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President's speech

August 14, 2003 21:48 IST

Following is the text of President APJ Abdul Kalam's address to the nation on the eve of Independence Day.

My dear Citizens of India,

On the eve of the 57th Independence Day, I extend to you my best wishes for your happiness and prosperity. My salutations to all of you at home and abroad. Let us on this occasion remember with gratitude, the selfless service rendered by the personnel of the armed forces and also those of the paramilitary forces, who guard our frontiers on the land, at sea and in the air.

Let me dedicate this Independence Day broadcast to those great souls who pioneered the Independence Movement. We remember them with reverence and gratitude, not for their religious, political, language, caste and creed affiliations, but for the ninety year saga of sacrifices to realise the singular and noble vision of heralding an Independent India.

What should we be remembered for?

Let us for a moment pause to reflect what it is that for which we would like to be remembered for by future generations. Will we be remembered for how many mosques our generation has added, will we be remembered for how many temples our generation has added or will we be remembered for how many gurudwaras our generation has added?

No, not at all. We will be remembered only if we give to our younger generation a prosperous and safe India, resulting out of economic prosperity coupled with civilisational heritage.

At this point of time I would like to share with you an experience, which I had at Raj Bhavan, Srinagar during my recent visit to the three regions of Jammu and Kashmir. A number of children from different schools of the city and the neighbourhood interacted with me and sang with me the National Anthem.

At the end of our interaction, three students approached me and introduced themselves. On was a Hindu girl, the second a Muslim boy and the third a Sikh boy. They asked me: 'Mr President, please tell us now, when will we become prosperous, free from poverty and from the fear of terrorist attacks? Allow us to go on a mission to penetrate the minds of the extremists and bring about unity of minds.'

These children represent the 300 million strong youth of the nation. The questions of the students engulfed me, resulting in a poetic verse.

'Oh Almighty, create thoughts and actions in the minds of the people of my nation, so that they live united. Light the minds of the religious leaders of my country to evolve a bridge among religions with compassion and love.

Embed the thought 'Nation is bigger than the individual or party' in the minds of the leaders.

May God, bless my people to work hard and transform the country into a prosperous nation in a decade.'

Aspirations of the people

In one year's time I visited 23 states and three Union Territories. I interacted with various cross sections of the people and had an exclusive dialogue with Members of Parliament and legislators of certain states and also presented the Developed India Plan to the Joint Session of Parliament in February 2003.

The dialogue with the people, and written responses from many citizens gave me an insight into the aspirations of the people to get into the action of transforming India into a developed nation, in less than two decades. Whether it was a remote village in Kerala, or a far away rural set-up  in Nagaland or Uri in Jammu and Kashmir, the area close to the Line of Control, I would like to emphatically state that  the feelings and aspirations for a prosperous India are the same.

Our Strengths

For India to become a developed nation, we must give thrust to the nation's core competencies. The GDP has to grow annually by 8 to 10 per cent with consistency over years instead of the current 5 percent. This year, it is reassuring that our economy in three sectors - agriculture, manufacturing and services is in the ascent phase. If we put in united efforts to keep up the momentum we can reach an 8 per cent growth rate in about a year. We should ensure the benefits of this growth should reach the economically weaker sections of society.

We should reinforce our gains in the agriculture, power, Information and Communication Technology, industrial and education sectors, space, nuclear, and defence technologies, chemical, pharmaceutical and infrastructural industries, oil exploration and refining, and more importantly in critical technologies.

When we are consolidating our strengths, we should develop increased safety consciousness to prevent loss of valuable human and material resources in road, rail, air, power, industrial and other accidents. The relief mechanisms have to reach accident sites at the right time.

The core competencies, resources and safety consciousness should be the basis on which the country can embark on a national mission for transformation.

Vision to Mission

We need to evolve and develop specific integrated missions sector-wise to take the country forward on the path of self-sustaining development. These missions will provide the thrust for the realisation of a developed India in a time bound manner. They will also provide large-scale employment opportunities for the youth, through the creation of various types of industries and enhancement of national infrastructure. I would like to discuss five specific missions.

Networking of Rivers

The first mission on the Networking of Rivers is under active consideration of my government and from the task team evolving the plan of action, we must move on to a mission mode programme including an ecological enhancement plan for executing the project. This mission will eliminate the periodical problem of droughts and floods experienced in a number of river basin states and provide both water and power security. In addition the nation has to embark on water harvesting and desalination of seawater as national missions.

Quality Power

Availability of quality uninterrupted power should be ensured at an affordable price, which is a key to economic growth. This is our second mission. The existing capacity of about 100,000 megawatts would need tripling by the year 2020. To achieve it, apart from hydel, thermal and nuclear power systems, we need to give thrust to sustainable energy resources like bio-mass, wind and solar farms of 800 to 1000 megawatts capacity and to efficient transmission and distribution.

Providing Urban amenities in Rural Areas (PURA)

Providing urban facilities to rural areas is another important mission about which I have talked to you earlier. In the long-term interest, it is necessary for us to make living in villages an attractive proposition for our people by reinforcing the rural habitat and providing modern economic linkages. To achieve this, an economically viable cluster of villages have to be created through a mission mode programme into physical, electronic, and knowledge connectivities, leading to self-sustained economic prosperity for groups of villages. It is essential that PURA has to become a business prosposition to be run by small scale industrialists, entrepreneurs, and societal establishments.

Information and Communication Technology (ICT)

The mission of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and related services is one of the wealth generators for the nation. We should aspire to increase business volume by 15 to 20 times in a ten-year duration.

The benefit of ICT must reach all parts of the country through tele-medicine, tele-education and e-governance. We have to embark on creating ICT infrastructure and developing knowledge products to promote selective self-reliance in the ICT sector, thus achieving a competitive edge globally.


The vast civilisational heritage of the country, from the Himalayas to Kanyakumari, Jammu and Kashmir, central India, the North Eastern States, Bihar, the western states, the large coastal line, the Andaman and Nicobar Islands and Lakshadweep Islands have a lot to attract tourists. After my visit to almost all the regions of the country, I have realised the tourism industry has a tremendous potential for wealth generation and should operate as our fifth mission with higher targets.

To succeed in this mission, infrastructural requirements are very essential and are to be improved. Thrust is required to be given for inland water navigation, hotels, communications and tourist promotion. If we promote sustainable tourism, it will become India's core competence. These mission areas need action and will provide a multiplier effect and give the necessary momentum to all sectors of the economy.

Enriching village life

During my visit to rural areas in certain States, I realised that the hard earned money of rural people, instead of being deployed for education of children and environmental improvements including their habitat, was being wasted in undesirable practices like alcoholism and other addictions. In certain states, I realised the ratio between males and females was not proportionate. This prompted me to evolve a declaration in consultation with the rural population for administering it to village life is as follows:

· Children are our precious wealth.
· We will give equal importance to male and female children in providing education and rights for growth of our  society.
· Earnings come out of hard work. We will not waste it in gambling and liquor. We will become role models for kids.
· We need to tell our children about the importance of education as learning gives knowledge.
· We need to jointly protect our forests and prevent pollution.
· We will plant at least five trees or saplings.

It is essential that reputed leaders and social workers while visiting rural areas can administer this oath in a similar way. Social workers, women self-help groups and  non-governmental organisations have to take-up this task as a mission. For India to develop we need vibrant villages.


Divisive forces use terrorism as a tool in the name of ethnic groupism, religious fundamentalism and sometimes political ambitions as a rationale for terrorism, leading to conflicts among nations. People are used as war tools. Within the next two decades, we will encounter a totally new situation of acute shortages of water, energy and minerals.

No single nation will be able to handle this situation by itself. Humanity will require mega-missions for harnessing solar energy, drinking water from seawater through the desalination process and bringing minerals from other planets. In such a situation, the present reasons for conflict will become insignificant and unwarranted. I call upon the neighbouring countries to see this perspective and have a bigger vision. India has definitely taken a significant peace initiative with all its neighbours.

The recent visit of our prime minister to China definitely paves the way for resolving certain outstanding issues.

The recent terrorist attack in Jammu and Kashmir through a suicide bombing, resulting in a number of casualties, of both service and civilian personnel, is a cause for serious concern. No religion has mandated killing others as a requirement for its sustenance or promotion. These cowardly acts borne out of utter frustration deserve severe condemnation and actions for preventing recurrence of such events.

Tasks before us

I am convinced that developed India 2020 vision transforming into a mission is a national challenge and requires nationwide participation. While my government is committed for such missions, every citizen of India should ask in what way he or she can contribute to these missions directly or indirectly. It is difficult to spell out all specific possibilities of tangible contribution by our citizens. I would like to mention a few here, as examples:

Educationists should build the capacities of the spirit of inquiry, creativity, entrepreneurial and moral leadership among students and become their role model. Today, professional education is becoming a commercial venture. It is not affordable for even middle class people, what to talk of people below the poverty line, state governments, universities and the managements of educational institutions should review and streamline the procedural and systemic bottlenecks in executing missions. Actions emanating from the government in all its public dealings should become fully transparent through e-governance.

Parliamentarians and legislators belonging to each constituency should become mission facilitators for their constituency and also resolve inter and intra-constituency conflicts. I am reminded of a Talim epic, which provides the code of conduct for people in high and responsible positions.

It means, people who are in high and responsible positions, if they go against righteousness, righteousness itself will get transformed into a destroyer. Whoever deviates from righteousness, whether they are an individual or states, are responsible for their own actions.

If a country is to be corruption free and become a nation of beautiful minds, I strongly feel there are three key societal members who can make a difference. They are the father, the mother and the teacher. Let us join together and launch this movement from the home and the school to eradicate corruption.


We are a large country, we are also blessed with natural resources and a highly motivated young human resource. We have to prioritise our thoughts on national development and make all other issues as "non-issues". This will ensure focus and thrust for the development process. And it will prevent dissipation of energy and resources on non-productive issues.

I appeal to political leaders, religious leaders, opinion makers, media personnel and all Indian citizens to place a moratorium on all issues which are impediments to the development fo the nation, from now and pledge ourselves to make the missions of developed India a reality.

This will be the greatest legacy that we can proudly leave behind for our next generation. Let us sacrifice our today so that our children can have a better tomorrow. I pray to the Almighty to provide us the wisdom, knowledge, physical resources and ability to work had to succeed in our missions. Allow me again, my dear citizens to wish you a very purposeful and happy Independence Day tomorrow.

Jai Hind.


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