Wednesday, January 21, 2004

The President's Speech to Schoolchildren at Kanchanbagh, Hyderabad

Harnessing the power of the Youth

I am happy to be here today and interact with all of you. I would like to greet the Principal, teachers and all the students who have assembled here. I always enjoy interacting with young and vibrating minds of our nation who have enormous potential of contributing constructively towards shaping a bright future and transforming India into a developed nation.

What can I do for you?

Every one of us has gone through the various phases of education from childhood to profession. A scene appears in front of me. A child, a teenager, an adult and a leader. How does each one react to a particular situation? The situation is human need. The child asks, "What can you do for me"? The teenager says, "I want to do it alone". The young person proclaims, "let us do it together". The leader offers, "What can I do for you". So, the principals have got a tremendous responsibility to transform a child into a leader - the transformation of 'what can you do for me' to 'what can I do for you'. That will demand a principal to be a visionary with an inspiring capability. Also the principal has to ensure that teachers impart learning to the children in such a way as to bring out the best in them and for this, he has to be a good teacher himself. I am sure; the best of creativity among the students will emerge by integrated influence of principals, teachers, and parents on students.

What Causes human Bliss?

Once I was addressing over one lakh youth at Kochi in Kerala. One of the students from Amrita Institute of Technology, Amritapuri asked me an interesting and thoughtful question. Her name is S. Sreebala. The question was:

Being a person of such caliber, as to have achieved more than one can dream of in a lifetime, we are going to ask you a very difficult question. Could you select one achievement of so many, that you could place at a pedestal higher than others, for the reason that it satisfies and provides contentment the most and is the most fulfilling.

My answer to the question was through a few experiences as follows:

a. Nobility in leadership

Two decades ago while I was working at ISRO, I had the best of education, which won't come from any university. I will narrate that incident. I was given a task by Prof. Satish Dhawan to develop the first satellite launch vehicle SLV-3, to put ROHINI Satellite in orbit. This was one of the largest high technology space programmes undertaken in 1973. The whole space technology community, men and women, were geared up for this task. Thousands of scientists, engineers and technicians worked resulting in the realisation of the first SLV-3 launch on 10th August 1979. SLV-3 took off in the early hours and the first stage worked beautifully. But the mission could not achieve its objectives, as the control system in 2nd stage malfunctioned. There was a press conference at Sriharikota, after the event. Prof. Dhawan took me to the press conference. And there he announced that he takes responsibility for not achieving the mission, even though I was the project director and the mission director. When we launched SLV-3 on 18th July 1980, successfully injecting the Rohini Satellite into the orbit, again there was a press conference and Prof. Dhawan put me in the front to share the success story with the press. What we learn from this event is that the leader gives the credit for success to those who worked for it, and he absorbs the failures. This is the leadership. The scientific community in India has the fortune to work with such leaders, which resulted in many accomplishments. This success generated great happiness among all my team members.

b. Pokhran incident

On 11th May 1998 the then Chairman, Atomic Energy Commission Dr R Chidambaram and myself and some of our team members were working for the results of the underground nuclear test followed by another two. We were very close to the test site and the countdown was progressing. At T-5 seconds, hundreds of parameters from instrumentation were displayed. The mission was to take place in a few seconds. At T-0, we witnessed the whole earth shrugged and thundered in front of us and all around. We saw part of the earth raising. What a powerful energy India generated through nuclear weapons?. This was another achievement which made me and my team happy.

c. Agni launch

The third event is about a missile system. On 11th April 1999, the AGNI-II took off with computer command from the beautiful island range. 600 parameters from the missile were monitored in real time through a series of radars, telemetry stations and ship borne instrumentations networked with our own communication satellites. The AGNI with its payload reached the pre-determined target, 2000 kms away. The partnership of many labs with academic institutions and industries brought this important success and it is another triumph for self reliance, amidst several technology denials by developed countries. This event also made me happy.

d. India 2020 - A Vision document

I was the Chairman of the TIFAC (Technology Information, Forecasting and Assessment Council) for nearly a decade. The council evolved with the help of experts a road map on how to transform India into a developed country by 2020. Nearly twenty volumes of documents were generated and presented at that time to the then Prime Minister in 1996. There was certain experimental work with certain funding allotted for the project. This funding was utilized to see how productivity per hectare in Bihar can be multiplied, milk production in Punjab can be enhanced and the sugarcane quality and production can improve through various missions. All these activities arising out of India's millennium mission 2020, generated keen interest in the country. On 15 Aug 2002, our Prime Minister announced that India will become a developed nation by 2020. This also gave me tremendous amount of happiness.

e. Joy of removing the pain

The next important event I would like to share with you is about the fitment of FRO (Floor Reaction Orthosis) caliper to a polio affected child. During my visit to one of the hospitals in Hyderabad, I found many children were struggling to walk with an artificial limb weighing over 3 kgs. At the request of Prof. Prasad of NIMS, Head of Orthopedic department at that time, I asked my AGNI friends why cannot we use the composite material used for AGNI heat shield for fabricating FROs for polio affected patients? They immediately said it is possible. We worked on this project for sometime and came up with a FRO, weighing around 300 gms in place of 3 kg. Exactly, 1/10th of the weight which the child was carrying. The doctors helped us to fit the new light weight FRO on the child and the child started walking and running around. Her parents were also present. Tears of happiness rolled down on them through the joy of seeing their daughter running with light weight caliper. With the light weight device provided by the hospital she could run, ride a bicycle and do all sorts of things which she had been denied for a long time. The removal of the pain and the freedom attained by the child gave me a state of bliss which I never experienced during any of the four major events which I described earlier.

When Can I sing the SONG OF INDIA?

Some of my friends had launched a web site in my name called I normally exchange views particularly with the young within the country and abroad. I had put forth two points in the web site for the young to share their thoughts. The first point I had put forth was, "India is a developing country for more than half a century. What you will do to make it Developed India?". The second one was, "When can I sing a song of India?". There is a connectivity. There were more than 100 responses. I thought of sharing with you four important suggestions that I received.

One student from Meghalaya had responded, "I will become a teacher (rather a Professor of Engineering) since I am good in, as well as enjoy teaching. Since I believe that one of the best ways in which to serve any nation is to be either a Professor or a soldier among many other professions". What a noble thought. Only from beautiful places like Meghalaya such beautiful thoughts can arise. Another young girl from Kerala says, "Single flower makes no garland. I will make my countrymen to love the nation and work for garland, that is developed India". A twenty-year-old boy from Goa has responded, "I would become an electron and like an electron in the orbit, I will work ceaselessly for my country now onwards. With reference to the second point, which I had, put forth, a young man from Atlanta says, "when India builds the capability to put sanction against any country, if needed, then I will sing a song of India". What the young man meant was: Economic strength brings prosperity accompanied with national strength. Like that there are many responses.

Role model by parents

Yesterday I received a mail from one of the parents who said that he had trained his son not tell a lie under any circumstances. Recently the father was writing a letter to his principal asking for leave of absence. There the reason given was since the boy was indisposed; he wanted permission to be absent. When the father started writing this, the son immediately asked father "you have always been telling me not to tell a lie, how is it you are giving a wrong reason for the absence". This is the power of teaching the children at a young age to be honest. Honesty comes out of righteousness. Once taught, they become conscious keepers.

Now, I would like to administer an oath for attaining enlightened citizenship.

Ten point oath

1. I will love whatever profession I take up and I will try to excel in it.
2. From now onwards I will teach at least 10 persons to read and write those who cannot read and write.
3. I will plant ten saplings/trees and ensure their growth.
4. I will go to rural and urban areas to reform at least five persons from the habits of addiction and gambling.
5. I will take responsibility for removing the pain of ailing persons.
6. I will participate in the mission of realizing the economic strength of India by combining it with an education with value system and by transforming religion into a spiritual force.
7. I will not support any differentiation on account of community or language.
8. I will lead an honest life free from all corruption and will set an example for others to adopt a transparent way of life.
9. I will always be a friend of the mentally and physically challenged and I will work hard to make them feel normal.
10. I will celebrate the success of my country and my people.

I wish you all success in your missions.

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