Saturday, December 11, 2010

IIM Indore – Eighth Foundation Day Lecture Dr. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam’s Address: IIM Indore

12:37pm 03/Oct/2007

“Creative Leadership”
“Visionary Leaders make the nation Great”
I am delighted to be with you all at IIM Indore and discuss with you on creative

My greetings to the students, teachers and other members of the audience.

      I was going through the significant progress of IIM, Indore I was attracted to one unique
aspect of your programme 'Social sensitivity'. In the last five years, I have been visiting
all the states and union territories of the country, many nations and have come across
several innovative leaders and organizations. It is remarkable how the initiatives of
individuals and organizations are touching human lives and contributing to the national
development. I would like to discuss how the leadership touched the human lives by the
creative way of life in fields of political, scientific, technological and industrial areas.
1. Indomitable spirit of political leaders
2. Vision in Space science and technology
3. Technology Leadership and
4. Failure management
5. Leadership in science
6. Vision in industry

Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela – the Great Political Leadership
I recall my traveling on 16th September 2004 in a train powered by steam engine in a
first class compartment of 1900’s vintage organized by Durban state of South Africa.
When the train was moving from one station to another, Mahatma Gandhi's struggle
against apartheid system in South Africa was going through my mind. The train halted at
Pietermartizburg, the station where the monster of apartheid bite Gandhiji on a cold
winter night. He was evicted out of a first class compartment because of the colour of his
skin. When I alighted at the Pietermartizburg railway station, I saw a plaque in the
railway station, which reads like this:
In the Vicinity of this plaque M.K. GANDHI was evicted from a first class compartment
on the night of 7 June 1893. This incident changed the course of his life. He took up the
fight against racial oppression. His active non-violence started from that date.
This was the rebirth of Ahimsa Dharma after the Kalinga War in 300 B.C. Gandhiji later
developed the Ahimsa Dharma and gave India a powerful tool to win independence.
Forgiveness gives greatness
When I was standing at the Pietermartizburg railway station my thoughts were hovering
on two scenes, which I experienced in South Africa. One scene was, in Robben Island
where Dr. Nelson Mandela had been imprisoned for 26 years, in a very small cell, and the
other scene was at the house of Dr. Nelson Mandela.
Cape Town is famous for its Table Mountain; it has got three peaks called Table Peak,
Devil Peak, and Fake Peak. Between the Peaks it was a beautiful sight throughout the
day, sometimes-dark clouds and sometimes white clouds embracing the peaks. Table
Mountain is very close to the seacoast of the Atlantic Ocean. I flew by helicopter to
Robben Island from Cape Town in 10 minutes. When we reached the Island, except sea
roaring, the whole island was silent symbolizing the thought: this is the place the freedom
of individuals was chained. Mr. Ahmed Kathrada, a South African, who was a coprisoner
with Dr. Nelson Mandela, received us at the Island. What surprised me was, in a
tiny room where sleeping and all human needs have to be fulfilled. It has to be
remembered that Dr. Nelson Mandela, who was 6 feet tall was imprisoned in that room
for 26 years – fighting against the apartheid. The major part of his life was spent in this
silent Island. He used to be taken for quarrying in the nearby mountain for a few hours in
bright sun. This is the time his sight got damaged. In spite of his body being tortured he
revealed to the world his indomitable spirit. This is the time he evolved a manuscript of
freedom in tiny letters every day, when the jail wardens went to sleep. This small tiny
lettered manuscript finally became the famous book of Mandela “A long walk to
It was a great event for me to meet him in his house in Johannesburg. What a moving
reception, the man at the age of 86 gave with all smiles. Dear friends, I would like to
share with you, when I entered Dr. Nelson Mandela’s house, I saw his three dimensional
form with cheerfulness: the mighty man who got the freedom for South Africa from the
tyranny of apartheid. When I was leaving from his house he came to the portico to give
me a send off and while walking he discarded his walking stick and I became his support.
While walking I asked him, “Dr. Mandela can you please tell me about the pioneers of
anti apartheid movement in South Africa?” He responded spontaneously, “of course one
of the great pioneers of South Africa’s freedom movement was M.K. Gandhi. India gave
us M.K. Gandhi, we gave you back Mahatma Gandhi after two decades. Mahatma
Gandhi was an apostle of Non-Violence”. That is indeed the tradition of India - to enrich
whichever nation we go, our foremost responsibility is to enrich that nation. Enriching
the nation is not only in financial terms, but enrich with knowledge, enrich with sweat
above all enrich with honour and self-dignity.
Nelson Mandela when he became the President of South Africa he gave the people who
specialized in apartheid and ill-treated and put him in the jail for 26 years, freedom to
move, freedom to live in South Africa as equal citizens. Dear friends, a big lesson that we
learnt from this personality Dr. Nelson Mandela is beautifully captured in one of the
Thirukkurals written 2200 years before by the Poet Saint Thiruvalluvar:
Which means, for those who do ill to you, the best punishment is to return good to them.
Two political leaders Mahatma Gandhiji and Dr. Nelson Mandela indeed transformed
India and South Africa into independent and democratic nations of more than 1/6th of
World population. This leadership has paved the way for many nations towards freedom
movement. Now let me present to you how a Space Visionary made a change in our lives.
Indian Space Science Visionary

Now I would like to start by sharing with you, India's great visionary in space science and
space technologies Prof. Vikram Sarabhai, who was my Guru.

Vikram Sarabhai
Dr.Kalam and Sarabhai

Very rarely, in the life
journey, great human beings influence one's life. I was fortunate to work with Prof.
Vikram Sarabhai for seven years. While working closely with him, I saw the dawn of the
vision for the space programme in a one page statement. Witnessing the evolution of this
one page by many years of ceaseless work by a cosmic ray physicist, a great scientific
mind was really a great learning for me. Also I was thrilled to see the famous vision
statement of Prof Vikram Sarabhai made in the year 1970 which states "India with her
mighty scientific knowledge and power house of young, should build her own huge
rocket systems (satellite launch vehicles) and also build her own communication, remote
sensing and meteorological spacecraft and launch from her own soil to enrich the Indian
life in satellite communication, remote sensing and meteorology." When I look at this
vision statement now, I am overwhelmed to see the results of this statement. Today, India
can build any type of satellite launch vehicle, any type of spacecraft and launch from
Indian soil and also it has all the capability with its mighty facilities and powerful human
resource. The ICT has made tremendous contribution towards the high performance
onboard computers and advanced embedded software systems in the Indian launch
vehicles and spacecraft programmes. Through space technology and space science, India
can be a partner in the world space programme to enrich the planet earth and further
exploration. I witnessed this personally in Hyderabad three days back when I saw my self
how the international community in space is applauding the Indian capabilities in
bringing the benefits of this high technology to common people. Today, India can build
any type of satellite launch vehicle, any type of spacecraft and launch from Indian soil
and also it has all the capability with its mighty facilities and powerful human resource
because of the vision of Prof. Vikram Sarabhai.

Technology Leader - Prof. Satish Dhawan: Leadership- Failure management

Two and a half decades ago, while I was working at ISRO, I had the best of education,
which won't come from any university. I will narrate that incident. I was given a task by
Prof. Satish Dhawan the then Chairman, ISRO to develop the first satellite launch vehicle
SLV-3, to put ROHINI Satellite in orbit. This was one of the largest high technology
space programmes undertaken in 1973. The whole space technology community, men
and women, were geared up for this task. Thousands of scientists, engineers and
technicians worked resulting in the realization of the first SLV-3 launch on 10th August
1979. SLV-3 took off in the early hours and the first stage worked beautifully. But the
mission could not achieve its objectives, as the control system in 2nd stage
malfunctioned. There was a press conference at Sriharikota, after the event. Prof. Dhawan
took me to the press conference. And there he announced that he takes responsibility for
not achieving the mission, even though I was the project director and the mission
director. When we launched SLV-3 on 18th July 1980, successfully injecting the Rohini
Satellite in to the orbit, again there was a press conference and Prof. Dhawan put me in
the front to share the success story with the press. This success generated great happiness
among all my team members. What we learn from this event is that the leader gives the
credit for success to those who worked for it, and leader absorbs and owns the
responsibility for the failure. This is the quality of leadership. The space community in
India has the fortune to work with such leaders, which resulted in many
accomplishments. This management style is an important message for all the scientific,
technological, industrial and even political teams.
Science Leadership - Sir CV Raman - Value of Science
When I am in the midst of students of management and teachers and scholars, I thought
of sharing with you an incident about Sir CV Raman –a Nobel Laureate in Physics for
discovering Raman Effect. Raman was in the first batch of Bharat Ratna Award winners.
The award ceremony was to take place in the last week of January, soon after the
Republic Day celebrations of 1954. The then President Dr. Rajendra Prasad wrote to
Raman inviting him to be the personal guest in the Rashtrapati Bhavan, when Raman
came to Delhi for the award ceremony. Sir CV Raman wrote a polite letter, regretting his
inability to go. Rama n had a noble reason for his inability to attend the investiture
ceremony. He explained to the President that he was guiding a Ph.D. student and that
thesis was positively due by the last day of January. The student was valiantly trying to
wrap it all up and Raman felt, he had to be by the side of the research student, see that the
thesis was finished, sign the thesis as the guide and then have it submitted. Here was a
scientist who gave up the pomp of a glittering ceremony associated with the highest
honour, because he felt that his duty required him to be by the side of the student. It is
this unique trait of giving value to science that builds science. This is one experience,
how leadership can be given for the growth of science.
Leadership in Industry – Jamsetji Nauroji Tata – Vision leads to progress
When I am addressing this gathering, a unique letter comes to my mind. This letter I saw
in Jamshedpur at Tata Exhibition written by Jamsetji N Tata on 23rd Nov 1898. I would
like all of you to know about this letter, which I am going to read. It gives a very
important message. I quote:
"Dear Swami Vivekananda ,
I trust, you remember me as a fellow-traveller on your voyage from Japan to Chicago. I
very much recall at this moment your views on the growth of the ascetic spirit in India,
and the duty, not of destroying, but of diverting it into useful channels.
I recall these ideas in connection with my scheme of Research Institute of Science for
India, of which you have doubtless heard or read. It seems to me that no better use can be
made of the ascetic spirit than the establishment of monasteries or residential halls for
men dominated by this spirit, where they should live with ordinary decency, and devote
their lives to the cultivation of sciences - natural and humanistic. I am of opinion that, if
such a crusade in favour of an asceticism of this kind were undertaken by a competent
leader, it would greatly help asceticism, science, and the good name of our common
country; and I know not who would make a more fitting general of such a campaign than
Vivekananda. Do you think you would care to apply yourself to the mission of
galvanazing into life our traditions in this respect? Perhaps you had better begin with a
fiery pamphlet rousing our people in this matter. I should cheerfully defray all the
expenses of publication.
23rd November 1898
Jamsetji N Tata
Jamsetji N Tata has written this letter to Swami Vivekananda asking him to take the
leadership of a Research Institute for Science in India. Imagine the type of courage and
vision a progressive industrialist Jamsetji had to write to a spiritual leader. This strength
he derived from one important incident, which took place during a voyage from Japan to
At this point let me share the meeting between Swami Vivekananda and Jamsetji
Nusserwanji Tata during a ship journey. It happened in 1893. A ship was sailing from
Japan to USA. There were hundreds of people in that ship including two significant
personalities. Swami Vivekananda and Jamsetji Tata were in that ship. Swamiji asked
Jamsetji for what mission he was traveling. Jamsetji said that he wanted to bring steel
industry to India. Swami Vivekananda blessed him. He suggested steel technology had
two components – one is steel science and the other is manufacturing technology. What
can you bring to this country in material technology – you will have to build material
science within the country. Jamsetji was thinking and thinking and made a decision.
Earlier when Jamsetji went to London he asked for technology transfer for Steel Plant.
UK steel manufacturers looked at Jamsetji and said that if Indians make steel, Britishers
will eat it. Jamsetji crossed the Atlantic Ocean, talked to Americans and brought
manufacturing technology for steel. And the Tata Steel was established in Jamshedpur.
He seeded and worked for the steel plant. Jamsetji is not there now, but 7 million tones
per annum steel is rolling out. The visionary Jamsetji gave one portion of his asset for
starting a science institute today known as Indian Institute of Science at Bangalore. The
message I would like to convey to this audience, dream gives vision, vision gives
thoughts and thought leads to actions. Jamsetji brought two establishments to this country
– first one was steel plant and the other was an educational research institution based on
the vision of Swami Vivekananda.
Now you will realize the significance of the letter from Jamsetji to Swami Vivekananda.
A visionary like Jamsetji with the blessing of Swamiji paved the way for the
establishment of Indian Institute of Science in 1909. The Indian Institute of Science born
out of a vision of great minds is the foremost scientific research institution providing post
graduate education. This institution as envisaged by Swami Vivekananda dreamt, has one
of the best material science labs, providing the best of research results for development
and production of material for various R&D labs and industries. Also Indian Institute of
Science is a world class institution in various areas for physics, aerospace technology,
knowledge products, bio-science and bio-technology. This is the one institution where
convergence of technology like bio-technology, information technology and nanotechnology
is emerging. The results will have tremendous influence in improving solar
cell efficiency and healthcare, particularly drug delivery system. This institution also
participated in the research and development of space programmes, defence programmes
and also many societal missions. You can see how the vision of Swami Vivekananda has
been transformed into a great research and teaching institution.
Leadership in Management of billions
The Indian management professionals coming out of various reputed institutions
including yours have become internationally famous. They serve many corporate houses
of Indian and multinational firms. The question however is whether that is adequate
enough, for vision India 2020? Can MBAs coming out of IIM Indore provide managerial
leadership for the billion people of India? The Indian vision will be achieved, I am sure
all of you will agree with me, by a synergy and team work of private sector, public sector,
state and central governments, NGOs and citizens. How can creative leadership be
generated to address all the segments and make the Management leadership for the
In this context, now let me describe my visualization of the distinctive profile of India by
Distinctive Profile of India by 2020
1. A Nation where the rural and urban divide has reduced to a thin line.
2. A Nation where there is an equitable distribution and adequate access to energy and
quality water.
3. A Nation where agriculture, industry and service sector work together in symphony.
4. A Nation where education with value system is not denied to any meritorious
candidates because of societal or economic discrimination.
5. A Nation, which is the best destination for the most talented scholars, scientists, and
6. A Nation where the best of health care is available to all.
7. A Nation where the governance is responsive, transparent and corruption free.
8. A Nation where poverty has been totally eradicated, illiteracy removed and crimes
against women and children are absent and none in the society feels alienated.
9. A Nation that is prosperous, healthy, secure, devoid of terrorism, peaceful and happy
and continues with a sustainable growth path.
10. A Nation that is one of the best places to live in and is proud of its leadership.
Integrated Action for develope d India
To achieve the distinctive profile of India, we have the mission of transforming India into
a developed nation. We have identified five areas where India has a core competence for
integrated action: (1) Agriculture and food processing (2) Education and Healthcare (3)
Information and Communication Technology (4) Infrastructure: Reliable and Quality
Electric power, Surface transport and Infrastructure for all parts of the country. (5) Selfreliance
in critical technologies. These five areas are closely inter-related and if
progressed in a coordinated way, will lead to food, economic and national security. The
major mission is the development of infrastructure for bringing rural prosperity are
through Provision of Urban Amenities in Rural Areas (PURA) through creation of three
connectivities namely physical, electronic, knowledge leading to economic connectivity.
The number of PURA for the whole country is estimated to be 7000. Educational
institutions can participate in evolving road map for developme nt of PURAs in their
region. I have come across such example: in Periyar PURA at Vallam in Tamil Nadu,
where students and teachers of Periyar Maniammai College of Engineering and
Technology are working in the planning and development of a cluster of sixty five
villages involving one lakh population. In order to achieve Vision 2020 from the present
ambiance, we need a measurement tool, which can guide us in our growth path. Since we
are looking for inclusive growth for our one billion people, we need a comprehensive
measure of our growth in terms of the National Prosperity Index. Let me now describe
the National Prosperity Index.
National Prosperity Index
While we are happy that our economy is in the ascent phase and our GDP is growing at
nearly 9% per annum, it is evident that economic growth is not fully reflected in the
quality of life of a large number of people, particularly in rural areas and even in urban
areas. Hence, we have evolved what is called a “National Prosperity Index (NPI)” which
is a summation of (a) Annual growth rate of GDP; plus (b) improvement in quality of life
of the people, particularly those living below the poverty line plus (c) the adoption of a
value system derived from our civilizational heritage in every walk of life which is
unique to India. That is NPI=a+b+c. Particularly, ‘b’ is a function of availability of
housing, good water, nutrition, proper sanitation, quality education, quality healthcare
and employment potential. ‘c’ is a function of promoting the joint family system, creation
of a spirit of working together, leading a righteous way of life, removing social
inequities, and above all promoting a conflict free, harmonious society. This will be
indicated by peace in families and communities, reduction in corruption index, reduction
in court cases, elimination of violence against children and women and communal
tensions. There should also be progressive reduction in the number of people living
below the poverty line leading to its becoming near zero by 2020. All our efforts in
improving the national economic performance should be guided by the measured
National Prosperity Index of the nation at any point of time.
Now, I would like to discuss with you the linkage between national economic
development and creative leadership:
- A nation’s Economic development is powered by competitiveness.
- Competitiveness is powered by knowledge power.
- Knowledge power is powered by Technology and innovation.
- Technology and innovation is powered by resource investment.
- Resource investment is powered by revenue and return on Investment.
- Revenue is powered by Volume and repeat sales through customer loyalty.
- Customer loyalty is powered by Quality and value of products.
- Quality and value of products is powered by Employee Productivity and innovation.
- Employee Productivity is powered by Employee Loyalty, employee satisfaction and
working environment.
- Working Environment is powered by management stewardship and sound project
- Management stewardship is powered by Creative leadership.
For success in all your missions you have to become creative leaders. Creative leadership
means exercising the vision to change the traditional role from the commander to the
coach, manager to mentor, from director to delegator and from one who demands respect
to one who facilitates self-respect. For a prosperous and developed India, the important
thrust will be on the generation of a number of creative leaders from our educational
institution. I am sure IIM Indore will generate many creative leaders who will make an
impact in the process of national development.
My best wishes to all the members of IIM, Indore success in their mission of promoting
creative management leadership for the billion.
May God bless you.

    - Dr. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam

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