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An inspiring extract from Late Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam’s preface to Ignited Minds: Unleashing The Power Within India. The former President of India died while delivering a speech at the Indian Institute of Management, Shillong, on 27 July 2015. His last words were:"The topic I have selected is: Creating a Liveable Planet Earth. Dear friends,"

Photo: abdulkalam.nic.in

I have chosen to write about this subject of igniting young minds so that India turns into a developed nation by the year 2020 because all through my career in the field of technology and its management, I relied on the power and potential of youth. My strength has been my young teams who never let me down. And what satisfaction there was in working with them on some of the most complex projects in some of the most challenging situations! Given the freedom to achieve and guided properly, I am convinced the young of India can accomplish far more.

As I began writing, I wondered if I was not overreaching myself. I thought: Who am I to write about this capacity of India to realize its destiny as a developed nation? What do I really know about how this can be accomplished beyond what I have learned in my projects and missions evolved around science and technology? Isn't this an area that political leaders, economists, thinkers and other competent people would address better? How am I qualified to tell others about an ability that has been generally ignored?

At first as I was putting down my experiences with youth, I had no idea of what I would have to say. However, I put aside my doubts and began to examine what I hear from the people I meet during my visits to different places, particularly children, saints and seers, teachers, scientists, industry leaders and even political leaders. I am sure on my part that India has the ability to transform itself into a developed nation. Through my projects in space, defence and nuclear sectors, I know that our people have the ability to achieve the best in the world. They have a fantastic mix of belief and knowledge that sets them apart from any other nation on earth. I also know that their potential has gone untapped because we have become used to being subjugated and docile. What better project can I undertake than to tell my people that what they dream of can become possible, that they can have anything that comprises a good life: health, education, the freedom to pursue their goals, and above all, peace.

My quest for answers as to how this could be done took me to schools, the countryside, ashrams and many other places which were not part of my itinerary earlier. It was a new kind of experience, a very stimulating one at that. The paddy fields in Bihar left to an ad-hoc cycle of agriculture, the untapped mineral wealth of the newly formed state of Jharkhand and the unattended biodiversity of Tripura, throwing a great challenge to the knowledge era that is dawning. In Assam the sight of the mighty Brahmaputra almost mesmerized me. Its vast expanse of water filled me with a strange sense of helplessness too-the river's untapped flow was taking a gigantic mass of water into the sea. It made me think, that as a nation too we were failing to utilize our tremendous energies.

Where are we making a mistake? What is it that needs to be corrected? We have a roadmap in our five-year plans that cover some of the things we need to achieve. We have most of the necessary resources. There seems to be an attitude problem, as if we cannot shake ourselves out of a mindset of limited achievement. This book is all about breaking away from the forces that would prefer us to remain a nation of a billion people selling cheap labour and raw materials and providing a large market for goods and services of other nations.

I am writing this book to make my young readers hear a voice that says, 'Start moving.' Leadership must lead us to prosperity. Young Indians with constructive ideas should not have to see them wither in the long wait for approval. They have to rise above norms which are meant to keep them timid in the name of safety and to discourage entrepreneurship in the name of trade regimes, organizational order and group behaviour. As it is said, Thinking is the capital, Enterprise is the way, Hard Work is the solution.

Every nation has struggled to achieve its goals. Generations have given their best to make life better for their offspring. There is nothing mysterious or hidden about this, no alternative to effort. And yet we fail to follow the winning track. More than the problems outside-globalization, recession, inflation, insurgency, instability and so on-I am concerned about the inertia that has gripped the national psyche, the mindset of defeat. I believe that when we believe in our goals, that what we dream of can become reality, results will begin to follow. Ignited Minds is about developing that conviction in ourselves, and discarding the things that hold us back.

This was, in fact, a central thought that I kept in mind as I wrote. Share my dream of a developed India and see it made real in your own and others' lives. In my own way, I have tried to follow my beliefs, to do what I loved doing. I have tried, however, to guide but not to impose my views on others.

Source: abdulkalam.nic.in

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