Empowering Education with Entrepreneurship Goal – An inspiring speech by Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam

Former President of India Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam was at EDI, Ahmedabad on 20th June 2015 as a Chief Guest to inaugurate ‘AASHRAY ‘- a social incubator supported by EDI. On this occasion, he addressed the audience gathered & inspired them to innovate & to pursue the path of entrepreneurship.

Here’s an inspiring speech from ‘Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam’ that he delivered at EDI, Ahmedabad.

“Friends, I am delighted to be with the students and faculty of Entrepreneurship Development Institute (EDI) here in Ahmedabad. I am glad to know that the EDI will strive to promote social enterprises and technologies targeted at problems of the needy. My greetings to Director, members of the faculty, researchers and  students.


Friends, I had many discussions with students and youth from across the nation, about the development pillars of India for an economically developed nation by 2020 and highlighted how we need creative leaders to realize such a vision. I have had many fascinating discussions, ideas and action plans. Today, I am going to discuss with you on an important aspect of 21st century economic growth, which is the empowerment, and inclusion of the needy population in a sustainable manner. What could be these ideas of sustainable development for almost half of humanity? What new models of business, management and leadership would be needed? Today, we will try to address these important issues. Friends, the topic I have selected for discussion today is “Empowering Education with Entrepreneurship Goal”.

Global Challenges

Today, the challenges of the world are poverty, illiteracy, safe drinking water, clean and green energy, equitable distribution of resources, quality education with values for all, overcoming societal imbalances, curing diseases, quality healthcare for all and good living conditions.

Individual nations are working to find a solution to these challenges. However we are clearly witnessing that challenges faced by nations are not only of their making or the solutions amenable only by the individual nations. There are many international dimensions for the cause and solutions. Hence working for solutions is a collective responsibility of the global community. Also, when nations start working on the common enemies of illiteracy, poor health care etc, their tendency to focus on national, regional and global peace with better mutual trust is enabled. The global challenges take various manifestations based on the local dynamics, which are interconnected on various factors.

Let us look at the dynamics of these manifestations.

Dynamics of Global Manifestations

The world today is integrally connected through four rapid connectivities. They are environment, people, economy and ideas. We all know that global warming and climate change are no longer problems of individual nations, they are planetary problems. In the present time, a single product may be made out of components sourced from multiple continents and provide services to markets far off from their place of origin. We also saw, how the economic turbulence originating in one part of the globe shook the whole world. The world today is concerned about the growing inflationary pressures, recessions, and potential fall in growth rates, affecting valuable efforts on development.

At the same time, advances in transportation have progressively made movement of people across nations and regions more feasible. This has led to the globalization of expertise and talents which can flow seamlessly from one nation to another. This also has led to the globalization of human diseases, the most recent instance being of different kinds of flu, which rapidly spread across the globe and threatened the entire human kind.

Similarly, ideas and innovations are no longer geographically or politically confined. An invention made today somewhere takes no time to find its market thousand of miles away. The expansion of information and communication technology and the convergence of technological tools are structuring new world knowledge, where problems of one part of the world can be solved by multiple experts based at different points of the globe. Seamless flow of information and people also means that local or regional issues will invariably gain global prominence and unaddressed problems including poverty can mutate rapidly into global terrorism which we are already witnessing. This flow of ideas has also led to increasing importance of global human rights and propagation of the idea of democracy.

It is the responsibility of our generation of leaders and youth, to choose the path, which brings us together, and not the one, which pulls us apart.

Let me recall an experience.

Globalization: When I was travelling in an aircraft in USA, I was told that much of its controls where software driven and most probably developed in India. When I presented my credit card, I was told that it was being processed in the backend server located in Mauritius. When I walked into a multinational software company in Bangalore, I was fascinated to find that it truly presented a multicultural environment. A software developer from China, working under a project leader from Korea, working with a software engineer from India and a hardware architect from the US and the communication expert from Germany, were all working together to solve the banking problem in Australia.

When I see all of them working together like one family forgetting about the culture from which they came or the language they speak, I feel that the only hope for such borderless interaction to continue is to inculcate the spirit of “borderlessness” in every human activity on our planet Earth.

Based on detailed discussions in many educational institutions across the world and with many citizens in India and abroad from multiple organizations, and disciplines, I am happy to present to you the distinctive profile for the Nations of the World in 2030, as follows:

Distinctive Profile for the Nations of the World in 2030

Let me present to you these visualizations.

  1. A world of nations where the divide between rural and urban, rich and the poor, developed and developing has narrowed down.
  2. A world of nations where there is an equitable distribution and adequate access to energy and quality water.
  3. A world where core competencies of each nation are identified. Missions synergizing the core competencies of different nations lead to economic advantage and faster development for all the societies.
  4. A world of nations where all the students of all societies are imparted education with value system.
  5. A world of nations where affordable quality health care is available to all.
  6. A world of nations where the governance is responsive, transparent and corruption free.
  7. A world of nations where crimes against women and children are absent and none in the society feels alienated.
  8. A world in which every nation is able to give a clean green environment to all its citizens.
  9. A world that is prosperous, healthy, secure, devoid of terrorism, peaceful and happy and continues with a sustainable growth path.
  10. A world of nations with creative leadership who ensure effective mechanisms to resolve conflicts between nations and societies in a timely manner keeping overall peace and prosperity of the world as a goal.

Two Possible Solutions

There are two possible solutions for achieving this vision. The first solution seems to be the conventional approach, which has been followed so far across the world. It starts with working for national prosperity and peace within the local boundaries and perspectives, hoping that over a long run it would percolate into regional prosperity and peace, ultimately may lead to prosperity and peace at the global level. The collective experience across the world highlights that this solution has not yielded the desired results in the past, and with a globalizing world, its efficacy in bringing global prosperity and peace in the future is uncertain.

The second solution would be, looking from the global prosperity and peace as the overall objective of the world, thereby percolating to achieve regional prosperity and peace which will ultimately ensure the national prosperity and peace of the participating nations. It is all about making a study with reference to global context and finding, how every nation can align towards the global missions. It has also to be remembered that national missions inspire the citizens; this spirit has to be directed towards globally important missions.

How can such global collaborative models be realized? More so, how can a successful enterprise and business be drawn from such cooperative, rather than competitive platforms? Let me give you can example of such a venture between India and Russia.


Core Competencies Through Convergence

Now let me explain how India has used “hard cooperation” with other nations based on its core competence to evolve a world-class product and systems using innovation, creativity, knowledge generation, knowledge sharing, and knowledge dissemination among the scientists of two countries.

One of the significant technological breakthroughs in India in this decade is the design, development and productionization of Supersonic Cruise Missile – BRAHMOS by an Indo-Russian joint venture. On behalf of the two Governments, Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) from India and NPO Mashinostroyenia (NPOM), a Federal State Unitary Enterprise from the Russian Federation became the two shareholders of the JV with a unique ratio of 50.5% and 49.5% in 1998.

The message I would like to convey out of this programme is: It is possible for India, with core competencies in multiple fields, to work with many countries in joint venture mode bringing together multiple core competencies of partnering nations leading to successful enterprises. BrahMos is an example of technological cooperation leading to economic benefits for the partnering nation and adds value to number of institutions in both the countries. I think such a project is especially significant study for an institution such as EDI, which can delve deep in the genesis of BrahMos and discover how a multi-national enterprise of global scale and global quality can be realized in a short span of time with the convergence of core competencies of different nations.

Adding Value to Education Through Entrepreneurship

There has been a growth in our educational system and we are generating over 3 million graduates every year and over seven million plus two level candidates who are aspiring for employment. However our employment generation system is not in a position to absorb all these youth leading to increase in educated unemployed, year after year. This situation will lead to instability in the social structure. We need education that will lead to specific employment opportunities. A multi-pronged strategy is needed to make education more attractive and simultaneously create employment potential – how do we do that?

Firstly, the educational system should inculcate by adding syllabus of entrepreneurship and prepare the students right from the school and college education to get oriented towards setting up of the enterprises which will provide them creativity, freedom and ability to generate wealth. Apart from entrepreneurship, the youth should have the spirit that “we can do it”. Secondly, the banking system should provide venture capital right from every village level to the prospective entrepreneurs for undertaking new enterprises. Banks have to be proactive to support the innovative products for enabling wealth generation by young entrepreneurs. Thirdly, there is a need to identify marketable products and enhancement of purchasing power among the people. This can come through the implementation of mega programmes such as PURA, Interlinking of Rivers, Infrastructural missions, Power missions and Tourism. The universities and schools should become a facilitator for creating this entrepreneurship scheme through the support of the banking system and the marketing system. This will enhance value to the education and create the motivation for the students.

Employment Generators

Let me share with you how to generate employment. The most important sectors for sustainable national development are Agriculture, Education, Healthcare, Water and Energy. The common thread that will run across these would be the three connectivities of PURA namely physical connectivity, electronic connectivity and knowledge connectivity. These three connectivities will lead to economic connectivity. One of the ways by which the rural agriculturists could increase their earnings is by value adding to the agricultural produce by processing and manufacturing. The farmers, either individually or through their co-operatives would market processed and value added items instead of marketing the raw materials. This increase in the value-addition taking place in the rural area itself is an indicator of the society moving towards prosperity and knowledge era.

One such sustainable development system is the mission of 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 of India is estimated to be 7000 covering 600,000 villages where 800 million people live. Similarly, about 30,000 PURA Complexes would be required to convert the 3 billion rural population of the world into a vibrant economic zone and bringing Sustainable Development to rural areas. There are operational PURAs in India initiated by many educational, healthcare institutions, industry and other institutions. Government of India is already moving ahead with the implementation of PURA on the national scale across several districts of India. Now all these examples of rural development through PURA along with international experience have taken the form of a book, titled Target 3 Billion.

Employment generation through entrepreneurship

Friends, since I am in the midst of students and professors who are studying and teaching entrepreneurship, let me share some thoughts about education and entrepreneurship. A three pronged strategy is needed to make education more attractive, make it skill imparting and simultaneously create employment potential – how do we do that?

Firstly, the educational system should highlight the importance of entrepreneurship and prepare the students to get oriented towards setting up of enterprises which will provide them creativity, freedom and ability to generate wealth. Diversity of skills and perseverance in work makes an entrepreneur. It should be taught to all the students. In addition, college syllabi even for arts, science, and commerce courses should include topics and practical where such entrepreneurship is possible. Secondly, the banking system should provide venture capital right from every village level to the prospective entrepreneurs for undertaking new enterprises. When I studied the performance of major bank’s venture fund, I found a few entrepreneurs have increased their profitability many times in less than seven years generating thousands of direct jobs and tens of thousands of indirect jobs. We need a large number of such venture capital institutions who can take risk and promote entrepreneurs. EDI can bring out the success stories in the form documents highlighting venture capital funding and employment generation opportunities. Thirdly, entrepreneurs have to produce competitive products to become successful in their missions. The experts here may like to study the role of education in improving the competitiveness index rating of the country to within top ten ranks from the present below 50 situation.

Conclusion: Economic Development and Creative Leadership

In conclusion, 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 management.
  • 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 institutions. Apart from this, what is needed is the spirit among the youth that “I can do it, we can do it and the nation can do it.” Our educational institutions have to concentrate on developing the leadership traits and the confidence to perform among every youth of the nation. This quality of leadership will certainly empower the 3 billion people of the world with sustainable development as its focus.

My greetings and best wishes to all of you.

May God Bless you”.


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