India’s Missile Man & His Message to India

Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam’s speech in Hyderabad.

A must read for every Indian.

“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 Turks, the Moguls, 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 their 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 build

on. If we are not free, no one will respect us.

My second vision for India is DEVELOPMENT. For fifty years we have been a

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 incorrect?

I have a THIRD vision.

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

economic power. Both must go hand-in-hand. My good fortune was to have

worked 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:

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 one that launched Rohini. These years played a very important role in my life of Scientist.

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.

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 Kg.

each, dragging their 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 their eyes.

From dragging around a three kg. load on their legs, they could now move


Their parents had tears in their eyes. That was my fourth 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.


We are the first in milk production.

We are number one in Remote sensing satellites.

We are the second largest producer of wheat.

We are the second largest producer of rice.

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 in 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 gory details of killings, bombardments, deaths, were inside in the

newspaper, buried among other news.

In India we only read about death, sickness, terrorism, crime. Why are we so


Another question: Why are we, as a nation so obsessed with foreign


We want foreign TVs, we want foreign shirts. We want foreign technology. Why

this obsession with everything 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 build this developed India. You must

proclaim. India is not an under-developed nation; it is a highly developed


Do you have 10 minutes? Allow me to come back with a vengeance.

Got 10 minutes for your country? If yes, then read; otherwise, choice is


YOU say that our government is inefficient.

YOU say that our laws are too old.

YOU say that the municipality does not pick up the garbage.

YOU say that the phones don’t work, the railways are a joke, the airline is the worst in the world, mails never reach their destination. YOU say that

our country has been fed to the dogs and is the absolute pits. YOU say, say

and say.

What do YOU do about it? Take a person on his way to Singapore. Give him a

name – YOURS. Give him a face – YOURS. YOU walk out of the airport and you

are at your International best. In Singapore you don’t throw cigarette butts

on the roads or eat in the stores. YOU are as proud of their Underground

Links as they are. You pay $5 (approx. Rs.60) to drive through Orchard Road

(equivalent of Mahim Causeway or Pedder Road) between 5 PM and 8 PM. YOU

comeback to the parking lot to punch your parking ticket if you have over

stayed in a restaurant or a shopping mall irrespective of your status

identity. In Singapore you don’t say anything, DO YOU? YOU wouldn’t dare to

eat in public during Ramadan, in Dubai. YOU would not dare to go out

without your head covered in Jeddah. YOU would not dare to buy an employee

of the telephone exchange in London at 10 pounds (Rs.650) a month to, “see

to it that my STD and ISD calls are billed to someone else.” YOU would not

dare to speed beyond 55 mph (88 km/h) in Washington and then tell the

traffic cop, “Jaanta hai main kaun hoon (Do you know who I am?). I am so and

so’s son. Take your two bucks and get lost.”

YOU wouldn’t chuck an empty coconut shell anywhere other than the garbage

pail on the beaches in Australia and New Zealand.

Why don’t YOU spit Paan on the streets of Tokyo?

Why don’t YOU use examination jockeys or buy fake certificates in Boston???

We are still talking of the same YOU. YOU who can respect and conform to a

foreign system in other countries but cannot in your own. You who will throw

papers and cigarettes on the road the moment you touch Indian ground. If you

can be an involved and appreciative citizen in an alien country, why

cannot you be the same here in India?

Once in an interview, the famous Ex-municipal commissioner of Bombay,

Mr.Tinaikar, had a point to make. “Rich people’s dogs are walked on the

streets to leave their affluent droppings all over the place,” he said. “And

then the same people turn around to criticize and blame the authorities for

inefficiency and dirty pavements. What do they expect the officers to do? Go

down with a broom every time their dog feels the pressure in his bowels?

In America every dog owner has to clean up after his pet has done the job.

Same in Japan. Will the Indian citizen do that here?” He’s right.

We go to the polls to choose a government and after that forfeit all

responsibility. We sit back wanting to be pampered and expect the government

to do everything for us whilst our contribution is totally negative. We

expect the government to clean up but we are not going to stop chucking

garbage all over the place nor are we going to stop to pick a up a stray

piece of paper and throw it in the bin. We expect the railways to provide

clean bathrooms but we are not going to learn the proper use of bathrooms.

We want Indian Airlines and Air India to provide the best of food and

toiletries but we are not going to stop pilfering at the least opportunity.

This applies even to the staff who is known not to pass on the service to

the public. When it comes to burning social issues like those related to

women, dowry, girl child and others, we make loud drawing room protestations

and continue to do the reverse at home. Our excuse? “It’s the whole system

which has to change, how will it matter if I alone forego my sons’ rights to

a dowry.” So who’s going to change the system?

What does a system consist of? Very conveniently for us it consists of

Our neighbors, other households, other cities, other communities and the

government. But definitely not me and YOU. When it comes to us actually

making a positive contribution to the system we lock ourselves along with

our families into a safe cocoon and look into the distance at countries far

away and wait for a Mr. Clean to come along & work miracles for us with a

majestic sweep of his hand or we leave the country and run away.

Like lazy cowards hounded by our fears we run to America to bask in their

glory and praise their system. When New York becomes insecure we run to

England. When England experiences unemployment, we take the next flight out

to the Gulf. When the Gulf is war struck, we demand to be rescued and

brought home by the Indian government. Everybody is out to abuse and rape

the country. Nobody thinks of feeding the system. Our conscience is

mortgaged to money. Dear Indians, The article is highly thought inductive, calls for a great deal of introspection and pricks one’s conscience

too….I am echoing J.F.Kennedy’s words to his fellow Americans to relate to




Lets do what India needs from us. Forward this mail to each Indian for a

change instead of sending Jokes or junk mails.

Thank you,

Dr. Abdul Kalaam


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