This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
A.P.J. Abdul Kalam
SPIRIT OF INDIA — A TRANSFORMATION IN THINKING
So What is the Spirit of India? While Celebrating this intrinsic nature of India, I reflected on the History of the country and extended my voyage to the future. As a nation, we are proud of our civilisational heritage, our family-oriented society, our unity amidst cultural diversity, our innovative method of ahimsa dharma that liberated us from foreign rule and our well-tested and stable democracy with its all-round growth in different sectors of economy. India is now a country that exudes confidence and gives rise to hopes to deal with the challenges. I see the spirit of India in the capacity of its people to do their work and lead a contented life. There are so many aspects that I find it difficult to sum up this spirit. Can I share with you how India graduated within a decade from a country about to be forced to pledge gold to meet its foreign exchange needs to a nation that is now growing at an average annual rate of 9 per cent GDP? Or how the farmers in partnership with scientists and technologists succeeded in producing over 200 million tonne of foodgrain and made the nation almost self-sufficient? Or should I tell you the story of how India succeeded in launching 10 satellites through a single launch and is about to embark on a mission to the moon? Shall I mention with pride the capability of our nuclear scientists in reprocessing the high burn-up carbide fuel using sodium-cooled fast reactors? Or share my experience of how India became a nuclear weapon state? Shall I write about the recent achievements of our defence scientists in testing strategic missile systems? There is so much more: shall I describe the growth in production of generic drugs by our pharmaceutical industry through advanced research?
Shall I elaborate on the growth of small and medium industry which contributes to large-scale exports and provides employment to a large number of our youth? Shall I dwell on our experience of creating PURA (Providing Urban Amenities in Rural Areas) complexes by some educational institutions and industries and transforming them into economic hubs? Shall I talk about the excellent action taken by the judiciary in several cases? Shall I describe how our IT industries are contributing to over 25 per cent of our exports through software and services? Shall I express my happiness that one in every two Indians will have a mobile phone before 2010? Shall I concentrate on describing the happiness of the youth due to the birth of a large number of IITs, IIMs, IISERs, and IIITs? Should I express my happiness about the active participation of our media, both print and electronic, in attempting to connect a billion people? Can I share how 23 million Indians living in various parts of the world are enriching those nations and India through knowledge centres and bringing glory to our motherland? Can I share the pride of our democracy being strengthened during the last six decades in spite of our multiple political systems? No. While each of them are great accomplishments in their own way what is striking is the spirit of India that gives rise to such enthusiasm. In the 1990s, the youth always used to ask me, “When can I sing the Song of India?” Today, the youth are asking me, “What can I give to India?” This, in my opinion, represents the New Spirit of this New India. This change in the pattern of questions is representative of the transformation of the country over the years. I receive many e-mails and letters expressing the same sentiment. When I study them and also the personal interactions with people, I can clearly see the responsibility that we owe to this spirit of India. How do we do that? We need to focus on futuristic priorities in a mission mode. National leadership, irrespective of its political spectrum, should inspire confidence among our people and boldly formulate and implement development missions in a cooperative and competitive mode with specific time-bound goals, with the sole purpose of meeting the aspirations of the Spirit of India.
To keep that spirit vibrant and self-rejuvenating, as a nation, we have to evolve a vision for India for the year 2020. The India of 2020 should be: • A nation where the rural and urban divide is reduced to a very thin line.
A nation where there is an equitable distribution of and adequate access to energy and quality water.
• A nation where agriculture, industry and the service sector work together in symphony. • A nation where education with a value system is not denied to any meritorious candidates because of societal or economic discrimination. • A nation which is the best destination for the most talented scholars, scientists, and investors. • A nation where the best of healthcare is available to all. • A nation where governance is responsive, transparent and free of corruption. • A nation where poverty has been totally eradicated, illiteracy removed and crimes against women and children are absent. • A nation that is prosperous, healthy, secure, peaceful and happy, on a sustainable growth path. • A nation that is one of the best places to live in and is proud of its leadership. We should convert this into a Mission India 2020 for a strong, prosperous and happy nation. With such a profile, as the leading driver for the political parties, they can perform in the environment of developmental politics, competing with each other in the political vision of national development and evolve strategies to realise it through their manifesto. As Edmond Burke told his electorate in 1774, “Parliament is not a congress of ambassadors from different and hostile interests but Parliament is a deliberative assembly of one nation, with one interest, that of the whole— you choose a member indeed but when you have chosen him, he is not member of Bristol but he is a Member of Parliament.” These words hold true, centuries later and miles away in our land. Generally, citizens believe that the government has no shortage of programmes and funds. What needs improvement is the efficient and transparent delivery system, with a proper methodology for assessment, feedback and timely corrective action for full realisation of mission goals.
A political will, spirit of working together backed by the enthusiasm of a “can-do” spirit can assure the success of mission. There are some examples of people who have made the impossible possible through their spirit and determination for uplifting society. M.R. Raju, a friend from Peddamiram, Andhra Pradesh, gave up his scientific pursuit in Los Alamos Laboratory, USA, and undertook the transformation of his village with the support of his family members. In the past decade, he has brought about a major change for the people in the village by providing treatment for cancer, eye care and also uplift of children in the age group of three to five. A confident young population is emerging in Peddamiram. Another example is that of Baba Balbir Singh Seechewal who has rejuvenated the 175-km-long polluted and weed-choked Kali Bein river of Punjab within the last five years by deploying 3,000 volunteer pilgrims on an average despite severe opposition from many industries and vested interests. Today one can feel the flow of fresh water in this rivulet and also the considerable rise of the water table in the adjoining fields. A third example is that of S.R. Krishnamurthy who entered my room in Coimbatore in a wheelchair with cheerfulness radiating from him. I was amazed to see a physically challenged person with no legs, no hands. I asked him, please tell me, what I can do for you? He said, I do not want anything from you, only I would like to sing in front of you, and he sang melodiously Saint Thyagraja’s pancha ratna kriti entharo mahanubavulu in Sriragam giving me a glimpse of his enormous talent. I was touched. What is the message? Despite being physically challenged, the latent talent of music could blossom in this person with his positive attitude and perseverance. When I see the youth of the nation, I see in them the eternal spirit of Mahatma Gandhi, Rajendra Prasad, Jawaharlal Nehru, Sardar Patel, Subhash Chandra Bose, B. R. Ambedkar, Maulana Azad, Rajaji and many great visionary leaders of our nation.
These leaders had unique leadership qualities. For them, nation was sacred and above any individual, organisation or political system.
Can our youth become such visionary leaders, putting the nation above themselves with determination and inspiration? For such a purposeful event, we need the initiative of the political leadership at the top to ignite the minds through a great vision of transforming India. For such a mission to happen, India’s billion people have to work as one entity. This is possible only through Parliament which is constituted by the elected representatives of the country. Parliament should meet on August 15, 2008, to pledge that they will launch an action oriented movement to transform India into an economically developed nation with a strong value system before the year 2020. Let us all work together in this mission of re-igniting the Spirit of India and maintaining it. Let me conclude with a few verses from my poem: Thoughts Oh Almighty, Embed the thought ‘Nation is bigger than the Individual’ in the minds of the leaders and people. Oh Almighty, Bless my people to work with perseverance to transform the country into a peaceful and prosperous nation. — The author is former President of India
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
We've moved you to where you read on your other device.
Get the full title to continue reading from where you left off, or restart the preview.