The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Kalam tip: calculated risk

Sofia, Oct. 23: Into the final lap of his week-long three-nation tour, President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam strongly advised policy planners, decision-makers and business leaders in India to take calculated risks if the country is to realise the dream of becoming a developed nation by 2020.

“Nobody has succeeded without taking a risk; if you want to succeed you will have to take calculated risks,” the President said yesterday while flying from Sudan to the Bulgarian capital. Kalam was sharing his impressions of the visit to the United Arab Emirates with the reporters accompanying him.

If there is one dominant lesson that India could learn from the Emirates’ march to development and prosperity, it is that anything can be accomplished if vision and determination are backed by the courage to take risks, Kalam said.

Excuses for inaction in the name of multifarious problems don’t hold water for the President. “The aeroplane cannot lift without the drag. But we do not celebrate the drag; we celebrate the flight,” was how Kalam put across the message.

Forty years ago, the Emirates was a barren desert. But President Sheikh al Zayed’s vision has transformed the country and Abu Dhabi and Dubai stand tall as proof of the dream becoming a reality.

Lest his comparison of the billion-plus India with the tiny UAE, whose population is just a third of Delhi’s, is dubbed unrealistic, Kalam went a bit further. “Look at the fantastic feat of the Indians working in the UAE. They are very progressive. The Neopharma drug manufacturing factory (set up by an NRI) is a state-of-the-art world-class facility.”

If Indians could take risks and emerge on the global scene from the UAE, why not Indians from India' Everything is in the realm of possibilities, “if we adjust ourselves and work hard”.

The President said he chose the UAE, Sudan and Bulgaria to tour because “I wanted to see three continents and I want to see different types of people and the quality of life and where we can contribute”.

The President was satisfied that his Vision 2020 had found an echo in Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s August 15 address from the ramparts of the Red Fort. It is now Mission 2020.

But much more needs to be done to achieve the mission’s goals in the five fields of agriculture and food processing, education and healthcare, infrastructure development, creating a knowledge-based society and development of critical technologies and strategic industries, the President said. In this regard, he described the media as the sixth dimension to the mission. Media should propagate the national mission. “It is very important for national development,” he said.

On his part, the President has whole-heartedly immersed himself in the mission. At 73, Kalam has been the busiest person in the presidential delegation — keeping engagements for almost 18 hours a day.

What is the secret of his energy' He said he would not get tired until he sees smiles in the faces of the 260 million people who now live below the poverty line. This, he said, would not be possible unless the country lifts the economic growth rate to 10 per cent and then sustains it for 10 years at a stretch.

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