The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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President blends pats with pleas

New Delhi, Jan. 25: Praise for the people, pat for governments, a word about those who worked the labs, and a call for another green revolution — President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam’s Republic Day-eve address to the nation was a mix of politics, science and economics.

Kalam applauded the Central and state governments along with the Election Commission for doing a commendable job in carrying out the elections in Jammu and Kashmir and Gujarat.

He congratulated the people of Kashmir for their courage in coming out and casting their ballots to keep in place the democratic traditions of the country in the face of cross-border terrorism. The polls in Kashmir and Gujarat, the President said, had proved the resilience of the democratic system, which withstood the test of “competitive politics”. He praised political parties, the media and independent groups for making this possible.

Kalam exhorted the nation to put together a second green revolution to increase agricultural yield and take the light of progress to the teeming villages throughout the country.

The President dwelt on the darker side, too. During the last six months, he said, he had visited 17 states. “I had the occasion to visit a large number of rural and drought-affected areas and I could share their concerns, grief and their aspirations,” Kalam said.

In his vision of India, Kalam called for a “mega mission” to reach urban amenities to rural areas. This, he pointed out, would require connectivity at the level of physical infrastructure, roads and communication networks. He spoke at length on the challenges India is facing, particularly in the context of continued degradation of the environment and pressures of increasing population on the land.

Kalam said production of cereals will have to go up from 200 to 300 million tonnes. He said agricultural scientists will have to work towards increasing the productivity of available land, as demands of greater afforestation would reduce arable land from 170 million hectares to 100 million hectares by 2020.

He advised students to go on literacy missions and the government to technologically upgrade small-scale industries.

Kalam had a word of praise for his former colleagues — the country’s defence scientists — who, he said, have proved their excellence by increasing the nation’s defence capabilities and capping the system with electronic warfare skills, radars, underwater sensors and weapons.

The nuclear scientists are currently engaged in constructing eight underwater nuclear power reactors, the President said.

Blasts before R-Day

On the eve of Republic Day, a policeman was killed and six others, including an officer, were injured when their vehicle hit a landmine, planted by militants, in Anantnag district of Kashmir.

In Tamil Nadu, a blast rocked a market place opposite the bus stand in Melur town, 30 km from Madurai. No one was injured.

The explosion occurred at 7.30 pm in a garbage bin, throwing splinters far and wide, creating panic in the area.

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