Unique You. Can you? - Speech by Dr APJ Abdul Kalam ( March 31 )

Mar 31, 2012, 7:25 AM |


                                                                                    - Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam 


Imagination leads to creativity


Creativity blossoms thinking


Thinking provides knowledge


Knowledge makes you great.


 Today, I would like to share a few thoughts on  "Unique You. Can you?"


Unique You

Dear friends, Look up, what do you see, the light, the electric bulbs. Immediately, our thoughts go to the inventor Thomas Alva Edison, for his unique contribution towards the invention of electric bulb and his electrical lighting system.


When you hear the sound of aero plane going over your house, whom do you think of? Wright Brothers proved that man could fly of course at heavy risk and cost.



Whom does the telephone remind you of? Of course, Alexander Graham Bell.


When everybody considered a sea travel as an experience or a voyage, a unique person questioned during his sea travel from United Kingdom to India. He was pondering on why the horizon where the sky and sea meet looks blue? His research resulted in the phenomena of scattering of light. Of course,Sir CV Raman was awarded Nobel Prize.



Do you know an Indian Mathematician who did not have formal higher education but had inexhaustible spirit and love for mathematics which took him to contribute to the treasure houses of mathematical research ? some of which are still under serious study and engaging all-available world mathematician's efforts to establish formal proofs. He was a unique Indian genius who could melt the heart of the most hardened and outstanding Cambridge mathematician Prof G H Hardy. In fact, it is not an exaggeration to say that it was Prof. Hardy who discovered a great mathematician for the world. This mathematician was of-course Srinivasa Ramanujan  for whom every number was a divine manifestation.



Do you know about a great human being with a spirit of service, who also won a Nobel Prize for her contributions? She said and practiced, "Give, give and give, until it hurts". She is Mother Teresa.


When you read about cricket, which great batsman's name comes to your mind, who has now completed a century of centuries. Of course, it is Sachin Tendulkar! Do you know at what age he started playing international cricket - 16 years.



Friends, there was a great scientific lady who is known for discovering Radium. She won not one, but two Nobel Prizes, one for physics and another for chemistry. Who is she? She is Madam Curie.Madam Curie discovered radium and she was doing research on the effect of radiation on human system. The same radiation which she discovered, affected her and she sacrificed her life for removing the pain of human life.



Friends, I have, so far, met 13 million youth in a decade's time. I learnt, "every youth wants to be unique, that is, YOU! But the world all around you, is doing its best, day and night, to make you just "everybody else". In the home, dear young fellows you are asked by your parents to be like neighbour's children for scoring good marks. When you go to school, your teacher says "why not you become like the first five rankers in the class". Wherever you go, they are saying "you have to be somebody else or everybody else". Now, dear young friends, how many of you would like to be unique yourself.



The challenge, my young friends, is that you have to fight the hardest battle, which any human being can ever imagine to fight; and never stop fighting until you arrive at your destined place, that is, a UNIQUE YOU! Friends what will be your tools to fight this battle, what are they: have a great aim in life, continuously acquire the knowledge, work hard and persevere to realize the great achievement.


Distinctive Profile of India by 2020

Friends, for the past several years, I have been discussing with the young and experienced on the vision of the nation and how each one, whatever be his or her professional orientation, can contribute to the pillars of development. As I envisage, the pillars of Indian development profile 2020 are as follows:


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 where poverty has been totally eradicated, illiteracy removed and crimes against women and children are absent and none in the society feels alienated.


9. A Nation that is prosperous, healthy, secure, devoid of terrorism, peaceful and happy and continues with a sustainable growth path.


10. 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. (5) Self-reliance in critical technologies. These five areas are closely inter-related and by progressing in a coordinated way, leading to food, economic and national security.


Friends, please look carefully at each of the pillars. You will find some challenging. All of them require convergence of disciplines and technologies.


Let me discuss on convergence of technologies.


Convergence of Technologies

The information technology and communication technology have already converged leading to Information and Communication Technology (ICT). Information Technology combined with bio-technology has led to bio-informatics. Similarly, Photonics is grown out from the labs to converge with classical Electronics and Microelectronics to bring in new high speed options in consumer products. Flexible and unbreakable displays using thin layer of film on transparent polymers have emerged as new symbols of entertainment and media tools. Now, Nano-technology has come in. It is the field of the future that will replace microelectronics and many fields with tremendous application potential in the areas of medicine, electronics and material science.



When Nano technology and ICT meet, integrated silicon electronics, photonics are born and it can be said that material convergence will happen. With material convergence and biotechnology linked, a new science called Intelligent Bioscience will be born which would lead to a disease free, happy and more intelligent human habitat with longevity and high human capabilities. Convergence of bio-nano-info technologies can lead to the development of nano robots.



Nano robots when they are injected into a patient, my expert friends say, it will diagnose and deliver the treatment exclusively in the affected area and then the nano-robot gets digested as it is a DNA based product. I saw the product sample in one of the labs in South Korea where best of minds with multiple technology work with a target of finding out of the box solution.


Convergence of science is reciprocating

Let me give an example. Recently, I was at the Harvard University where I visited laboratories of many eminent Professors from the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. I recall, how Professor Hongkun Park, showed me his invention of nano needles, which can pierce and deliver content into individual targeted cells. That?s how nano particle sciences are shaping the bio sciences. On the other hand, Professor Vinod Manoharan showed how bio sciences is shaping nano material science as well. He is using DNA material to design self assembling particles. When a particular type of DNA is applied on a particle at the atomic level, he is able to generate a prefixed behavior and automatic assembly from them. This could be our answer to self assembly of devices and colonies in deep space without human intervention as envisioned by Dr K Erik Drexler. Thus, within a single research building, I saw how two different sciences are shaping each other without any iron curtain between the technologists. This reciprocating contribution of sciences to one another is going to shape our future and industry needs to be ready for it. Friends, are you ready to bring down the iron curtain existing between various technological and management disciplines.



Now, a new trend is emerging. The aspect being introduced is that of Ecology. Globally, the demand is shifting towards development of sustainable systems which are technologically superior. This is the new dimension of the 21st century knowledge society, where science, technology and environment will have to go together. Thus, the new age model would be a four dimensional bio-nano-info-eco based.


Friends, any establishment, any organization, you will be joining or you create, your own enterprise becoming an employment generator, always one demand that will come in front of you, that is: the experience of system design, system integration, and system management of the assignment or the task to be undertaken by you. I would like to present my experience of learning system design, system integration and system management while I was studying aeronautical engineering in MIT, Chennai, (1954-57) during the third year of my course.


Learning integrated system design

I was assigned a project to design a low-level attack aircraft together with six other colleagues. I was given the responsibility of system design and system integration by integrating the team members. Also, I was responsible for aerodynamic and structural design of the project. The other five of my team took up the design of propulsion, control, guidance, avionics and instrumentation of the aircraft. My design teacher Prof. Srinivasan, the then Director of MIT, was our guide. He reviewed the project and declared my work to be gloomy and disappointing. He didn?t lend an ear to my difficulties in bringing together data base from multiple designers. I asked for a month?s time to complete the task, since I had to get the inputs from five of my colleagues without which I cannot complete the system design. Prof. Srinivasan told me "Look, young man, today is Friday afternoon. I give you three days time. By Monday morning, if I don?t get the configuration design, your scholarship will be stopped." I had a jolt in my life, as scholarship was my lifeline, without which I cannot continue with my studies. There was no other way out but to finish the task. My team felt the need for working together round the clock. We didn?t sleep that night, working on the drawing board skipping our dinner. On Saturday, I took just an hour?s break. On Sunday morning, I was near completion, when I felt someone?s presence in my laboratory. It was Prof. Srinivasan studying my progress. After looking at my work, he patted and hugged me affectionately. He had words of appreciation: "I knew I was putting you under stress and asking you to meet a difficult deadline. You have done great job in system design".



Through this review mechanism Prof Srinivasan, really injected the necessity of understanding the value of time by each team member and brought out engineering education has to lead system design, system integration and system management. I realized that if something is at stake, the human minds get ignited and the working capacity gets enhanced manifold. That's what exactly happened. This is one of the techniques of building talent. The message is that young in the organization, whatever is their specialization, be trained to systems approach and projects, which will prepare them for new products, innovation and undertaking higher organizational responsibilities. Friends, you should get ready to acquire knowledge in an integrated way for using multiple disciplines towards product development and its management.



On this occasion, I have one suggestion, can you consider establishing a forum in the institution with all departments, students, administration and parents to identify technological research to move forward towards "India development profile 2020". This may lead to several projects with specific targets for sustainable development in the neighbourhood of Institution. Education system in the institution should concentrate on developing the spirit among the students "I can do it".


Dear friends, let me take you to the type of society we are entering and challenges.


The knowledge society in 21st century

The world in the 21st century will be a knowledge based society with multiple opportunities. I was reading a book, "Empires of the Mind" by Denis Waitley. This book gives, what type of the new world which we are facing now? What was yesterday and what is today. I have modified certain points of the author to suit our conditions. I have also added a third line which relates to action of educational institutes.



It specially says that "what worked yesterday, won't work today".


1. Yesterday - natural resources defined power

Today - knowledge is power

Educational Institutions will be a powerhouse for knowledge


2. Yesterday - Hierarchy was the model

Today- synergy is the mandate

Educational Institutions will be enabler of intersection of multiple faculties towards mission goals


3. Yesterday ? leaders commanded and controlled

Today - leaders empower and coach

Potential Leaders will be empowered through exposure to the needs of sustainable development


4. Yesterday - shareholders came first

Today - customers come first

Education should inculcate sensitivity to "customer" needs


5. Yesterday - employees took order

Today - teams make decision

Educational Institutions can inject team spirit




6. Yesterday - seniority signified status

Today - creativity drive status

Educational Institutions is the breeding environment for creativity


7. Yesterday - production determined availability

Today - Competitiveness is the key

Competitiveness is powered by research and university has to have the motto of "teaching-research-teaching"


8. Yesterday - value was extra

Today - value is everything

Objective Value judgment to be introduced in education


9. Yesterday - everyone was a competitor

Today - everyone is a customer

Educated customer is also from Educational Institutions


10. Yesterday - profits were earned through expediency

Today - Work with integrity and succeed with integrity.

Education with value system is the need of the hour.



Finally, I would like to ask you, what would you like to be remembered for? You have to evolve yourself and shape your life. You should write it on a page. That page may be a very important page in the book of human history. And you will be remembered for creating that one page in the history of the nation - whether that page is the page of invention, the page of innovation or the page of discovery or the page of creating societal change or a page of removing the poverty or the page of fighting injustice or a page of finding innovative cost-effective healthcare system both preventive and curative.


My best wishes to all of you success in the mission of developing quality human resource for national development.


May God bless you.



Oath for the Youth


1. I will have a goal and work hard to achieve that goal. I realize that small aim is a crime.


2. I will be a change agent for lighting the lamp of purity in my home with a message for everyone "will work with integrity and succeed with integrity".


3. Today onwards, I will persuade my parents to start a home library with minimum 20 books which will radiate knowledge in my home. Also, I will ensure my house has a prayer room where every one of us can pray for 10 minutes.


4. I will be a good member of my family, a good member of the society, a good member of the nation and a good member of the world.


5. I will always try to save or better someone's life, without any discrimination of caste, creed, language religion or state. Wherever I am, a thought will always come to my mind. That is "What can I give?"


6. I will always protect and enhance the dignity of every human life without any bias.


7. I will always remember the importance of time. My motto will be "Let not my winged days, be spent in vain".


8. I will always work for clean planet Earth and clean energy.


9. As a youth of my nation, I will work and work with courage to achieve success in all my tasks and enjoy the success of others.


10. I am as young as my faith and as old as my doubt. Hence, I will light up then, the lamp of faith in my heart.


11. My National Flag flies in my heart and I will bring glory to my nation.


Felt really good to listine to him today ..