Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Dr. Abdul Kalam's Letter to Every Indian

I received the following by email.... I personally donot consider myself worthy of writing something about a great Indian like Dr Abdul Kalam.... he is one of those rare Indians who has earned the respect and adoration of every Indian. I am not sure if this piece has been written by Dr Kalam, but having read a couple of his books, I am sure this piece represents what his thoughts have always been about India and how we can collectively take India to its rightful place. So without much ado.....


Image is courtesy Google Images.

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. Why?
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 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 NEGATIVE? Another question: Why are we, as a nation so obsessed with foreign things? We want foreign T.Vs, 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 nation.

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 come back 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 ?

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 neighbours, 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 Indians…..


Lets do what India needs from us.



BK Chowla said...

Dr Kalaam is too big a person to be commented on.
I wish we had few more like him to take country along.
I also wish well meaning countrymen-politicians to follow his thoughts.

Balvinder Singh said...

JP, i also read this mail some time back and agree with Dr. Kalam one 100%. Once i traveled from Bombay to Delhi in a Mumbai-Delhi-London flight. As soon as the boarding was announced at Mumbai airport the passengers started jostling to get first into the bus, creating an unpleasant scene there. Suddenly someone from amongst the passengers remarked that one should watch the same crowd at Heathrow where they start acting as most well behaved citizens as soon as they land there.

Renu said...

I just hope that few of us follow him.

Yesterday i read somewhere being honest and having values doesnt mean that we are honest when somebody is watching, its like living that value..never misusing public things and funds, being a responsible citizen etc....

L. Venkata Subramaniam said...

He really has a way of reaching across age, religious, caste,economic.... barriers.

Very few people in India can do that today!

J P Joshi said...

BK Chowla: Agree with your comment. Dr Kalam is really one of a kind - I too hope that I can imbibe some of his qualities and also have some more of his kind in India. His 'simple living and high thinking' has always been a source of inspiration.

Balvinder: I see this phenomenon too every time I travel. It is very disturbing but then what can one do...?

Reflections said...

I've received this many times and I read it top to bottom everytime. It is a message from the if only we all took it the same way.

But there is a difference nowadays maybe little nevertheless people are waking up to the fact tht they can make a difference.

Wishing u a very Happy New Year!!!

p.s: u've been awarded:-)

J P Joshi said...

Renu: I agree. I will re-double my efforts to follow his sane advice.

The second part of your comment is so true - what actually matters is what one does when no one is watching.

LVS: Agree with you and isn't that really sad for a country like ours?

J P Joshi said...

Reflections: A very happy New year to you, and thank you.

I recieved this for the first time and did not want it to go the usual 'delete' way. I wanted to keep it for my own reference - no better place than my blog. I have seen this great and very humble man at close quarters and have always admired him.

He makes it a point to speak with the younger generation and he sure gets a very attentive audience in them. He really can get through to people, like LVS said above. All because his deeds match his words, and his message is always much larger than himself, unlike most of us.