Former President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam on Monday suggested a three-dimensional approach involving meaningful education, religious harmony and poverty alleviation to make India a developed nation by 2020.

While imparting education along with value systems to make learners great human beings, religions must be linked through spirituality. Accepting that theologies of religions cannot be connected, Dr. Kalam explained that spirituality being common to all faiths, will serve as a binding factor. And to ensure peace that is vital for achieving the 2020 vision through an enlightened society, poverty must be alleviated, he said delivering a special address on the second of the two-day XII South Zone Jesuit Alumni / ae Congress - 2009 organised by the Federation of Jesuit Alumni/ae Associations of India at the St. Joseph’s College.

Righteousness in heart at the level of every individual is what determines beauty in character, harmony at home, orderliness in the nation, and peace in the world. Dr. Kalam reminded the audience that the virtue is developed by parents and primary school teachers.

Adverting to the theme of the Congress: ‘Towards Eco Restoration and Human Solidarity’, Dr. Kalam coined the slogan ‘billion trees by billion people’, insisting that every individual in the country must deem it a duty to grow a tree. Each teacher can influence thousands of students to transform the initiative into a movement. Dr. Kalam dwelt on the enormity of carbon emission due to use of fossil fuels, and emphasised on development of high efficient solar cells, and tapping nuclear power and bio fuel for cleaning the environment.

Describing the seven to nine per cent GDP (Gross Domestic Product) growth as an "urban phenomena", he felt that to factor in the conditions of 700 million population in six lakh villages, progress must be determined on the basis of ‘National Prosperity Index’. To arrive at this index, tangible improvements in the living conditions of 230 million population languishing below poverty line and the extent to which the country’s population encompassing 200 million families desires joint family system must be analysed along with the GDP.

The former President stressed on rural development through creation of 7000 PURAs (Providing Urban Amenities in Rural Areas) through physical and electronic connectivity, as was being done in 64 villages by the Periyar Maniammai University based at Vallam in Thanjavur district. He called for efforts to increase the population of teachers with total commitment to the profession to make the task of creating several hundreds of universities for achieving a better gross enrolment ratio in higher education a smooth process.

An alumnae, Dr. Kalam recalled his student days from 1951 to 54 and showered encomiums on his teachers, especially Rev. Fr. Sequeira, English teacher and Warden and Rev.Fr. Chinnadurai, teacher of Nuclear Physics, for showering parental affection and developing in the minds of the students a broad perspective of the subjects and human values. The College Rector Rev. Fr. P. Susai, Secretary Rev. Fr. S. John Britto, and Principal Rev. Fr. R. Rajarathinam, took part.