich, America is clean and they are hard working. Even Indians who go to USA become hard working and rich". Please tell me uncle, when can I sing a song of India?”. Billion people of our nation are a big resource. Vision for the nation ignites the minds. In ignited India, our children will sing the song of India. Friends, let us jointly work to make at least our growing children sing the song of India.


The Road Ahead It is a long way from the first freedom movement, from the sacrifices and struggles, from the bondage, that India became independent and has grown in all spheres. India is a nation of one billion people with vast human and natural resources, with multi lingual and multi religious people spread in so vast area. When I go from North to South and East to West, I find the whole world contained within India, with different climate, people and culture. Since our Independence, what India could achieve in the field of Agriculture is marvelous. Green Revolution is India's commendable achievement. Secondly, what India has achieved in the field of Science and Technology is remarkable. When we have achieved good progress in Science and Technology, why should we remain a poor country – this is the question very often I am asked by the youth. I strongly feel that this fire from the ignited minds, will call for change, for a better life. In fact, we are in the process of realizing the full impact of our technological advancement to get transformed as tool for uplifting the poor. We struggle hard to come out with economic independence. There is poverty and illiteracy, which has cursed so bitterly a section of our population. There is another problem that of surging population, and we should contain such a population growth by all means – and can we call it as our strength with our present rate of one billion population? Certainly yes, provided we remove poverty with greater accelerated growth and give dignity to every one down the strata with good education. Education should be up to a point from where one does not merely recognize letters but can shape his or her destiny out of education. It appears to be a dream to remove poverty, illiteracy and bring forth a better life to our people. All through my life, I never worried about realizing my dreams. Whenever my hopes, dreams and goals are shattered, out in that rubble, I always find a golden opportunity is hidden behind. Most of our problem persists and multiplies because we generally do not relate ourselves with our country. Before Independence, varied people united together with the common objective, and won our freedom. Such a unifying common cause is again and ever required for this Second National Movement for Developed India. From the history of Developed Countries, what we can see as important factors contributed to their success are – sincerity to work and loyalty to country. Whenever I talk to the youth, I find there is an unuttered promise in their thoughts and actions. They crave for a better life and want to progress. I believe the youth have a big role in this National Movement, for without children what is a family? I look forward and my path leads me to my cherished destination – Developed India. I have a goal to reach in 20 years. I have one billion desires and dreams to guide me! My journey is our journey. Transforming India with a developed nation is the greatest Vision for all. Your ignited minds are the greatest resources for seeing such a vision in reality. -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Excerpts From WINGS OF FIRE (Autobiography of APJ ABDUL KALAM) ---------------------*A basic aspect of a person’s working style is how he plans and organizes tasks. At one extreme end is the meticulous planner, who carefully spells out each step before making any move. With a sharp eye for what can possibly go wrong, he tries to cover all contingencies. At the other end is the fast mover, who weaves and dodges without a plan. Inspired by an idea, the fast mover is always ready for action. Another aspect of a person's working style is control- the energy and attention devoted to ensuring that things happen in a certain way. At one extreme is the tight controller, a strict administrator with frequent checkpoints. Rules and policies are to be followed with religious fervor. At the opposite end are those who move with freedom and flexibility. They have little patience for bureaucracy. *To succeed in your mission, you must have single-minded devotion to your goal. Such individuals are called "workaholics". The term is misleading because it implies a pathological condition or an illness. If i do that which I desire more than anything else in the world and which makes me happy, such work can never be an aberration. *Total commitment is a crucial quality for those who want to reach the very top of their profession. The desire to work at optimum capacity leaves hardly any room for anything else. Total commitment is the common denominator among all successful men and women. * The difference between an energetic and a confused person the way their minds handle their experiences. * Man needs his difficulties because they are necessary to enjoy success. * All of us carry some sort of super-intelligence within us. Let it be stimulated to enable us to examine our deepest thoughts, desires and beliefs. * FLOW is a sensation we experience when we act with total involvement. There is no hurry, there are no distracting demands. The past and future disappear. So does the distinction between self and activity. * Work as hard as you can at something that presents a challenge and is approved by your heart. *The trouble is that we often merely analyse life instead of dealing with it. People dissect their failures for causes and effects , but seldom deal with them and gain experience to master them and thereby avoid their recurrence.


This is my belief: thru difficulties and problems God gives us the opportunity to grow. So when your hopes and dreams and goals are dashed, search among the wreckage, you may find a golden opportunity hidden in the ruins. * One of the main driving forces is: Motive. It is the force which is internal to the individual and forms the basis of his behaviour in the work environment. Most people posses a strong drive for growth, competence, and self-actualization. The problem is the lack of a work-environment that stimulates and permits them to give a full expression to this drive. *Quite honestly, I have never understood the reason behind the great importance attached by people to astrology. As an art , I have nothing against it, but if it seeks acceptance under the guise of science, I reject it. The highly complicated calculations manipulated around the precise movements of celestial bodies, to derive highly subjective conclusions, appear illogical to me. As I see it, the earth is the most powerful and energetic planet. *Everything solid contains great space within and everything stationary contains great movements within. It is as though as the great dance of Shiva is being performed on Earth during every moment of our existence. *** Desire, when it stems from the heart and the spirit, when it is pure and intense, possesses awesome electromagnetic energy. This energy is released into the space each night, as the mind falls to sleep. Each morning it returns to the conscious state reinforced with the cosmic currents. That which has been imaged will be surely and certainly be manifested. You can rely, young man, upon this ageless promise as surely as you can rely upon the eternally unbroken promise of sunrise. ** Accept your destiny and go ahead with your life. Forget this failure, as it was essential to lead you to your destined path. Search for your true purpose of your existence. * As the process of confronting and solving problems often requires hard work and is painful, we have endless procrastination. Actually, problems can be the cutting edge that actually distinguishes between the success and the failure. They draw out innate courage and wisdom. ***** The kingdom of God is within you, in the form of internal power to help you achieve your goals and realize your dreams. There are many different types and levels that turn this internal power reaction critical. Sometimes, when we are ready , the gentlest contacts with him fill us with insight and wisdom. This could come from an encounter with another person, from a word, a question, a gesture, or even a look. It could come thru a book, a conversation, a line from a poem, or the mere sight of a picture. Without the slightest warning, something new breaks into your life and a secret decision is taken, a decision that you may be completely unconscious of , to start with.


* Most of the time, communication gets confused with conversation. In fact, the two are distinctly different. A conversation full of pleasantries is often devoid of any useful information, whereas the communication is meant only for the exchange of information. * Your willingness to invest your own inner resources to invest your life, esp your imagination, will bring you success. When you undertake a task from your own uniquely individual standpoint, you will become a person. ***** Anyone who has taken the responsibility to lead a team can be successful only if he is sufficiently intelligent and powerful in his own right to become a person to reckon with. This is also the path to individual success in life. What can one do to strengthen oneself? First , by building your own education and skills. Knowledge is a tangible asset, the most important tool in your work. You must have the most up-to-date information. A leader should keep abreast of all that is happening around him. To lead, is to engage in continuing education. Second, develop a passion for personal responsibility. Work for the things you believe in. * Performance dimensions are factors that lead to creation. They go beyond the competencies such as skills and knowledge of a person. They exist at various levels of human personality. At behavioural level, the outermost ring, we can observe skills and measure knowledge. Social roles and self-image form the intermediate level. Motives and traits exist at the core level. If we can identify those performance dimensions that are most highly co-related, with a job, we can use them for outstanding performance. *** Each individual creature on this beautiful planet is created by God to fulfill a particular role. Whatever we achieve, is thru His help and as an expression of His will. We are all born with a divine fire within us. Our efforts should be to give wings to this fire and fill the world with the glow of its goodness. -----------------------------------------------------------------------

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APJ Abdul Kalaam's speech in Hyderabad --------------------------------Quote: 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 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. 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: ONE: 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. TWO: 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. THREE: 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 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.

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FOUR: 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 calipers 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 bliss! Why is 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 selfsustaining, 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 land into an orchid 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 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. -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Dr Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam , popularly known as the “Missile Man of India”, is a renowned rocket engineer and a technologist. He is currently the President of India.

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