an early speech by Dr. Kalaam
The following is
a transcript of parts of an old speech
by Dr. APJ Abdul Kalaam :
... 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
From Alexander onwards, the Greeks, the Turks, the Moguls, the
the British, the French, the Dutch, all of them came and looted us,
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
and their history and tried to enforce our way of life on them.
Because we respect the freedom of others. That is why my first vision
that of FREEDOM. I believe that India got its first vision of this in
when we started the war of independence. It is this freedom that we
protect and nurture and build on. If we are not free, no one will
My second vision
for India is DEVELOPMENT. For fifty years
we have been a developing nation. It is time we see ourselves as a
among top 5 nations of the world in terms
We have 10
percent growth rate in most areas.
levels are falling. Our achievements
are being globally recognised 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
only as a military power but also as an economic power. Both must go
... My good
fortune was to have worked with three great
minds. Dr.Vikram Sarabhai of the Dept. of space, Professor Satish
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
the great opportunity of my life.
I see four
milestones in my career:
years I spent in ISRO. I was given the opportunity
to be the project director for India's first satellite launch vehicle
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 programme. It was my second
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
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
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
FOUR: One day an
orthopaedic surgeon from Nizam Institute
of Medical Sciences visited my laboratory. He lifted the material and
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
over three Kg each, dragging their feet around. He said to me: Please
the pain of my patients. In three weeks, we made these Floor reaction
300 gram callipers and took them to the orthopaedic centre. The
didn't believe their eyes. From dragging around a three kg load on
legs, they could now move around! Their parents had tears in their
That was my fourth bliss! ...
... Why are the
media here so negative?
Why are we in India so embarrassed
to recognise 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
We are number one in Remote sensing satellites.
We are the second largest producer of wheat.
We are the second largest producer of rice.
Dr.Sudarshan, he has transferred the tribal village
into a self-sustaining, self-driving unit. There are millions of such
but our media are only obsessed in the bad news and failures and
In India we only read about death, sickness, terrorism, crime.
are we so NEGATIVE?
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
Do we not realise that self-respect comes with self- reliance?
I was in
Hyderabad giving this lecture, when a 14 years
old girl asked me for my autograph. I asked her what her goal in life
She replied: I want to live in a developed India. For her, you and I
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 vengeance.
Got 10 minutes for your country? If yes, then read; otherwise, choice
YOU say that our
government is inefficient. YOU say that
our laws are too old. YOU say that the municipality does not pick up
rubbish. YOU say that the phones don't work, the railways are a joke,
airline is the worst in the world, and mails never reach their
YOU say that our country has been fed to the dogs and is the absolute
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
butts on the roads or eat in the stores. YOU are as proud of their
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
YOU comeback to the parking lot to punch your parking ticket if you
over-stayed in a restaurant or a shopping mall irrespective of your
identity. In Singapore you don't say anything, DO YOU? YOU
dare to eat in public during Ramazan, in Dubai. YOU would not dare to
out without your head covered in Jeddah. YOU would not dare to buy an
of the telephone exchange in London at 10 pounds (Rs.650) a month to,
to it that my STD and ISD calls are billed to someone else." YOU
would not dare to speed beyond 55 mph (88 kmph) 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
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
We are still talking of the same YOU. YOU who can respect and conform
a foreign system in other countries but cannot in your own. You
will throw papers and cigarettes on the road the moment you touch
ground. You can be an involved and appreciative citizen in an alien
why cannot you be the same here in India.
Once in an
interview, the famous Ex-municipal commissioner
of Mumbai, Mr.Tinaikar had a point to make. "Rich people's dogs are
on the streets to leave their affluent droppings all over the place,"
said. "And then the same people turn around to criticise and blame the
authorities for inefficiency and dirty pavements. What do they expect
officers to do? Go down with a broom every time their dog feels
pressure in his bowels? In America every dog owner has to clean
after his pet has done the job. Same in Japan. Will the Indian
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
the government to do everything for us whilst our contribution is
negative. We expect the government to clean up, but we are not going to
stop chucking rubbish all over the place,
nor are we going to stop to pick 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
but we are not going to stop pilfering at the least opportunity. This
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
and continue to do the reverse at home.
"It's the whole system which has to change,
how will it matter if I alone forego my sons' rights to a dowry." So
going to change the system? What does a system consist of? Very
for us it consists of our neighbors, other households, other cities,
communities and the government. But definitely not me and YOU.
it comes to us actually making a positive contribution to the system
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
& 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
we take the next flight out to the Gulf. When the Gulf is war
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 ...
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