A few days ago, at the Lead India 2020:A Vision for the New Millennium programme I had a chance to see firsthand the power of our ex-President, A. P. J. Abdul Kalam to inspire.
His message is a simple one, and all the more attractive for that. A developed India by 2020, or even earlier, is not a dream, he says. It need not be a mere vision in the minds of many Indians. It is a mission we can all take up and succeed. Following the UNDP lead of putting people at the center of the development and keeping in perspective that 54% of our population is youth, Prof. N. B Sudershan Acharya integrated Dr. Kalam’s ideals, vision and mission and created a training program for the youth titled Aap Badho Desh Ko Bhadao the fundamental philosophy being Individual development leads to National Development.
Lead India 2020 Foundation, is now on the path of carrying the torch forward, focused on igniting and channelizing hidden potential in our youth. Most of the training is delivered to the students by their peers, Change Agents, who form the Lead India National Club (LINC) in their respective schools. Guided by a 10-point oath designed by Dr. Kalam, the Change Agents embrace a new way of living. Graduates of Lead India 2020 training program set high goals in life and become Change Agents to change society and environment around them. The training was first delivered to 6,000 tribal students in remote villages and then to 25,000 tribal students in the next two years. Later on mass transformation in high school students was accomplished with over 1 lakh students participating in Medak and over 2 lakh students in Karimnagar. (The above paragraphs are taken from their website.)
What is striking about the photograph I took from the dais is not the image of Dr Kalam himself- he can be recognized instantly, and the pose is now characteristic- but the look on those who are looking at him, riveted by what he is saying…The 10 point oath is a simple formula that combines a set of instructions for living that essentially nobody can argue with, and yet its simplicity appeals… Here they are (simplified even more):
- I will pursue my education or my work with dedication.
- I will work to eradicate illiteracy.
- I will work for reforestation.
- I will work towards reducing social evils.
- I will constantly endeavour to remove the pain of my suffering brethren.
- I will not support any discrimination
- I will be honest and will endeavour to make a corruption-free society.
- I will strive to become an enlightened person.
- I will be sensitive to the needs of the differently abled.
- I will celebrate the success of my country and my people with pride.
It is difficult to not be impressed. Mobilizing such large numbers is not easily done, and the admiration that these students have for Dr Kalam is genuine and moreover appears to serve genuinely to inspire. Earlier, when writing about the DST’s INSPIRE program I had said that in the end our salvation will be in numbers, and the numbers are here for the asking. There is a large number of our youth who can see that the only way forward is to lead from the front, to be the change, however clichéd that may sound. Seeing school after school send up children who had clearly overcome several hurdles, both social and personal, to come this far, the event was not just impressive, it was humbling.
This is the vanguard of LEAD India 2020, and in all likelihood, the vanguard of the new India.