Former president A.P.J. Abdul Kalam says the great challenge of transforming India can be achieved through youth which has got the power of ideas, ambition and ability.

"This resource of the youth is an important building block for transforming India into a developed nation," he said at a breakfast meeting Saturday with students of the prestigious Wharton business school, Philadelphia, America's oldest institution of its kind.

"If you have an aim in life, realise that spent time cannot be recovered," said Kalam, asserting that no youth today need to fear about the future. The former president was addressing the students at the 12th Wharton India Economic Forum (WIEF) held with the theme of "India Imagine".

The forum is designed to serve as a platform for thought-leaders, professionals and policy makers to define their perception of the global Indian and discuss the wave of new imagination that is spurring the nouveau Indian to create unprecedented opportunities.

"Hence the precious time has to be used for achieving the goal, have confidence to win, have confidence to defeat the problems and succeed and have a righteous heart; you will definitely succeed in all your missions," Kalam said.

"Success can only come to you by courageous devotion to the task lying in front of you. I can assert without fear of contradiction that the quality of the Indian mind is equal to the quality of any Teutonic, Nordic or Anglo-Saxon mind.

"What we lack is perhaps courage, what we lack is perhaps driving force, which takes one anywhere. We have, I think, developed an inferiority complex," the former president said, stressing "what is needed in India today is the destruction of that defeatist spirit.

"We need a spirit of victory, a spirit that will carry us to our rightful place under the sun, a spirit, which will recognise that we, as inheritors of a proud civilisation, are entitled to a rightful place on this planet."

He asked the students to ensure acquisition of three unique characteristics of life: "Realising the importance of present that is today; the confidence that I can do it and building righteousness in the heart."

Posing the question of what the teachers can give to the students for their growth, Kalam said: "In an integrated way it can be said, that an enlightened human being can be created by the teacher through providing two unique characteristics.

"One is building capacities among the students to inquire, to innovate, be creative, and develop the qualities of entrepreneurship and moral leadership," he said. "Second is the development of moral value system."

He had seen three dreams in India, which have taken shape as vision, mission and realisation, said Kalam, citing the space programme of ISRO (Indian Space Research Organisation), the AGNI programme of DRDO (Defence Research and Development Organisation) and PURA (Providing Urban Amenities in Rural Areas) becoming a National Mission.

"Of course these three programmes succeeded in the midst of many challenges and problems," he said, sharing his learning from these three programmes based on his personal experiences.

He summed these up as "high level thinking to transform the vision into missions, acquisition of knowledge from all sources, and working without boundary conditions till the realisation of the mission".

Above all the leader "absorbs the failure and takes the responsibility and gives the credit for success to his team while executing the mission," Kalam said.

Over the last two years WIEF has traced the Indian growth story exploring themes such as 'India's Mantra for Success' and 'Realising the Indian Dream'.


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