You are here

Speech by Abdul Kalam

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 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.

FOUR: One day an orthopedic 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 calipers and took them to the
orthopedic 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 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

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.

Allow 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? 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 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? 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 kph)
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." YOU wouldn't chuck an empty coconut shell
anywhere other than 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. 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 neighbors, 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 to


Lets do what India needs from us.


Add new comment