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EDITIONS
Thursday, 25 July, 2002, 11:45 GMT 12:45 UK
Abdul Kalam urges drive against poverty
India's new president, Abdul Kalam, told parliament after his inauguration that there was a need to transform the country into a developed nation and to eradicate illiteracy, poverty and unemployment.

Dr Kalam - who is a Muslim - also stressed his commitment to secularism, which he called the cornerstone of India's nationhood.

The following are excerpts from his speech as quoted by the Indian news agency PTI.

I thank the members of parliament and state legislatures for having elected me... While I assume the office of the President of Republic of India with humility, and gratefully recognizing the immense trust the people of the country and the political system have reposed in me, I promise to endeavour to fulfil the aspirations of our people.

Poverty


Today our country is facing challenges such as cross-border terrorism, certain internal conflicts and unemployment.

Abdul Kalam

Indian civilizational heritage is built on universal spirit. India always stood for friendship and extends warm hands to the whole world. We have made significant achievements in the last fifty years in food production, health sector, higher education, media and mass communication, industrial infrastructure, information technology, science and technology and defence.

Our nation is endowed with natural resources, vibrant people and traditional value system. In spite of these resources, a number of our people are below the poverty line, undernourished and lack primary education itself. Our aim is to empower them to be poverty free, healthy and literate...

A country needs to have the characteristics as defined in Thirukkural, composed over 2000 years ago... That is, the important elements that constitute a nation are: being disease free, wealth, high productivity, harmonious living and strong defence. All our efforts should be focused towards building these five elements at various levels in a coherent and in an integrated manner. I am convinced that our nation with a strong, vibrant and billion plus population can contribute to realize these elements.

Development

Today our country is facing challenges such as cross-border terrorism, certain internal conflicts and unemployment. To face these challenges, there must be a vision to ensure focused action of one billion citizens of this great country with varied capabilities. What can be that vision?


I wish to emphasize my unflinching commitment to the principle of secularism

Abdul Kalam

It can be none other than transforming India into a developed nation. Can government alone achieve this vision? Now, we need a movement in the country. This is the time to ignite the minds of the people for this movement. We will work for it. We cannot emerge as a developed nation if we do not learn to transact with speed...

This vision of developed nation needs to be achieved with parliamentary democracy, which is the core of our governance system. The basic structure of our Constitution has stood the test of time. I am confident that it will continue to be responsive to the demands of changing situations...

Secularism, security

I wish to emphasize my unflinching commitment to the principle of secularism, which is the cornerstone of our nationhood and which is the key feature of our civilisational strength. During the last year I met a number of spiritual leaders of all religions. They all echoed one message, that is, unity of minds and hearts of our people will happen and we will see the golden age of our country, very soon. I would like to endeavour to work for bringing about unity of minds among the divergent traditions of our country.

Along with speedy development aimed at elimination of poverty and unemployment, national security has to be recognized by every Indian as a national priority. Indeed, making India strong and self reliant - economically, socially and militarily - is our foremost duty to our motherland and to ourselves and to our future generations...

Empowerment

When the political leaders of the nation empower the people through visionary policies, the prosperity of the nation is certain. The medium for transformation to developed India is the empowerment at various levels with power of knowledge. A roadmap of realizing this vision of developed India is in front of us...

To create this transformation we all have to resolve ourselves to work and sweat for the national development. I would like to share the song of youth, which I normally recite with the school children, here at this juncture. I am very happy to see the children present here representing the future generation. Through them I would like to convey the song of youth to all children of our country and the people...

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

See also:

24 Jul 02 | Country profiles
14 Jun 02 | South Asia
25 Jul 02 | South Asia
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