Monday, January 18, 2010

Convocation Speech By Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam.

I am here with my promise. And so here is the link of my institute's weekly e-newsletter 'MONDAY MORNING'. You can go through the full speech Of Kalam sir in that newsletter.

And I urge you all to have patience and reach its end. This one is really fantastic. The best of his all speeches. What a deep perception this man has, for a developed India by 2020. Fabulous ! !

To go to that newsletter click here.

I feel I must quote his full speech over here. This will surely augment the number of readers of this speech a little. And also I ask you all to please forward this to as many 'Indians' as you can.

Here is his Convocation Speech (for my indolent friends) :

(Still I say please go to that link instead of reading it here on my blog. It has a wonderful photo gallery also there in that link. Have a look.)

Entering Into Knowledge Society

I am delighted to participate in the 7th Convocation of NIT Rourkela in this famous steel city. I congratulate all the graduating students for their academic performance and faculty members for shaping their young minds. My greetings to Chairman Board of Governors, Director, Faculty Members, Staff and Students of NIT, Rourkela.

During the last 5 decades, NIT Rourkela 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. Large numbers of alumni of NIT Rourkela have become entrepreneurs, and thus, employment generators. The government of India has recognized the institute as a premier institute of repute. The modernization of materials and metallurgical Engineering and Computer Science and Electronics department will substantially enhance the research capability of the institute. I congratulate the pioneers both present and past years who have strived hard for laying a robust foundation for technical education in this institute. Today I would like to talk on the topic ”Entering into knowledge society”.

Friends, when I see you all graduating today, I was thinking what thoughts I can share with you. First and foremost, 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 taken 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, (1954-1957) during the third year of my course.

Learning integrated system design.

I was designed 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. If by Monday morning 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 a great job in system designing.”

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 to 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 exactly what happened. This is one of the techniques of building talent. The message is that the 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.

The second aspect, I would like to discuss is, what type of India you are going to see in the next ten years. What are the challenges you will undertake and participate? I am going to visualize the type of India in the year 2020, so that you can build the capacities to participate in this movement.

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 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 if progressed in a co-ordinated way, will lead to food, economic and national security.

I have given you, how to transform yourself to meet the professional challenges as system technologist and contribute in realizing any one or more of the ten pillars, I have described.

Mission in life.
While entering into such type of mission in life, you need unique traits for achieving success in your missions. First of all, you have to have an aim in life. You have to set a goal. Second one, you have to acquire knowledge continuously as a life-long autonomous learner. Third you have to put in honest hard work and fourth is: you have to have perseverance in life. 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 visually Challenged first 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 his vision.
There after he worked hard got 90% in Xth class and 96% in intermediate and he set a goal to study Engineering in MIT, Boston USA. His relentless hard work not only secured seat but he got full fee waiver from MIT, Boston. Srikanth’s achievement has brought change agents of Lead India 2020 and inspired to 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, Boston. When the GE offered him a job on 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 difficult 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.

Diligent and sincere evaluation

Another important quality is, the ability to work with knowledge acquisition constantly for an aim and convert it into a certain outcome. To achieve this, you will need to constantly practice and evaluate your own actions and ideas at all moments. Only when they pass the most rigorous and honest tests, you can be certain of the outcomes of every action you take. This would require great diligence and sincerity in all your efforts. Let me give an example. When Lockheed introduced the Tristar 1011 plane, the company decided to determine the efficiency and safety of the plane by a process of rigorous tests. These evaluations lasted for 18 months and cost more than $1.5 Billion, putting the various parts of the plane through a simulation stress equivalent to 36,000 flights which is equivalent to almost 100 years of service. It was only when the plane passed all these tests, without a single malfunction, was the aircraft given a seal of approval. Dear students, all of you must derive a lesson from this example- practice and constant evaluation will make your ideas and actions perfect and inject the self confidence in you that ”I can do it”.
Now I would like to share with you the life of two great personalities who would combat all challenges and succeed in their mission through their creativity and passion.

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, hospitalised 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 really 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.”

A genius well ahead of time: Failure did not deter him

Ramanujan, born and raised in Erode, Tamil Nadu, first encountered formal mathematics at the age of ten. He demonstrated a natural ability at mathematics, and was given books on advanced trigonometry by S. L. Loney. He mastered this book by age thirteen, and even discovered theorems of his own. He demonstrated unusual mathematical skills at school, winning many awards. By the age of seventeen, Ramanujan was conducting his own mathematical research on Bernoulli numbers and the Euler-Mascheroni constant. He received a scholarship to study at Government College in Kumbakonam. He failed his non-mathematical coursework, and lost his scholarship. Srinivasa Ramanujan lived only for 33 years and did not have formal higher education or means of living. Yet, his inexhaustible spirit and love for his subject made him contribute to the treasure houses of mathematical research – some of which are still under serious study and engaging all-available world mathematicians’ efforts to establish formal proofs. Ramanujan 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 Ramanujan for the world. Professor Hardy rated various geniuses on a scale of 100. While most of the mathematicians got a rating of around 30 with rare exceptions reaching to 60, Ramanujan got a rating of 100. There cannot be any better tribute to either Ramanujan or to Indian heritage. His works cover vast areas including Prime Numbers, Hyper geometric series, Modular Functions, Elliptic Functions, Mock Theta Functions, even magic squares, apart from serious side works on geometry of ellipses, squaring the circle etc. One of the tributes to Ramanujan says that, ’every integer is a personal friend of Ramanujan’. He was elected a Fellow of The Royal Society (F R S) in 1918.

Ramanujan used to say ”An equation means nothing to me unless it expresses a thought of God”. For him the understanding of numbers was a process of spiritual revelation and connection. In his investigations into pure mathematics, he drew extraordinary conclusions that mystified his colleagues, but were usually proven, eventually, to be right. He opened a universe of theory that still today is reaping applications. The landscape of the infinite was to Ramanujan a reality of both mathematics of spirit. His love for numbers led Ramanujan to number theory. Despite being affected by chronic health problems, he was breathing Mathematics throughout his short life and his genius was recognized internationally. So friends you saw, how great creative minds, gave problem to the problems to succeed through the instrument of

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.

I am sure, the curriculum and the method of teaching in the institute has been designed to cater for the needs for 21st knowledge society.


Friends, 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 through development of PURA complexes (Providing Urban Amenities in Rural Area) any part of the country or the page of fighting injustice. I will be happy if you could write this page and mail it to me (
With these words, I once again congratulate the graduating students. My best wishes to all the members of NIT Rourkela success in the mission of developing quality technological human resource for the nation.

May God bless you.

P.S : In the first pic Kalam sir is addresing us. In the second pic, Director of our insti. Prof. Sarangi is addressing us and in the third pic, Kalam sir and the Director of our insti. Prof. Sarangi are there. ( I specially mentioned it coz u may get confused by the second pic.)


Anonymous said...

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