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Interview with APJ Abdul Kalam - The Bombay Times

Pritish Nandy ()
October 13, 1998

Title: Interview with APJ Abdul Kalam
Author: Pritish Nandy
Publication: The Bombay Times
Date: October 13, 1998

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 minds. From Alexander onwards. The Greeks, the
Portuguese, the British, the French, the Dutch, all of them came and
looted
us, took over what was ours. Yet we have not done this to any other
nation.
We have not conquered anyone. We have not grabbed there land, their
culture,
their history and tried to enforce our way of life on them. Why? Because
we
respect the freedom of others. That is why my first
vision is that of FREEDOM. I believe that India got its first vision
of this in 1857, when we started the war of independence. It is this
freedom that we must protect and nurture and built on. If we are not
free,
no one will respect us. My second vision for India is DEVELOPMENT. For
fifty
years we have been developing nation. It is time we see ourselves as a
developed nation. We are among top 5 nations of the world in terms of
GDP.
We have 10 percent growth rate in most areas. Our poverty levels are
falling, our achievements are being globally recognized today. Yet we
lack
the self-confidence to see ourselves as a developed nation, self reliant
and
self assured. Isn't this right? I have third vision. The 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
not
Only as a military power but also as an economist power. Both must go
hand-in-hand. My good fortune was to have work with three great minds.
Dr.
Vikram Sarabhai of the Dept. of space, Professor Satish Dhawan, 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 this the great opportunity of my life. I see four milestones
in my
career:
ONE: Twenty years I spent in ISRO. I was given the opportunity to be
The
project director for India's first satellite launch vehicle, SLV3. The
onethat 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 program. It was my second bliss 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 tests 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 Indian.
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
carbon-carbon. One day an orthopedic surgeon from Nizam Institute of
Medical
Sciences visited my laboratory. He lifted the material and found 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 calipers weighing over three
Kgs.
each, dragging there feet around. He said to me: Please remove the pain
of
my patients. In three weeks, we made these Floor reaction Orthosis 300
gram
calipers and took them to the orthopedic center. The children didn't
believe
there eyes From dragging around a three kg. load on their legs, they
could
now move around! Their parents had tears in their eyes. That was my
forth
bliss!
Why is the media here so negative? Why are we in India so embarrassed to

recognize 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 second
largest
producer of wheat in the world. We are the second largest producer in
rice.
We are the first in milk production. We are number one in Remote sensing

satellites. Look at Dr. Sudarshan, he has transferred the tribal village

into a
self-sustaining, self driving unit. There are millions of such
achievements but our media is only obsessed with the bad news and
failures
and disasters. I was in Tel Aviv once and I was reading the Israeli
newspaper. It was the day after a lot of attacks and bombardments and
deaths
had taken place. The Hamas had struck. But the front page of the
newspaper
had the picture of a Jewish gentleman who in five years had transformed
his
desert land into an orchid and a granary. It was this inspiring picture
that
everyone woke up to. The glory details of killings, bombardments,
deaths,
were inside in the newspaper, buried among other news. In India we only
read
about death, sickness, terrorism, and crime.
Why are we so negative? Another 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 every imported? Do
we
not realize that self-respect comes with self-reliance?
I was in Hyderabad giving this lecture, when a 14 year old
girl asked me for my autograph. I asked her what her goal in life
is: She replied: I want to live in a developed India. For her, you and
I
will have to built this develop India. You must proclaim.
---------------- APJ Abdul Kalam


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