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Address at the Canada India Foundation, First Annual Gala, Toronto, Canada
Toronto, Canada , Apr 18 2008
Updated on Apr 18 2008
Published bywww.abdulkalam.com
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India Vision : Dynamics of Development

"The competitiveness is powered by knowledge power.
The knowledge power is powered by Technology and innovation.

Friends, I am delighted to be with all of you at the Canada India Foundation?s First Annual Gala on the invitation of Canada India Foundation. I am very happy to know that the mission of Canada India foundation is to create a deeper understanding among the people of India and Canada. It is indeed a great opportunity for me to share with you India?s vision of transforming itself into a developed nation before 2020.

I am very happy that India Canada Foundation is honoring my friend Dr. Sam Pitroda who has demonstrated global leadership, vision, and personal excellence which has made a difference to India in the telecom revolution and his contribution for the National Knowledge Commission. I congratulate Dr. Sam Pitroda for receiving the First Canada India Foundation Chanch-lani Global Indian Award.

India cherishes the long standing economic, social, cultural, scientific and technological cooperation that we had with Canada from post independence period. I had the opportunity of renewing the friendship and cooperation between Canada and India during the visit of Prime Minister of Canada to India in 2005.

Today we are honored that Right Honorable Prime Minister Stephen Harper has specially come to Toronto to be with us to participate in the Canada India Foundation?s First Annual Gala. This reflects his personal commitment as well as that of his government to close relations with India. It also speaks volumes about his affection for the Indo-Canadian community. We fully reciprocate his sentiments and welcome him amongst our midst. On behalf of billion people of my country India, I extend my greetings to Mr. Prime Minister and the citizens of Canada and the people of Indian Origin. Dear friends, I am very happy that the people of Indian origin in Canada have become very important partners in national development of Canada.

Canada and India, both have a long cherished democratic pluralistic society with multi culture, multi language and multi religion. Both of us are part of the Common Wealth and have a well structured legal system. India is in the process of transforming itself into a ?developed country? by 2020. Indian economy is in the ascent phase and the purchasing power of 300 million people is continuously rising. India and Canada could both complement each other in physical, natural and human resources. Both the countries have been technologically advanced and could provide end-to-end solutions to each other using their individual core competence or complementing their core competencies. These complementarities can not only provide higher quality of life for both Indian and Canadian societies, but also provide an opportunity to work for finding solutions to the problems of energy, environment and healthcare faced by different parts of the world. I would suggest, Canada India Foundation to become a forum for making this hard cooperation between Canada and India to become a reality leading to contribution for global welfare.

While addressing the University of Waterloo, University of Toronto and discussing with industrialists and business leaders, and at MaRs, I have suggested creation of a World Knowledge Platform, for integrating the core competencies of multiple institutions in india and Canada which will provide them a mechanism for working together for reaching a common destination. Canada India Foundation can be instrumental in formalizing an operational system for realizing this goal in progressing such type of joint mission.

Dear friends, when I am with you, the topic I have selected for discussion on this occasion is "India Vision: Dynamics of Development".

India Vision 2020: A Distinctive Profile.

Let me share with you my unique experience in mid 1990?s on formulation of Indian vision 2020 strategies. I was given the task of chairing Technology Information Forecasting and Assessment Council (TIFAC). I recollect, that in the first meeting of the Council (itself, we took a decision that TIFAC must evolve a plan how India can be transformed into an economically developed nation by the year 2020. When the suggestion was mooted everybody was wondering how we can evolve such a long term mission under the then prevailing economic and social conditions of the country. That was the time; the then Prime Minister had just announced the economic liberalization and growth measures for the Indian economy and its impact had just started being felt.

In spite of this, the council with many young members jumped into the idea and we discussed for one full day on how we can translate the thought into action. At a time when the economy was growing at around 5 to 6% per annum in GDP we had to envisage a growth rate of at least 10% per annum consistently for over 10 years for realizing the development vision of billion democratic people of multi lingual, multi religious and multi cultural characteristics. This really ignited the minds of all of us in the council. We debated and arrived at 17 task teams with over 500 members who had consultations with over 5000 people in various sectors of the economy. Committees worked for over two years resulting in 25 reports which we presented to the then Prime Minister of India on 2 Aug 1996.

Transforming India into a developed nation implies that every citizen of the country lives well above the poverty line, their education and health is of a high standard, national security assured and core-competence in certain major areas enabled production of quality goods competitively including for exports, bringing all-round prosperity for the countrymen. This event led to the birth of the book "India 2020: a Vision for the New Millennium". Based on various inputs, the government announced the vision statement that India will become a developed nation by 2020. Such a statement is very rare, since every government is elected only for a period of five years and thinking of over 20 years time frame by the Parliament and the government is a fresh breeze. Now let me present the current ambience of the nation.

Current Ambience

In Indian history, very rarely has our nation come across a situation, all at a time, an ascending economic trajectory, continuously rising foreign exchange reserves, moderate rate of inflation, energy of 540 million youth, umbilical connectivities of 23 million people of Indian origin in various parts of the planet, with the potential sharing capacity of knowledge and interest shown by many developed countries to invest in our engineers and scientists including setting up of new Research & Development Centers. The distinction between public and the private sectors and the illusory primacy of one over the other is vanishing. Our technological competence and value systems with civilizational heritage are also highly respected. Foreign Institutional Investors are finding investing in India attractive. Our industrialists are also investing abroad and opening new business ventures.

The Indian economy is growing with an average annual GDP growth rate of over 8%. Very soon, we will be reaching the target of 10% GDP growth rate. Now, let me give my visualization of India during the year 2020.

Distinctive profile of the nation

1. A Nation where the rural and urban divide has reduced to a thin line.
2. A Nation where there is an equitable distribution and adequate access to energy and quality water.
3. A Nation where agriculture, industry and service sector work together in symphony.
4. A Nation where education with value system is not denied to any meritorious candidates because of societal or economic discrimination.
5. A Nation which is the best destination for the most talented scholars, scientists, and investors.

6. A Nation where the best of health care is available to all.
7. A Nation where the governance is responsive, transparent and corruption free.
8. A Nation that is prosperous, healthy, secure, devoid of terrorism, peaceful and happy and continues with a sustainable growth path.
9. A Nation that is one of the best places to live in and is proud of its leadership.

Integrated Action for developed India

To achieve the distinctive profile of India, we have the mission of transforming India into a developed nation. We have identified five areas where India has a core competence for integrated action: (1) Agriculture and food processing (2) Education and Healthcare (3) Information and Communication Technology (4) Reliable and Quality Electric power, Surface transport and Infrastructure for all parts of the country and (5) Self reliance in critical technologies.

These five areas are closely inter-related and if progressed in a coordinated way, will lead to food, economic and national security. During my visits to different parts of the country and during my discussions with many citizens, the results of such integrated efforts have started becoming visible. One major mission is the development of infrastructure for bringing rural prosperity are through Provision of Urban Amenities in Rural Areas (PURA) through creation of three connectivities namely physical, electronic, knowledge leading to economic connectivity. The number of PURA for the whole country is estimated to be 7000 covering 600,000 villages where 700 million people live. Government is planning to implement 2 PURA?s per district across 600 districts in the nation. There are number operational PURA in the country initiated by many educational, healthcare institutions, industry and NGO?s.

PURA Mission

Based on the terrain and climatic conditions there could be four types of PURA in our country. They are, plain terrain PURA, hill PURA, coastal PURA and desert PURAs. The population in the Plain terrain and Coastal region PURA may be in the region of 20,000 to 100,000 in a cluster of 20 to 30 villages, whereas in the Hill or Desert PURA may have a population of 7,500 to 15,000 people in a cluster of 30 to 50 villages or hamlets. It is also essential that the rural economy be driven by renewable energies such as solar, wind, bio-fuel and conversion of municipal waste into power. With this approach, the core competencies in the rural sector would be harnessed for sustainable development of the economy as a whole. Each PURA cluster, apart from concentrating on reinforcing agriculture, will emphasize on agro processing, development of rural craftsmanship, dairy, silk production and fishing and fish processing in those regions having coast lines, so that the non-farm revenue for the rural sector is enhanced, based on the competitive advantage of the region.

We have discussed four connectivities namely, physical, electronic, knowledge connectivities leading to economic connectivity. In my opinion this is not sufficient. We have to harness certain value system among people coming out of civilizational heritage which is essential for a prosperous, happy, peaceful and a safe society. For ensuring this I would consider inculcation of spiritual connectivity also in the PURA model.

Connectivity Model: Societal GRID

So far we have discussed the rural prosperity through PURA. For bridging the rural and urban divide and ensuring the equitable promotion of prosperity for the billion people, India is spearheading the connectivity mission. The core of this connectivity model for Electronic Connectivity for prosperity of one billion people is the partnership between governmental and multiple institutions in the public and private domains. The strength of this partnership for collaborative growth and economic prosperity is facilitated by free flow of knowledge and information in a seamless manner cutting across levels and boundaries embracing all walks of life in the three sectors of the economy such as agriculture, manufacturing and services.

In this model, four grids bring about the interfaces of three sectors of the economy: namely, Knowledge Grid, Health Grid, e-Governance Grid and the PURA Grid.

Societal Grid consists of:

1. Knowledge GRID ? Inter connecting universities with socio-economic institutions, industries and R&D organizations. India is planning to connect 5000 institutions across the country with Gigabit network for collaborative knowledge sharing platform as recommended by the National Knowledge Commission Chaired by Dr. Sam Pitroda. My greetings to Dr. Sam pitroda and his team in the National Knowledge Commission India. Three of India?s 150 years old Universities namely University of Madras, University of Calcutta and University of Mumbai have created "Virtual University" to provide 10 unique joint Post Graduate Programmes to the students of three universities spread across India to get enriched quality education without regional affiliations. India is also embarked in the mission of providing quality education services to 53 Pan African nations by connecting its 7 universities.

2.Health Care GRID ? Inter-connecting the Health Care institutions of Government, Corporate and Super specialty hospitals. Research institutions, educational institutions and ultimately, Pharma R & D institutions. India has connected around 300 remote locations so far, with more than 45 super specialty hospitals and provides tele-medicine connectivity. And also programme for providing healthcare services to the 53 Pan African nations by connecting 12 Super Specialty Hospitals from India as a part of Pan African e-Network is in progress.

3.E-Governance GRID ? Inter-connecting the Central Government and State Governments and District and Block level offices for G2G and G2C connectivity. India is creating State Wide Area Network across the country. India has the fiber connectivity up to the block level and only it needs to be lighted up. India is establishing 100,000 Common Service Centers across the nation to provide e-governance services to its citizens.

4.PURA Knowledge GRID ? will be the backbone for rural development. All other GRIDs will infuse the knowledge into this GRID for sustainable development, healthcare and good governance. Integrated Common Service Centers will act as an inter-connected delivery mechanism for tele-education tele-medicine and e-Governance services apart from individual access by the people, within and between the Village Knowledge Centers through the PURA Grid.

Each grid is a system of multiple portals. The aim is to maximize gross domestic production and productivity of the land and people through knowledge and collective well being of people by maximizing the performance of each sector in an inclusive manner, synergized by the system of inter and intra-sectoral electronic and knowledge connectivity to serve one billion plus people. This will further enhance the prosperity to 700 million people in the rural areas and 300 million plus people in the urban areas leading to higher per capita income, better quality of life and overall higher level of satisfaction. All these sustainable efforts should lead to the transformation towards knowledge society. How to bring in inclusiveness? For this we need to redefine our measurement tool of economic development?

National Prosperity Index

While we are happy that our economy is in the ascent phase and our average growth in GDP is over 8% per annum, it is evident that economic growth is not fully reflected in the quality of life of a large number of people, particularly in rural areas and even in urban areas. Hence, we have evolved what is called a "National Prosperity Index (NPI)" which is a summation of (a) Annual growth rate of GDP; plus (b) improvement in quality of life of the people, particularly those living below the poverty line plus (c) the adoption of a value system derived from our civilizational heritage in every walk of life which is unique to India. That is NPI=a+b+c. Particularly, ?b? is a function of availability of housing, good water, nutrition, proper sanitation, quality education, quality healthcare, employment potential and over all improvement of quality of life. ?c? is a function of promoting the joint family system, creation of a spirit of working together, leading a righteous way of life, removing social inequities, and above all promoting a conflict free, harmonious society. This will be indicated by peace in families and communities, reduction in corruption index, reduction in court cases, elimination of violence against children and women and communal tensions. There should also be progressive reduction in the number of people living below the poverty line year after year leading to its becoming near zero by 2020.

All our efforts in improving the national economic performance should be guided by the measured National Prosperity Index of the nation at any point of time.

Qualities of Leadership

I have seen three dreams which have taken shape as vision, mission and realization. Space programme of ISRO (Indian Space Research Organisation), AGNI programme of DRDO (Defence Research and Development Organisation) and PURA (Providing Urban Amenities in Rural Areas) becoming the National Mission. Of course these three programmes succeeded in the midst of many challenges and problems. I have worked in all these three areas. I want to convey to you what I have learnt on leadership from these three programmes.

a. Leader must have a vision.
b. Leader must be able to travel into an unexplored path.
c. Leader must know how to manage a success and failure.
d. Leader must have courage to take decision.
e. Leader should have Nobility in management.
f. Every action of the leader should be transparent.
g. Leader should work with integrity and succeed with integrity.

I have been discussing these essential traits of creative leaders with people of eminence in different areas and students from India and abroad. From the responses I received, I am confident that the institutions are in the process of generating leaders with these traits.


In this context, imagine the efforts needed to achieve this mission of Developed India before the year 2020. Based on my visits to all the states and union territories and my discussions with many people from different walks of life, I am convinced that it is possible for the country to be developed by 2020. We constitute one sixth of the global population and the transformation that we do to one sixth of the world will benefit the other population also. A great opportunity awaits the members of Canada India Foundation for participating in this transformation.

As I am in the midst of world citizens coming from different continents, let me now pose a question, how do you achieve global peace? I believe that one of the important foundations lie in our own way of life, which has multiple dimensions. Let me explain:

"Where there is righteousness in the heart
There is beauty in the character.
When there is beauty in the character,
There is harmony in the home.
When there is harmony in the home.
There is an order in the nation.
When there is order in the nation,
There is peace in the world."

It is a beautiful connectivity among heart, character, nation and world. In a society we have to build righteousness among all its constituents. For the society as a whole to be righteous we need creation of righteousness in family, righteousness in education, righteousness in service, righteousness in career, righteousness in business & industry, righteousness in civil administration, righteousness in politics, righteousness in government, righteousness in law and order, and righteousness in justice.

I request the Canada India foundation to take up unique mission of empowering the Canada and Indian youth below 25 years to empower them with value system based on the civilizational heritage of our nations to become an enlightened citizen. Ignited mind of the youth is most powerful resource on the earth, above the earth and under the earth. Canada India foundation should adopt the motto that "igniting the minds of the youth" towards creating vibrant and strong ties between Canada and India by enriching them as an enlightened citizens.

My best wishes to all of you and the Canada India Foundation success in their mission of promoting partnership between India and Canada.

May God Bless you.

Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam,

By, Dr. APJ Abdulkalam

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