KARNATAKA

Kalam puts forward five-point agenda to increase GDP

President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam who inaugurated the Bangalore International Centre greeting a founder member of the centre in Bangalore on Monday. — Photo: K. Gopinathan  

Staff Reporter

BANGALORE: President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam has presented a five-point agenda for India to increase its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by 3 per cent and transform itself from a developing nation into a developed nation.

"The critical question I keep asking myself is when will India become a developed nation? When will history repeat itself so that India can become a trend-setter for other Asian countries?" he asked.

Mr. Kalam was speaking at the inauguration of the Bangalore International Centre (BIC), which is located on the Energy and Resources Institute premises at Domlur in the city on Monday. The centre is based on the lines of the India International Centre and is being developed as a hub of cultural and intellectual activity.

The President said that if India could increase its GDP by 3 per cent from the current rate of 7 per cent and keep it going for a decade, then the 260 million people living below the poverty line would have access to proper housing, employment and health care. To achieve this goal, the country should focus on areas such as agriculture production and food processing, education and health care, information and communication technology, infrastructure development and self-reliance in areas of critical development such as nuclear energy to transform itself from a developing nation to a developed nation, he said.

Agriculture produce

Although India's annual agricultural production was around 220 million tonnes, farmers were not satisfied and were encouraging their children to take up more lucrative careers in Information Technology and business administration, Mr. Kalam said. "We need to stop this by empowering farmers to earn more. The way to do that is by value addition to the produce. We need to develop this skill."

Education and health care, particularly for women, was essential, he said.Studies have shown that when the woman of the house was educated, families were much smaller-sized.Mr. Kalam said water management was a critical area that needed focus.

"We do not have a problem of water shortage, but one of good management," he said. And the solution lay in recycling water. "It needs to be made a legal necessity," he said.

The President said there was need to transfer the technology used in green buildings such as BIC to housing for the poor. Under the Bharat Nirman scheme, thousands of houses were built every year, 30 per cent of which were allotted to poor people who did not have houses."The big question is: how do we take energy-conscious and environmentally-conscious buildings to the common man?"

Mr. Kalam invited the audience to put forward their questions. To a query on the role of scientists in achieving the goal, he said all areas of focus for development were driven by science and technology. "Scientists are the tools by which India's development can be achieved."

Corruption

The President came up with a unique solution to stop corruption. His tool for ensuring this mission is through children. Mr. Kalam said that he took an oath from over 12,000 children aged between 15 and 17, asking them to ensure that their parents were transparent in their dealings. "We are planning to use the tool of love to ensure that adults are transparent in their activities. Will it work? I do not know. It depends. Will you listen to your children?"

Solar energy for Rashtrapati Bhavan

Illustrating the point that India needs to start relying more on non-conventional energy sources, Mr. Kalam said he had directed his staff to power the entire Rashtrapati Bhavan with solar energy. Natural resources such as oil and petrol would run out in a few decades and it was essential for India to develop cheap and sustainable non-conventional energy techniques.

"I started the project in Rashtrapathi Bhavan and am powering it entirely with solar energy. We should look to do it more," he said. Mr. Kalam said scientists needed to develop a mechanism to make solar panels more effective. At present, he said, solar panels worked work only to a capacity of 15 per cent. It would cost around Rs. 9 crores to develop a mega watt of solar energy while it costs only Rs. 5 crores to develop a mega watt of hydro-powered electricity, he said.