The world is going through very turbulent times. National and international bodies are cooperating on various platforms to overcome multiple crises. In this context, a thought of former President of India, A P J Abdul Kalam, that the earth is the only livable planet in our solar system, has particular relevance. Humanity is duty-bound to protect and preserve the earth. Our society and governance systems recognise this and have become more sensitive to that fact that even small delays in action can cause unrepairable consequences.
Today, man-made forces like global warming and pollution are a threat to the planet. The combination of better governance systems and our demographic dividend — 65 per cent of its population is less than 35 years old — are key ingredients in developing India in a sustainable manner, which can also be inspiring to rest of the world. Few individuals have possessed the knowledge and wisdom to enlighten society on these lines and inspire future generations. Kalam, a Bharat Ratna, was one such person. Recalling his wisdom and adopting his values in our daily lives will be the best tribute to the noble soul, whose fifth death anniversary fell on Monday.
Kalam inspired many people to work for making India a developed nation by 2020. In his final, cautionary lecture — “Creating a Livable Planet Earth” — at the Indian Institute of Management, Shillong, on July 27, 2015, he gave a warning about the damage our quest for development has inflicted on the earth’s ecosystem. He laid down the principles for the future course of action to save nature.
It was at the Beijing Forum in China on November 2, 2012, that Kalam first spoke about how vital the idea of a livable planet earth is. Addressing the Forum, he said: “Humanity needs a great vision to forget all the conflicts and move towards a common goal of peace and prosperity for all global citizens. We visualise the birth of a world vision leading to ‘livable Planet Earth’. This vision will be greater than any other vision so far envisioned by humanity.”
The need to adhere to this vision asks us to take lessons from nature itself. Today, the technology-connected world has become a global village. We must include green measures in our daily lives. Lives are interlinked and we need to strengthen these linkages. Nature can teach tolerance and build an amicable relationship with humanity. This is a moment to introspect on this relationship. The need of the hour is also to find new opportunities for serving the society in ways hitherto not imagined. As an important stakeholder in the ecosystem, we must act towards strengthening policy initiatives such as recycling, waste management, energy efficiency, designs without pollution, paperless offices, renewable energy, effective use of natural light and ventilation, sustainability education and other such relevant activities. This is how we could follow Kalam’s vision.
In The Family and the Nation, a treatise of values for building a sustainable society, Kalam, along with Acharya Mahapragya, has shown the right path for making India a great nation.
Kalam advised politicians to show maturity and work for the sustainable development of the country. As per Article 79 of the Constitution, Parliament consists of the President and the two Houses of Parliament. Emphasising this relationship, Kalam expressed concern about frequent disruptions of Parliament many times. In his IIM Shillong lecture, he asked young professionals to come up with three innovative ideas to make Parliament more productive and vibrant. Inspired by Kalam, the Sansad Ratna and Sansad Maha Ratna awards for the best parliamentarians were instituted. I received these awards during the 15th Lok Sabha. I had several informal discussions with Kalam on the role of MPs and Parliament before the publication of his book, A Manifesto for Change.
Kalam dreamt of a developed India. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been leading the people on a journey to achieve Kalam’s dream. PM Modi’s clarion call of Atmanirbhar Bharat has given further impetus to our efforts. The identification of champion sectors, collaboration and co-option of the best international practices with a vocal campaign for local manufacturing, are among the steps taken towards making India a superpower as envisioned by Kalam. The principle of self-reliance is guiding the government’s actions in all the sectors. The 17th Lok Sabha has witnessed the dynamism of MPs and their legislative work towards nation-building.
While demitting office as the President, Kalam said that his mission in life was to connect the hearts and minds of billions of people and to give them self-confidence that “we can do it”. Karma yogi Kalam’s wisdom continues to guide us even after his death.
This article first appeared in the print edition on July 28, 2020 under the title ‘A livable planet’. The writer is Union Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs, Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises
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