Following is the text of President, Dr. A.P.J. Abdul
Kalam’s address at the Integrity India Campaign by the CII at Coimbatore, Tamil
there is righteousness in the heart,
There is beauty in the character.”
I am indeed delighted to participate in the Integrity India
Campaign programme organized by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) at
Coimbatore. I greet the organizers, industrialists, technocrats, scientists,
academicians, students and distinguished guests. I take this opportunity to
congratulate the CII for conceiving this Campaign which aims to work with the
young people of India for creating a national level mission, debate and
dialogue on the issue of transparency accountability and ethical behaviour in
all facets of our national endeavour.
I would like to discuss how in spirit of giving happiness
blossoms through certain events from various great lives. Now let me recall,
the advice of Gandhiji’s mother to her son.
"Son, in your entire life time if you can save or better someone's life,
your birth as a human being and your life is a success. You have the blessing
of the Almighty God".
This advice makes me to remember the movement pioneered by Mahatma Gandhiji
against apartheid system followed in South Africa.
Struggle gives strength and dignity
I would like to 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 sea coast 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. We were
received at the Island by Mr. Ahmed Kathrada, a South African, who was a
co-prisoner with Dr. Nelson Mandela. 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
Vision gives 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 USA.
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 Vivekanda 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 at the instance and 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 nano-technology 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.
Mother gives principle of truth
Now, I will narrate to you a story surrounding the life of a
great saint Sheikh Abdul Qadir Al-Gelani which happened about one thousand
years ago. At the age of 8, Abdul Qadir left his native place in Iraq to become
a great Darvesh (saint).
One day child Abdul Qadir heard a cow saying that what you are doing here in
the grazing fields, it is not for this that you have been created. He promptly
ran back to his house feeling utterly terrified and climbed on to the roof of
his house. From there he saw a large group of people returning from Arafat
Mountain, thousands of miles away from his place in the neighbourhood of Mecca
after performing Haj. Bewildered Abdul Qadir went to his mother and asked her
permission to make a journey to Baghdad and pursue a career in knowledge.
Mother heard the divine call and promptly gave the permission for him to go.
But, she gave him 40 gold coins which was his share he inherited from his
father. She stitched these 40 gold coins inside the lining of his coat and gave
him permission to leave. When she stepped out of the door to bid him a
farewell, she said, “Oh, my son! You are going! I have detached myself from you
for the sake of Allah knowing that I shall not see your face again until the
day of last judgement. But take one advice from mother, “My son, you always
feel the truth, speak the truth and propagate the truth even when your life is
Abdul Qadir travelled with a small caravan heading for Baghdad. During the
journey, when the caravan was passing through the tough terrains, a group of
robbers on horses suddenly attacked the caravan and started looting. None of
them however took the slightest notice of Abdul Qadir, until one of the looters
turned to him and said. “You are here poor beggar! Do you have anything with
you? Abdul Qadir replied, “I have got 40 Dinars which are stitched by my mother
in the lining of my coat underneath my armpit.” The looter smiled and thought
that Abdul Qadir was just joking. He left him alone and moved elsewhere. Then
the second looter came and asked the same thing. Abdul Qadir again repeated his
answer. The looter also didn’t believe him and left him. When their leader came
and they took this boy to their leader and said to him, “This boy looks like a
beggar but claims that he is in possession of 40 gold coins. We looted
everybody but we have not touched him because we hardly believed that he has
got gold coins with him and he is trying to fool ourselves”. Then the leader
put the same question but Abdul Qadir replied the same. Then the leader ripped
through his coat and discovered that he indeed got 40 gold coins inside the
lining of his coat.
The astonished leader asked Abdul Qadir, what prompted him to make this
confession? Abdul Qadir replied. “My mother made me promise to always be
truthful even at the cost of my life”. Here, it was a matter of only 40 Dinars.
I promised her and never betrayed her trust so I told the truth. The looters
started weeping and said, you have adhered to the advice of your great mother
but we have been betraying the trust of our parents and the covenant of our
Creator for many years. From now onwards, you would become our leader in our
repentance and they all decided to give up robbery and from that day they
became righteous persons. Here the world saw a birth of a great saint, Shiek Abdul
Qadir Al-Gilani out of truth a mother gave to her child.
From these four incidents, what message do we get? Mahatama Gandhiji gave
Ahimsa Dharma to South Africa to fight against apartheid and later he used the
same tool for attaining freedom to India from British rule; Nelson Mandela
suffered solitary confinement for 26 years in a single room for fighting
against apartheid and later when the country becomes free he forgives and gives
equal rights to his tormentors; Swami Vivekananda inspired J.N. Tata to create
an educational institution for research in material technology, which gave
birth to the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore; Sheikh Abdul Qadir
followed his mothers advice to live by the truth and grew to become a great
saintly scholar and reformer.
The spirit of our youth today has to be “Give, Give and go
on Giving”. I believe we all have to work together to spread a message that
each one of us should contribute to the upliftment of people and conditions
around us. What I can give, to make a difference in someone else’s life, indeed
gives meaning to one’s own life.
Conclusion: Righteousness and Peace
Now I would like to share with you a beautiful divine hymn
about righteousness, which is the foundation for evolution of enlightened
Where there is righteousness in the heart,
There is beauty in the character.
When there is beauty in the character,
there is harmony in the home.
When there is harmony in the home,
There is order in the nation.
When there is order in the nation,
There is peace in the world.
It is a beautiful connectivity between heart, character,
nation and the world. In a society we have to build righteousness among all its
constituents. For the society as a whole to be righteous we need creation of
righteousness in family, righteousness in education, righteousness in service,
righteousness in career, righteousness in business & industry,
righteousness in civil administration, righteousness in politics, righteousness
in government, righteousness in law and order, righteousness in justice. Let
the righteousness engulf you friends and your life will radiate with purity and
purpose. My best wishes to all the participants of Integrity India Campaign
success in their mission of developing value based leaders for promoting
prosperity, happiness and peace among the society.
May God bless you.
(Release ID :23504)