MUMBAI, INDIA: Prime Minister Narendra Modi who recently outlined his vision for Digital India, his most ambitious project so far, can learn a few things from former President APJ Abdul Kalam.
First and foremost is the adequate use of technology for a larger social good.
Kalam traversed countries, crossed oceans to meet dignitaries and communicate with the student community globally, the legend made adequate use of technology to reach out to people if time did not permit him to travel.
Here are a couple of initiatives:
Facebook: Kalam's e-paper Billion Beats, in circulation since 2007, was later converted into a Facebook page on which he shared his interactions with achievers and their success stories.
Also tired of nit picking and finger pointing at corrupt officials, Kalam started the What Can I Give movement, on Facebook in 2012.
The goal of the movement was to spread the message and idea of giving among the youth. It strived to help children give back to, instead of take from society through inspiring stories.
Video conferencing: VC was Kalam’s special tool to connect with his ardent followers—scientists as well as students.
As President of India and one of India’s most distinguished scientists, Kalam used the VC tool to speak about the Future of Space Exploration. He also outlined various areas and applications in which space science and exploration can help contribute to greater human development at the conference which was co-organized by the Pardee Center for the Study of the Longer-Range Future and the Center for Space Physics, at Boston University.
Whichever the IT tool, a social message was always tied to it. Let’s take a look at some of the tools the former Prez utilized.
Igniting Minds, named after Kalam's bestseller, aimed to connect over one lakh Indian students to scientists, technocrats and leaders to make education in science more interesting. Started by Vijnana Bharti, Igniting Minds made the leaders of the Indian scientific community digitally available for interactions, one of whom was the missile man himself!
Kalam’s vision for 2020
During the 1990s, Kalam was appointed chairman of India’s Technology Information Forecasting and Assessment Council. In this position, he played a key role in leading a team of 500 experts to create a technology roadmap for India.
Known as Technology Vision 2020, the program provides the guidelines for development of the country using technology to benefit the common citizen. As India’s principal science advisor from 1999-2001, Abdul Kalam spearheaded the Providing Urban Amenities to Rural Areas (PURA) program, in which technology plays an important role in improving India’s rural areas.
During his term as President, Kalam used the influence and at the 93rd Indian Science Congress in Hyderabad, called for time bound establishment of one hundred Providing Urban Amenities in Rural Areas (PURA) cluster and its components by educational institutions.
He urged the scientists to mount intensive time bound research programs in areas like the second green revolution, seed cotton productivity, waste water treatment, hill agriculture, floriculture and horticulture, flowering of bamboo, productivity increase in rice and meat and solar power plants to speedup sustainable rural development through science and technology.