How To Transform Society Dr APJ Abdul Kalam Way: ‘Mission India’ — An Excerpt

Dr.APJ Abdul Kalam’s benevolence and goodwill towards society is no news to us. The late President of India was a beautiful boon that mankind witnessed.  His ‘Mission India : A Vision for Indian Youth’ addresses the youth in their endeavour to contribute to the nation’s progress. The book also plays an important role in that it tells every individual and organisation how they can shape and transform the nation by 2020.

Read the excerpt below to remember this amazing soul!

If you think about the development of human civilization, you will find that the pace of social and economic growth has been closely related to the proficiency with which people have been able to use the materials and chemicals in the world around them. In the beginning, this was through keen observation and trial and error. Thousands of years ago, men and women discovered, perhaps by accident, that they could hunt more easily if they sharpened rocks into weapons. They discovered that certain herbs helped to heal wounds. Once they discovered these properties of the materials around them, they remembered these and started using them. Their knowledge of these few things was slowly extended to others. As more and more knowledge was accumulated, human civilization as we know it today developed. Think about all the things you take for granted, as a normal part of life. Do you know it was only about two hundred

years ago that man started using coal and oil as energy sources to run machinery? The railways were invented. As a result, man could transport raw materials from far away to create new products and also sell them in distant places. It thus became very easy for goods to be transported, made easier still by the advent of the automobile and the aeroplane. Today, you can talk to people across the world from wherever you are—home, office, on a bus. But mobile phones were commercially available only from 1987. The first mobiles were available in India from 1994–95—and there were over 10 million users by 2002! Even something which seems as simple as a matchbox was only invented in the late nineteenth century—less than 120 years ago. Imagine how difficult it was to light a fire before that! Some ten years ago, the Internet became widely used. A vast world of information became available on the computer at the click of a mouse. As a result, knowledge flows so much easier. Sitting at your desk in India, you can find out about events and technologies all over the world. When I was writing this book, it was so much quicker for me to check the facts.

Ten years ago, it would have taken me ten times as long to write it, as I would have to go to many libraries and talk to many different people to get the same amount of information. The creation of so much technology is dependent on the creation of the advanced materials which are used to create computers, fibre optic cables, scanners and printers. Just imagine then, how different the world can be a hundred years from now! At the present rate of growth, in twenty years we can have trains that will travel from Delhi to Mumbai in a few hours—there is talk already of trains that can move as fast as planes using electromagnetic technology, robots in every home that can do the housework, and computers that will write down your homework as you talk! In this exciting world of rapid change, you have many wonderful opportunities to change the world and change India, if you can think out of the box and work with technology!

There are so many new materials available nowadays which our grandparents did not have access to. Our houses are full of modern materials: stainless steel, fibre glass, plastics, musical

and audio-visual materials. In the world outside, there are so many new materials as well: lightweight, high-performance alloys help us build aircraft, satellites, launch vehicles and

missiles and various kinds of plastics. Think of all the things in your daily life which are made of plastic—and imagine a world without them. The better use a country can make of its materials and chemicals, the more prosperous it will be. These new materials can also help in making life easier in ways that were not thought of when they were being invented. The DRDO has developed at least fifteen promising life science spin-off technologies from what were originally defence projects, some of them missile programmes.

You must have heard of Agni, India’s indigenously produced intermediate-range ballistic missile, first test-fired in May 1989. For Agni, we at the Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) developed a new, very light material called carbon-carbon. One day, an orthopaedic surgeon from the Nizam Institute of Medical Sciences in Hyderabad visited my laboratory. He lifted the material and found it so light that he took me to his hospital and showed me his patients—little girls and boys who had polio or other problems, as a result of which their legs could not function properly. The doctors helped them to walk in the only way they could—by fitting heavy metallic callipers on their legs. Each calliper weighed over 3 kg, and so the children walked with great difficulty, dragging their feet around. The doctor who had taken me there said to me, ‘Please remove the pain of my patients.’ In three weeks, we made these Floor Reaction Orthosis 300-gram callipers and took them to the orthopaedic centre. The children could not believe their eyes! From dragging around a 3-kg load on their legs, they could now move around freely with these 300-gram callipers. They began running around! Their parents had tears in their eyes. An ex-serviceman from a middle-class family in Karnataka wrote to us, after reading about how we had assisted polio-affected children. He inquired if something could be done for his twelve-year-old daughter who was suffering from residual polio of the leg and was forced to drag herself with a 4.5-kg calliper made out of wood, leather and metallic strips. Our scientists invited the father and daughter to our laboratory in Hyderabad, and together with the orthopaedic doctors at the Nizam’s Institute of Medical Sciences, designed a Knee Ankle Foot Orthosis weighing merely 400 grams. The girl’s walking almost returned to normal using this. The parents wrote to us a couple of months later that the girl had learned cycling and started going to school on her own.

Dr.Kalam contributed immensely to development of the nation. Purchase your copy to read more on the man and his extraordinary talent and achievement in the field of science, education, society and so on.

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