Dr. A.P. J. Abdul Kalam addressed the students at the XXI Convocation of
Birla Institute of Technology, Mesra
24 February 2011
Evolving a Unique You
Knowledge makes you great
I am delighted to participate in the XXI Convocation of Birla Institute of Technology, Mesra, Jharkhand. My greetings to the Director, Members of the Faculty, Staff and Students of BIT Mesra. During the last
fifty-five years, BIT Mesra has contributed significantly to the techno-economic
growth of the country by providing quality human resources who are
functioning in the industry in various capacities both in India and
abroad. A large number of alumni of BIT have become entrepreneurs, and
thus, employment generators. I congratulate the pioneers both present
and past who have strived hard for laying a robust foundation for
technical education in this institute.
As I see the youth qualifying from this great institution, different emotions occupy my mind. You have been nurtured by this unique institution founded by Sri BM Birla, who was a great visionary, industrialist and a great man with his dedication to science, engineering and education. So whatmessage do you get? A person with his vision and deeds lives for ever and continues to inspire generations. I was fortunate to work with Dr. Vikram Sarabhai, who was a great visionary and founder of diverse institutions like ISRO and IIMA, which are continuing to fulfill his dreams. Such visionaries give tremendous confidence to the youth as I believe that the energy of the youth is the most powerful resource on the earth, above the earth and under the earth. The message is: there is uniqueness in the visionaries, performers and creative leaders. Today, I would like to talk on the topic “Evolving a 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 aeroplane 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. India is fortunate, the world is fortunate to have had a millennium leader of 20th century, that is Father of the Nation “Mahatma Gandhi” who got us the freedom and also he became a great leader for South Africa’s movement against apartheid. So far, we have studied those who walked into unexplored path and strived to be unique and are remembered for their contribution to the human kind.
Inventions and discoveries have emanated from creative minds that have been constantly working and imagining the outcome in the mind. With imagining and constant effort, all the forces of the universe work for that inspired mind, thereby leading to inventions and discoveries. The question is: are you willing to become a unique personality. Let me share an experience.
I have, so far, met 11 million youth in India and abroad, 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”.
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.
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:
Distinctive Profile of India by 2020
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 will be progressing in a coordinated way will lead to food, economic and national security.
I have given you, how you have to transform yourself to meet the professional challenges as system technologist and contribute in realizing any one or more of the ten pillars that I have described.
Friends, please look carefully at each of the pillars. You will find some interesting points. All of them require
convergence of disciplines and technologies. In an engineering system level, optimisiation of systems takes place with the targets of performance, cost and schedule. In the case of human body, ultimately decisions will involve the overall well being. In the case of the nation the best decisions happen when everyone puts the nation above himself or herself. The other important aspect is the confidence that innovations can be done and changes can be brought out for the better. The third aspect is, while technologies will be developed and human welfare will be enabled, lasting peace and prosperity will happen only through development of enlightened citizenship. Every individual is responsible for practicing and spreading the message of enlightened citizenship. Let me start with 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. I am sure about the use of nano-robot
for drug delivery. 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.
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 and environment will go together. Thus the new age model would be a four dimensional
Let us take another example, how governance is enriched by information networks and technologies. They enhance efficiency, instant connectivities, better cross reference and transparency. They enable the unreached to be reached. There are plenty of opportunites in this area for enterpreunership of individuals and small organization working along with Government, private sector and large organizations. Of course many older processes of working together need to be re- engineered for speed, efficiency and transparency. When technologies and systems converge, obviously one important aspect is “systems thinking and implementation”.
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 to the management of BIT Mesra. Can you consider establishing of a forum in the institute with all departments, students, administration and parents to identify technological research to move forward towards Indian development profile 2020. This may lead to several projects with specific targets for sustainable development in the neighbourhood of the institute. Education system in BIT Mesra should concentrate on developing the spirit among the students “I can do it”. Here I would like to give an example of a visually challenged young boy, who was not deterred by his physical challenge.
I can do it
Friends, when I was the President of India, on 28 Aug 2006, I met the group of tribal students from Lead India 2020 movement. I asked all of them one question: “What you want to become?” Out of many responses, one visually challenged boy studying IX class got up. His name is Srikanth, he answered me "I will become the first visually Challenged President of India". I was very happy to see his vision and ambition. Small aim is a crime. Hence, I congratulated him to realize his vision and told him to work for realizing the vision.
Thereafter, he worked hard got 90% in Xth class and 96 % in intermediate and he set a goal to study Engineering in MIT, Cambridge USA. His relentless hard work not only secured seat but he got full fee waiver from MIT, Cambridge. Srikanth’s achievement has brought changes in many change agents of Lead India 2020 and inspired to set high vision. Lead India 2020 training has set a high vision for every student who undergoes the training process. Seeing this impact of Lead India 2020 training, GE volunteers have funded Mr. Srikanth for his travel to USA. Today he is pursuing his studies at MIT, Cambridge. When the GE offered him a job on his completion of graduation, he told them that he would certainly come back to GE, if I couldn’t become the President of India. What a confidence that boy has amidst of difficulty and the challenges in his life by being visually challenged. What a great transformation that has brought into a visually challenged boy’s life by Lead India 2020 movement through value based education intervention.
Dear graduating students, let me share with you two inspiring personalities; one has enable reaching of empowerment with education, healthcare and earning potential to the unreached tribal areas. And the other one is a great personality who could combat all the challenges and succeed in his mission through his creativity and passion.
Reaching the Unreached
In the present circumstances and environment, it was inspiring to see, how a MBBS doctor has put all his dreams in mainstreaming the tribal citizens of Karnataka state of India for the last 25 years through Vivekananda Girijana Kalyan Kendra (VGKK), at BR Hills. When I visited BR Hills in 1998 and subsequently in 2006, I could see substantial new developments in that area. I could see that “New Tribal Hospital”, Roads and education environment and above all the earning capacity of the tribal citizens have been increased with the technology resource centre as a base. Dr. H. Sudarshan, is the inspiring architect of this societal transformation.
When Dr. Sudarshan was 12 years old, his father died in a village without any medical help. This event, followed by his reading the biography of Dr. Albert Schweitzer who worked in Africa motivated Dr. Sudarshan to take up medical profession and work in tribal areas in India. Dr. Sudarshan derives his philosophy of work from Swami Vivekananda’s teachings which states “they alone live who live for others, rest are more dead than alive”.
Dr. Sudarshan starts his day at 4.30 am in the morning with Yoga, meditation and prayer with tribal school children. From 9 am to 1 pm, he goes around the ward and sees the patients individually. He takes lunch with the tribal students between 1 and 2 pm. Later, till 7 pm, he is busy in the clinic where he conducts surgeries and visits tribal complex, performs administrative work for an hour and half and has dinner with the tribal students. He devotes one hour for study between 9 and 10 pm, so that he gets updated information about medical systems. He spends large part of his time in Clinical Diagnosis, Laboratory diagnosis and treatment, in addition to Supervising, Monitoring, teaching and carrying out research along with his team members.
Dr. Sudarshan pays particular attention to the special problems of the tribals such as Snake bite cases, Mauling by bears, Pneumonia, Tuberculosis and Acute Respiratory Infections. The Soliga tribal people suffer from Sickle Cell Anemia and Dr. Sudarshan has developed a low cost electrophoresis machine for diagnosing the disease. He has also built the healthcare system on the strengths of traditional knowledge available in the tribal areas. The secret of his service is that he is empowering the people to manage their own health through the provision of knowledge. He has trained tribal girls as Auxiliary Nurse & Midwife (ANM) and posted them in the Tribal
Sub-centers. These nurses undergo 18 months course. Thus the rural area is self-sufficient
in nursing resource. He has also developed low cost management system
for Epilepsy in the Primary Healthcare Centre (PHC). He has introduced
Dental Healthcare and Cancer Control in the PHC. He is providing quality
healthcare to the people by the introduction of low premium health
insurance for all the people living below poverty line. Dr. Sudarshan
says ‘the greatest joy, he experienced was when he resuscitated a
patient whose lungs and heart had stopped and when he sees the smile on
the face of poor patients who come to the hospital with blindness
(cataract in both eyes) and walk out with full vision after the cataract
surgery. Country needs thousands of Dr. Sudarshans for providing
healthcare to our rural citizens.
Birth of Creativity in a difficult situation
Mario Capecchi had a difficult and challenging childhood. For nearly four years, Capecchi lived with his mother in a chalet in the Italian Alps. When World War II broke out, his mother, along with other Bohemians, was sent to Dachau as a political prisoner. Anticipating her arrest by the Gestapo, she had sold all her possessions and given the money to friends to help raise her son on their farm. In the farm, he had to grow own wheat, harvest, take it to miller to be ground. Then, the money which his mother left for him ran out and at the age of four and half years, he started sometimes living in the streets, sometimes joining gangs of other homeless children, sometimes living in orphanages and most of the time hungry. He spent the last year in the city of Reggio Emelia, hospitalized for malnutrition where his mother found him on his ninth birthday after a year of searching. Within weeks, the Capecchi and his mother sailed to America to join his uncle and aunt.
He started his 3rd grade schooling afresh over there and started his education, interested in sports, studied political science. But he didn’t find interesting and changed into science, became a mathematics graduate in 1961 with a double major in Physics and Chemistry. Although he liked Physics, its elegance and simplicity, he switched to molecular biology in graduate school, on the advice of James D Watson, who advised him that he should not be bothered about small things, since such pursuits are likely to produce only small answers.
His objective was to do gene targeting. The experiments started in 1980 and by 1984, Capecchi had clear success. Three years later, he applied the technology to mice. In 1989, he developed the first mice with targeted mutations. The technology created by Doctor Capecchi allows researchers to create specific gene mutations anywhere they choose in the genetic code of a mouse. By manipulating gene sequences in this way, researchers are able to mimic human disease conditions on animal subjects. What the research of Mario Capecchi means for human health is nothing short of amazing, his work with mice could lead to cures for Alzheimer’s disease or even Cancer. The innovations in genetics that Mario Capecchi achieved won him the Nobel Prize in 2007. Noble laureate Capecchi life indeed reveals: -
“When you wish upon a star, Makes no difference who you are Anything your heart desires Will come to you.”
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-
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
We talked about many changes in society and the preparedness of young graduates in terms of knowledge, systems thinking, steadfastness and hard work. However one important characteristic for peace and prosperity of human beings is enlightened citizenship. I believe that this has three components:
(1) Education with value system
(2) spirituality bridging religions and
(3) Economic development.
As we hear in many divine places, the fundamental to this is Righteousness in the heart:
(1) Education with value system
(2) spirituality bridging religions and
(3) Economic development.
As we hear in many divine places, the fundamental to this is Righteousness in the heart:
Righteousness in the heart
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.
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 planning and executing mission of networking of rivers.
I am sure, you would like to do something different – out of box missions, what are they?
1. Will you be remembered for a visionary action for the nation, like Prof. Vikram Sarabhai or Homi Bhabha or Dr.DS Kothari in the field of space science, nuclear science and Defence Science?
2. Will you be remembered for introducing new industrial system product, like
nano-car or office transaction mode in mobile?
3. Will you be remembered for creating a company which finds a place in the top 100 of the Fortune 500 companies from India?
4. Will you be remembered for facilitating the creation of 100 PURAs (Providing Urban Amenities in Rural Areas) in your region?
5. Will you be remembered for becoming the pioneer in developing a smart water way in the states and Interlinking of Rivers in the nation?
6.Will you be remembered for working and creating a validated system for the production of 340 million tonnes of food grains and value addition through food processing by the year 2020?
7. Will you be remembered for modernization of 10 million SME’s and addition of another Million by providing Private equity funding ventures?
8. Will you be remembered as a venture capital banker by introducing the unique private equity funding for the ideas that will bring new dimension to the society.
9. Will you be remembered for bringing energy independence for the nation?
10. Will you be remembered for the action oriented – “Clean home, clean environment, clean state and clean nation”
11. Will you be remembered for developing one million enlightened youth in your region who will participate in the accelerated societal transformation of the nation?
I will be happy if you write your thoughts, particularly the graduating students to my email id firstname.lastname@example.org.
With these words, I once again congratulate the graduating students. My best wishes to all the members of BIT Mesra success in the mission of developing quality technological human resource for the nation.
May God bless you!
1.Engineering and Technology is a life time mission. I will work, work and work and succeed.
2.Wherever I am, a thought will always come to my mind. That is what process or product I can innovate, invent or discover.
3.I will always remember that “Let not my winged days, be spent in vain”.
4.I realize I have to set a great technological goal that will lead me to think high, work and persevere to realize the goal.
5.My greatest friends will be great scientific and technological minds, good teachers and good books.
6.I firmly believe that no problem can defeat me; I will become the captain of the problem, defeat the problem and succeed.
7.I will work and work for removing the problems faced by planet earth in the areas of water, energy, habitat, waste management and environment through the application of science and technology.
8.My National Flag flies in my heart and I will bring glory to my nation.
The above text was taken from www.bitmesra.ac.in and has been put on this blog so that it reaches to students community to whom it was actually addressed by great Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam.
Kindly check website www.abdulkalam.com .
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