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August - September 2007


Spotlight

Vision India - A vision for life

by Punita Chandra


India’s President Dr. AKJ Abdul Kalam in one of his famous speeches said,

“I have three Visions for India. My first Vision is that of FREEDOM.

My second vision for India is DEVELOPMENT. I have a third vision: India must STAND UP to the world.

In 3000 years of our history, people from all over the world have invaded us, captured our lands, conquered our minds. From Alexander onwards, the Greeks, the Turks, the Moguls, the Portuguese, the British, the French, the Dutch, all of then came and looted us, took over what was ours. Yet we have not done this to any other nation. We have not conquered anyone.

We have not grabbed their land, their culture, their history and tried to enforce our way of life on them. Why? Because we respect the freedom of others. That is why my first vision is that of FREEDOM. I believe that India got the first vision of its freedom in 1857, when we started the war of independence. It is this freedom that we must protect, nurture and build on. If we are not free, no one will respect us.

My second vision for India is DEVELOPMENT. For fifty years we have been a developing nation. It is time we see ourselves as a developed nation. We are among the top 5 nations in terms of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). We have 10% growth rate in most areas. Our poverty levels are falling. Our achievements are being globally recognised today. Yet we lack the self confidence to see ourselves as a developed nation, self reliant and self assured. Isn’t this incorrect?

I have a third vision. India must STAND UP to the world. Because I believe that, unless India stands up to the world, no one will respect us. Only strength respects strength. We must be strong, not only as a military power, but also as an economic power. Both must go hand in hand.

I see four milestones in my career: Twenty years I spent in ISRO. I was given the opportunity to be the project Director for India’s first Satellite launch Vehicle, SLV3, the one that launched Rohini. These years played a very important role in my life as scientist.

After my ISRO years, I joined DRDO, and got a chance to be the part of India’s guided missile program. It was my second bliss when Agni met its mission requirements in 1994.

The department of atomic energy DRDO had this tremendous partnership in the recent nuclear test on May 11th and 13th. This was the third bliss. The joy of participating with my team in these nuclear tests and proving to the world that India can make it, that we are no longer a developing nation, but one of them. It made me very proud as an Indian.

We have now developed for Agni a re-entry structure for which we have developed a new very light material called carbon-carbon. An orthopaedic surgeon from Nizam Institute of Medical Sciences found this material so light that he took me to his hospital. Little girls and boys with heavy metallic callipers each weighing over three kgs, were dragging their feet around. He said, “Please remove the pain of my patients”. In three weeks, we made these Floor reactions Orthosis 300 gms callipers using carbon-carbon! The children could now move freely! This was my fourth bliss.

Why is the media here so negative? Why are we in India so embarrassed to recognise our own strengths and achievements? We are such a great nation. We have so many amazing success stories but we refuse to acknowledge them. We are the first in milk production, number one in Remote Sensing Satellites, and the second larges producer of wheat and rice.

In our tabloids in India, we only read about death, sickness, terrorism and crime. Why are we so NEGATIVE?

Another question: Why are we, as a nation so obsessed with foreign things. We want foreign TVs, foreign shirts, foreign technology. Why this obsession with everything imported? Do we not realise that self-respect comes with self –reliance?

I was in Hyderabad giving a lecture when this 14-year old girl asked for my autograph. I asked her what was her goal in life. She replied that she wanted 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.

Do you have 10 minutes for your country/ If yes, then read – YOU say that our government is inefficient, our laws are too old. YOU say that the municipality does not pick up the garbage, the phones don’t work, the railways are a joke, the airline is the worst in the world. YOU say that our country has been fed to the dogs and is in 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 pay $5 to drive through Orchard Road (equivalent of Peddar Road) between 5 & 8 pm. YOU come back to the parking lot to punch your parking ticket if you’ve overstayed irrespective of your status identity. In Singapore you don’t say anything, DO YOU?

You wouldn’t dare to eat in a public place during Ramadan in Dubai. You would not dare to buy an employee of the telephone exchange in London at £10 to “see to it that my STD and ISD calls are billed to someone else”.

You would not dare to drive beyond 55mph in Washington and then tell the cop “janta nahin main kaun hoon? Take your 20 bucks and get lost.” Why don’t you spit paan on the streets of Tokyo?

We are still talking about the same YOU who can respect and conform to a foreign system, but cannot do so in your own country. YOU will throw litter on the road the minute you touch Indian ground. If YOU can be an involved and appreciative citizen in an alien country, why cannot you be the same in India?

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.

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 making a positive contribution, we lock ourselves and our families into a safe cocoon and look into the distance at countries far away. We wait for a Mr. Clean to come along and work miracles for us, or we leave the country and run away!

Like lazy cowards 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 run 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 ones conscience too….

I am echoing J.F.Kennedy’s words to his fellow Americans to relate to Indians…..

“ASK WHAT WE CAN DO FOR INDIA AND DO WHAT HAS TO BE DONE TO MAKE INDIA WHAT AMERICA AND OTHER WESTERN COUNTRIES ARE TODAY”

Let’s do what India needs from us.”

Inspired by this speech of the President of India, a group of second generation of Indians settled in Britain, under the guidance of Mr. Krishan Ralleigh chief editor India Link International formed an organisation called

A Vision for Life

Reg Charity no 1116412

www.visionindia.org

We at Vision India agree with what’s said here and strive to achieve what this great man of our times dreams for HIS India, OUR India, YOUR India. We have adopted his three visions for India as our mission statement for VISION INDIA, and aim to do our bit to help create “A society in which every Indian has the education and ability to build for themselves and their family, a future free from poverty”.

Although the speech was delivered in India to Indians, there is a strong message in it for all NRIs living in all parts of the world. We have chosen to leave India and live abroad for reasons of our own, but mainly because many of us thought that Free India had not been able to provide enough opportunities for the new generation of young Indians.

Unfortunately, the number of educated Indians leaving India is quite high even today, and most of them have only negative things to say about India.

Do we (NRIs) think our foreign currency makes us superior, or does our foreign accent? Or do we think we automatically become more intelligent or educated just by living abroad.

We forget that if anyone is to be blamed, we NRIs are possibly the first ones. We are educated and capable. But we choose to run away from our country. If all educated people stayed on, the speed of progress that India is attaining, would only increase. Yes a lot has to change, but like Dr. Kalam said, YOU don’t just say, say, say, do something about it..

A friend once said to me, “The thing I hate about India is the poverty. I hate the slums, the filth, the beggars. I think all poor people should be shot! I like going to India to see my parents, but I can’t stand the country”. That petty statement from an Indian who considers herself superior only because she’s fortunate enough to be born in an affluent family and lives out of India, came to me as an eye-opener. Vision India was started by Indians living in the UK with a view to giving back in our own small way to India, a contribution that is due to our homeland.

It’s time to look back and appreciate the progress that India has made in just 60 years of independence, in spite of all the problems caused by the partition of the country, poverty and lack of educated manpower. Let us now acknowledge and respect what our country has achieved in terms of economic, technological and educational progress. It’s time to stop being critical and do our bit to help the ones that are still waiting to receive a helping hand, to relieve them from the suffering of poverty, disease and illiteracy.

Our Happy School in Gurgoan, Haryana aims to impart free quality education to children of impoverished families, children who otherwise would spend their life wasting on streets, victims of the vicious cycle of poverty and illiteracy. We aim to help these children through school and then sponsor higher education, so that, one day, they may be independent enough to take themselves and their country forward. We believe that the right type of education for all is the most important issue of the day. If we all emphasise on this first issue, it will make Dr. Kalam’s vision of prosperity for all Indians one step closer. Further details of Happy School are available on our website.

Our other venture, the Vinayek Charitable Hospital in Village Kanhai, Haryana, aims to eradicate disease and reduce the number of deaths that happen every year due to lack of medical attention amongst the poor. Medicine is not the privilege of the few but the right of all, irrespective of their financial circumstances. Nobody should suffer or die for lack of medical attention. A healthy society is a prosperous one. A constant supply of medicines, equipment and running costs of the dispensary are always needed. Further details are available on our website.

Vision India appeals to all Indians in the UK, to come forward on this occasion of the 60th Independence of India, and join us in doing our bit for our country. In spite of being away, we can still make a difference. A small donation of £2 a month can help with running the school and medical centre. £10 a month can sponsor a poor child’s education. No matter how many generations or years ago we may have left India, there still resides in us - a proud Indian!

Further details on how to make a donation or set up a monthly standing order can be found on our website, or kindly phone/e-mail Punita on 07985 584843 / punita@visionindia.org

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