Sunday, April 21, 2013

Address to the Civil Service Officers 7th Civil Service Day

Evolution of a brand of integrity
Work with integrity and succeed with integrity
I am very happy to participate in the 7th Civil Service Day and my greetings to all of you. Friends, when I am with you on this important day, I would like to share few thoughts on the topic Evolution of a brand of integrity.
India's vision: Economically developed nation (2020)
It is said that at all the best of times, as well as at all the worst of times in India, the Civil Service of the nation, makes the nation going. When I see you all friends, I remember my unique experience in mid 1990?s on formulation of India vision 2020 strategies. I was given the task of chairing Technology Information Forecasting and Assessment Council (TIFAC). I recollect, that in the first meeting of the Council itself, we took a decision that TIFAC must evolve a plan how India can be transformed into an economically developed nation by the year 2020. At a time when the economy was growing at around 5 to 6% per annum in GDP, we had to envisage a growth rate of at least 10% per annum consistently for over 10 years for realizing the development vision of billion democratic people of multi lingual, multi religious and multi cultural characteristics. This really ignited the minds of all of us in the council. The members of TIFAC Council at that time included: Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister, Nine Secretaries to the Govt of India, Chiefs of CII ? ASSOCHAM and FICCI, Chairman of IDBI ? ICICI - IFCI, Chairman of Public Sector of Corporations and Chief Executives of number of Private Sector Institutions, Vice Chancellors of different Universities and Scientists from DST. We debated and arrived at 17 task teams with over 500 members who had consultations with over 5000 people in various sectors of the economy. Committees worked for over two years resulting in 25 reports which we presented to the then Prime Minister of India on 2 Aug 1996. This is an excellent example of how different departments and organizations worked in an integrated way with system thinking for national development.
Of course, the India 2020 vision was also discussed in the Parliament. We are just left with eight years to realize the target of India getting transformed into an economically developed nation. I am sure, each one of you will be remembered if we all work together with a single minded purpose and accomplish the goal of India transforming into an economically developed nation by 2020. It should be remembered, "A nation without a vision will perish". Dear experienced, we have just 8 more years to make our nation great.
Where are we?
I have interacted with many senior Civil Service officers during the Satellite Launch Vehicle (SLV) programme and later during the formulation and execution of the missile programme. Subsequently, I have met hundreds of civil service officers during my address to the Civil Service probationers at Lal Bahadur Shastri Academy, Mussoorie during the last ten years. Also, during my Presidency, Civil Service officers of all the batches used to come to Rashtrapati Bhavan and meet me before their final posting to their establishments and they used to take a five point oath from me related to their performance in the district. I continue to visit large number of rural areas of the nation where I suddenly find a familiar civil service officer and he or she will reminisces with me their meetings at Mussoorie or Rashtrapati Bhavan and explain their current missions. At this stage, I would like to share with you friends, a poem which I shared with the Parliamentarians during my address to both the Houses in 2005.
Where are we now, dear friends,
In the Maha Sabha that shapes as history,
The call of heart beats of Indian people,
People ask us, people ask us;

Oh! Parliamentarians, the sculptors of Mother India,
Lead us unto light, enrich our lives.
Your righteous toil is our guiding light,
If you work hard, we all can prosper.

Like King, so the people,
Nurture great thoughts, rise up in actions,
May righteous methods be your guide;
May you all prosper ever with Almighty's grace.

A.P.J. Abdul Kalam
[Extract from the Address to the Parliament 2005]

Here, I would like to share my experience with the Civil Services community in Mussoorie.
Brand of integrity
Dear friends, last year, I visited Mussoorie and interacted with the 85th foundation batch of newly inducted Civil Service officers and also addressed the Mid-Career Civil Services Officer Trainees (18 years service). I talked to the Civil Service officers about creative and innovative leadership and evolution of a better world. After the session, some unique questions were raised by the participants which highlight the opportunities and challenges in governance faced by the nations highest level of bureaucracy. I thought of sharing them with you and get your views on them.
I asked the young officers to find how they can be creative leaders who can pioneer great missions in life. After the lecture, one young lady officer got up and asked, "Dr Kalam, the bureaucracy is trained and known for maintaining status quo". In this context, how can I be creative and innovative? Another young officer said, "dear Sir, right now, at the start of our service, we are all ethically upright and resolute for integrity. We all want to work hard and make a change. But in a decade's time, inspite of our surroundings, how do I still maintain the same values with enthusiasm?" To these questions, I replied that the young officers entering into the governance have to determine a long term goal for which they will be remembered. This goal will inspire them at all times during their career and help them overcome all problems. I told them that the young bureaucrats of the nation have to remember that when they take difficult missions, there will be problem. Problem should not become our captain, we have to defeat the problem and succeed.
Another young officer asked me, "Dr. Kalam, just now you administered an oath "I work with integrity and succeed with integrity". But the political system and seniors who are corrupt, would definitely put pressure on the young bureaucrats to compromise on their ethical standards, how can we tackle this problem?" I thought about this problem which is very pertinent and practical. I responded recalling my own experience where I worked very closely with politicians and administrators including positions like Secretary - in Defence Research and Development Organisation and Scientific Advisor to the Raksha Mantri, Principal Scientific Advisor to the Govt of India. In all these positions, I was incharge of large missions with huge capital investments. I recall that at no point did any leader or administrator approached me for favours.
Then I told the young officers that they can definitely establish a brand of integrity for themselves which will be called circle of your brand to keep away all those who want make them compromise ethically. Of course, this may mean facing some problems as an individual growth. Finally the best in human being will succeed in life.
Friends, this interaction with the future bureaucracy of the nation is very relevant when we talk about innovation in governance. For innovative governance leading to clean, creative, efficient, and transparent governance, all the elements in the system have to establish a brand and a lifelong mission. How can such spirit be imparted to each member of administration, business, education, research and technology?
Governance for the billion
Friends, ultimately a good governance is identified by the way it is responsive and proactive to it?s need of the people which will help them to lead life which is morally upright, intellectually superior, socially compatible with the enriched quality of life. This is possible by the acquisition of knowledge and enriching the knowledge thereby enhancing the quality of life. What is the multiple dimension of technology, which can achieve these objectives? How to realize? I personally feel we need to evolve the Societal Grid which comprises of Knowledge Grid, Health Grid, E-governance Grid and thereby feeding the PURA Grid. Knowledge Grid will empower the Citizens, students, researchers with appropriate knowledge on democratic basis thereby ensuring the growth of the knowledge society. Health Grid will ensure the benefits of quality healthcare services reaching the needy people, thereby enhancing the quality of life and increasing the individual productivity, which will help the nation to develop faster. E-Governance Services ensures transparency in government services reaching all the people uniformly without any dilution of quantum and quality of services. If these GRIDs helps each other, and these three services will infuse the quality of services to the PURA GRID which connects the 600,000 villages, then the villages are empowered and we will have inclusive growth. Empowered villages ensure good and smart governance. Hence, the success stories which we have seen in our country, gives me the confidence that establishment of Societal GRID model is technologically possible. Innovation will rest on the business model which we evolve around these GRIDs. Such a grid will provide the wisdom to the people of the country to choose the path for guaranteed success by taking innovative steps towards the goal of transforming India into a developed nation before 2020.
In my second part of discussion, I would like to share some unique experiences which I have witnessed during my interaction with four national leaders, two cabinet secretaries and two district magistrates. My interaction with national leaders reveals the great quality that is, nation is bigger than any political parties or organizations, whereas my working with cabinet secretaries and district magistrates brings out certain "out of box thinking" towards national needs at the right time and the societal need.
Leaders have the courage to take decision
Friends, I still remember a scene during May 1996. It was 9 O?clock at night. I got a call from the then Prime Minister's House that I should meet the Prime Minister Shri PV Narasimha Rao immediately. I met him just 2 days before the announcement of General Election results. He told me "Kalam, be ready with your team for the N-Test and I am going to Tirupati. You wait for my authorization to go ahead with the test. DRDO-DAE teams must be ready for action. Of course the election result was quite different from what he anticipated. I was busy in Chandipur missile range. I got a call saying that I must meet immediately the Prime Minister designate Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayeeji with Shri Narasimha Raoji. I witnessed a unique situation. Shri Narasimha Raoji the outgoing Prime Minister - asked me to brief the details of N-programme to Shri Vajpayeeji, so that a smooth take over of such a very important programme can take place. This incident reveals the maturity and professional excellence of a patriotic statesman who believed that the nation is bigger than the political system. Of-course after taking over as Prime Minister in 1998, the first task given by Shri Vajpayeeji to me was to conduct the nuclear test at the earliest. Both these leaders had the courage to take difficult decisions boldly, even though the consequences of such a decision have great national and international significance. Friends, after all, the poem in the Parliament as I said,
Like King, so the people,
Nurture great thoughts, rise up in actions.....

reminds me of two instances, one in 1984 and the other of in 1991. I was the Director DRDL, Hyderabad. Prime Minister Indira Gandhi after sanctioning the integrated guided missile programme through her Cabinet in 1983 at a cost of less than rupees 400 crore came to DRDL to review the programme in 1984. When we were presenting the progress of the IGMDP, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi saw the world map in the conference hall. She asked us to stop the presentation and directed her attention to the world map and said, "Kalam, look at the map, look at the distance in the eastern-side of the map. When will the laboratory launch a missile which will be capable of reaching that spot (that spot was 5000 km away from Indian territory). Of course, our DRDO scientists have achieved this great target envisioned by this great statesmen Smt. Indira ji.
Subsequently, when we were progressing the missile programme and Prithvi had demonstrated successful performance, Army came up with another important requirement. Army desired to have a confirmatory test, on a land range, to validate Circular Error Probability (CEP). Our efforts to conduct the tests in our desert range could not take off due to range safety and geo-political problems. To overcome this we were looking for an uninhabited island in the Eastern coast. On the hydrographic map supplied by Navy, we saw a few islands in the Bay of Bengal off Dhamra (Orissa coast) indicating that there was some landmass. Our range team consisting of Dr. S.K. Salwan and Dr. V.K. Saraswat hired a boat from Dhamra and went in search of the island. On the map these islands were marked as 'long wheeler', 'coconut wheeler' and 'small wheeler'. The team carried a directional compass and proceeded on the journey. They lost their way and could not locate the Wheeler Island. Fortunately, they met few fishing boats and asked them for the route. The fisherman did not know about the Wheeler Island but they said there was an Island called 'Chandrachood'. They thought that this could be the Wheeler Island. They approximately gave the direction for proceeding to Chandrachood. With this help the team could reach the Chandrachood Island, which was later confirmed as Small Wheeler Island which had adequate width and length required for range operations.
For getting the island, we went through the Odisha bureaucracy and at a particular point of time, we had to seek a political decision from the Chief Minister in (1993). At that time a powerful national leader Biju Patnaik was the Chief Minister. The indications from the Chief Minister?s office were that the island cannot be parted with due to several reasons. However, an appointment was arranged for meeting the Chief Minister and put my request. When we reached his office, the file was in front of him. Chief Minister Biju Patnaik ji said, Kalam, I have decided to give all the five islands at no cost to you (DRDO), but I will sign the file of approval only when you give me a promise. Chief Minister held my hand and said, I have an invitation to visit China. I will visit only when you promise that you will make a missile that will reach China. I said, Chief Minister Sir, definitely we will work for it. I immediately informed our Defence Minister. Chief Minister signed the file and I got the island, particularly the small wheeler island. Dear Civil Service friends, you heard the poem - "Like King, so the people". The message I am giving is that, the greatness of four leaders - Vajpayee ji, Narasimha Rao ji, Indira Gandhi ji and Biju Patnaik ji. All these leaders from different political parties are visionary leaders to whom the nation is always greater than any other individual or political parties.

Now friends, I would like to share with you my experience with two high officials, both of them Cabinet Secretaries - first is C.R.Krishnaswamy Rao Sahib, and the other is Shri Prabhat Kumar.
Visionary leadership
During the guided missile programme phase in 1982-1983, Shri C R Krishnaswamy Rao Sahib was the Cabinet Secretary when I was the Director, DRDL. Before the submission of the cabinet paper of the missile programme to the cabinet, there was a pre-meeting with Shri R Venkataraman, the then Raksha Mantri, where Shri Krishnaswamy Rao Sahib and the three Vice Chiefs of the Armed Forces were present. In the high level meeting, I was called to present the missile programme study report. There was tremendous criticism from the Armed forces that, not a single missile has been successfully developed so far, and how you can sanction development and production of five missiles together. Dr. V S Arunachalam, the then SA to RM and myself explained the technical and leadership path of the programme. Still the members were not convinced. That was the time, Shri Krishnaswamy Rao Sahib made a remark which is still ringing in my mind. He said "Hon'ble Minister sir, I heard all the discussion. But I would like to convey one thing. The time has come, we have to take a decision, exploring new path with courage. We should not be mixed-up with the past. Presently, we are seeing a committed passionate leadership for the missile programme. I consider that all the missiles should be developed, simultaneously in an integrated way." Based on this remark, Raksha Mantri Shri R. Venkataraman named the programme as Integrated Guided Missile Programme. After this meeting, within two months, the programme was approved by the cabinet. I got the necessary funds, human resource and a new management structure including the funds required for establishing certain key production facilities. Two strategic missiles are in production and other projects are progressing. There are number of derivative missiles for Prithvi and Agni. The total orders to the production agency for Prithvi, Agni, Akash missiles and the BrahMos first of its kind supersonic cruise missile are valued over 93 lakh crore. Such is the power of single vision of our political and bureaucratic leadership.
Perseverant leadership: Friends, in life, many turning points take place. Some bring unique change in the transformation in the nation?s growth in a particular field. I am going to share an incident, how a revolutionary change was brought in internet usage in India. I used to attend monthly meetings of secretaries chaired by Cabinet Secretary Shri Prabhat Kumar during 1998-99. I had watched, every monthly meeting, one way or the other always a question came, why the monopoly of ISP has to be with only govt institutions and there is always a discussion on the pros and cons. One day, Shri Prabhat Kumar looked at me, Mr Kalam, I will form a team with you as a convener. Can you find a solution to the problem of ISP? I said, intensity of internet in our country is low and we need large numbers of service providers to enhance internet density. Of course, there is a national security issue due to internet communication traffic. Then Cabinet Secretary suggested, whether myself and Secretary DOT can meet and give thoughts on this issue. Both of us formed a special committee chaired by Prof M Vidyasagar, the then Director CAIR (Centre for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics). The committee kept me informed of the progress periodically. Prof Vidyasagar told me, even though, there is convergence on de-centralization of ISP, there is large difference on the data security on the internet service providers. Then, I took a decision, that Prof Vidyasagar committee will give a presentation with all the stakeholders. Of course, I invited few special participants Prof N. Balakrishnan of IISc, and Chairman Railway Board, since they were the large users of internet. I started the meeting after working hours, so that all the members can attend the meeting. I planned three hours meeting for convergence on opening-up of ISP to private sector and protection of security issues. The main objection posed by some of the participants was about security issues. The specialists mentioned that there are technologies available through which we can maintain security. For this, the proponents of security issue mentioned that you will be intruding on privacy. For this, the specialist mentioned that for a genuine user there should be nothing to be afraid of. Only those who would like to misuse the internet will have to be afraid of about intrusion of privacy.
This was debated for a substantial amount of time and finally a consensus emerged among all the participants for opening up of ISP to the private sector. I informed the recommendations of the committee to Shri Prabhat Kumar, Cabinet Secretary and he took immediate action to get Cabinet approval for opening of ISP which has enabled the country to have over 1200 active service provider today who are servicing nearly 121 million users as in December 2011 which is growing at a rate of about 20% per year. We can see, the impact of the visionary action of Sri Prabhat Kumar from this incident and Shri Prabhat Kumar would be remembered for this unique action by not only the millions of internet users, but also the 100 billion dollar IT industry which is growing at around 12% per annum. 

Now I am going to narrate about unique actions of two young civil service officers; one is Dr Santhosh Babu, and another is Dr Swarn Singh among the many civil service officers whom I have met.
Committed leadership
First I would like to give you a unique experience I had with Dr. Santhosh Babu, then MD, ELCOT & CEO, TNEGA, Government of Tamil Nadu, whom I met in 2009 when I went to participate in the inauguration of the Virtual Contact Centre and Rural Business Hub at Hosur FOSTeRA (Fostering Technologies in Rural Areas), a rural BPO conceptualized by him when he was the District Collector, Krishnagiri, Tamil Nadu, at Sanasandiram, Chennathur Panchayat, Hosur Block. Dr. Santhosh Babu and his team had enabled training and employment of youth of 10th std and above dropouts into skilled BPO workers for subsequent employment in rural BPOs that they had set up.
Apart from this contribution to Krishnagiri district, Dr. Santhosh Babu had become known in the district for reducing school dropouts. Dr. Santhosh Babu had made a unique and innovative intervention in realizing the goal of virtually near zero dropout in the district by application of technology, community partnership and detailed diagnosis of the problem. I was astonished to see the richness of data in the software developed by Dr Santhosh Babu The methodology he has used precisely brought out what is needed by the student and his family. District Administration arranged to provide those needs immediately.
For example, a girl named Nirmala, Krishnagiri district, dropped out from the school number of times in-spite of best efforts of district authorities. On detailed enquiry it was found the girl?s family needed a ration card, a house and a job for the mother. The district authorities provided a ration card, house, as a part of the Indira Awas Yojna and a government job for mother as a noon-meal worker. The child was admitted in Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya in the 6th Class. Once the Collector arranged provision of these three items, the girl started going to the school regularly.
She has now successfully completed 10th class in a craft school in Bangalore. The message was, one has to go into the details of why a child was dropping out the school. Having established the reason, we have to remove the cause and facilitate the child to revert back to the school. This action has been taken very effectively by Shri Santhosh Babu and his team leading to rapid reduction in school dropouts. This example demonstrates that a committed civil service officer with passion can definitely make a difference to societal well-being and overall happiness using technology.
Innovative leadership to combat social evil
Now, let me discuss about Dr Swaran Singh who was the Divisional Commissioner of Jalandhar, Punjab from September 2003 to August 2007. He and his wife have made use of the medium of telefilms to spread awareness about female foeticide which has become a serious societal problem in Punjab. Directed by Dr. Swaran Singh and penned by his wife, Mrs Amarjit Kaur, the film "Eh Tera Apmaan" tries to depict how the desire of a village woman to have a grandson brings misery to her family in the form of crime.
The two hour-long film gives a message against female infanticide and drug abuse by depicting how an old village woman arranges re-marriage for his son for the sake of having a grandson. The imbalance of male-female ratio in Punjab had really become a serious societal issue. For containing it, at the ground level in districts of Punjab, it was ensured that birth of a girl is celebrated by the community. All new born baby girls and their parents come together and are feted. All girls born on a particular day are given the same name by the district collector. Also, the death of a foetus through a surreptitious abortion is mourned by the community, outside a home or a clinic. There is no slogan shouting, just a peaceful dignified shok sabha that embarrasses those who have eliminated the female foetus illegally and sends out strong message to the rest of the community.
We can see, how a civil service officer has designed a holistic method including the recently promulgated law to combat a widely prevalent social evil and brought out a big change in the attitude of parents and family members about girl child in whole state. Dear friends, I am sure, similar thoughts and actions are part of your way of life.
Let me conclude with a prophetic and visionary saying of Maharishi Patanjali propounded in Yoga Sutra before 2200 years. 

"When you are inspired by some great purpose, some extraordinary project, all your thoughts break their bounds. Your mind transcends limitations, your consciousness expands in every direction, and you find yourself in a new, great and wonderful world. Dormant forces, faculties and talents come alive, and you discover yourself to be a greater person by far than you ever dreamt yourself to be."

My best wishes to all the members Civil Service success in their mission of making India a nation that is one of the best places to live in and is proud of its leadership.

May God Bless you all.

By, Dr. APJ Abdulkalam

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