The world is going through very turbulent times. National and international bodies are cooperating on various platforms to overcome multiple crises. In this context, a thought of former President of India, A P J Abdul Kalam, that the earth is the only liveable planet in our solar system, has particular relevance. Humanity is duty-bound to protect and preserve the earth. Our society and governance systems recognise this and have become more sensitive to that fact that even small delays in action can cause irreparable consequences.
Today, man-made forces such as global warming and pollution are a threat to the planet. The combination of better governance systems and our demographic dividend – 65 percent of its population is less than 35 years old – are key ingredients in developing India in a sustainable manner, which can also be inspiring to rest of the world. Few individuals have possessed the knowledge and wisdom to enlighten society along these lines and inspire future generations. Kalam, a Bharat Ratna – India’s highest civilian award given for exceptional service, was one such person. Recalling his wisdom and adopting his values in our daily lives will be the best tribute to the noble soul, whose fifth death anniversary fell on Monday.
Kalam inspired many people to work to make India a developed nation by 2020. In his final, cautionary lecture – Creating a Livable (sic) Planet Earth – at the Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Shillong, on July 27, 2015, he gave a warning about the damage our quest for development has inflicted on the earth’s ecosystem. He laid down the principles for the future course of action to save nature.
It was at the Beijing Forum in China on Nov 2, 2012, that Kalam first spoke about how vital the idea of a liveable planet earth is. Addressing the Forum, he said: “Humanity needs a great vision to forget all the conflicts and move towards a common goal of peace and prosperity for all global citizens. We visualise the birth of a world vision leading to ‘liveable Planet Earth’. This vision will be greater than any other vision so far envisioned by humanity.”
The need to adhere to this vision asks us to take lessons from nature itself. Today, the technology-connected world has become a global village. We must include green measures in our daily lives. Lives are interlinked and we need to strengthen these linkages. Nature can teach tolerance and build an amicable relationship with humanity. This is a moment for introspection on this relationship. The need of the hour is also to find new opportunities for serving society in ways hitherto not imagined. As an important stakeholder in the ecosystem, we must act towards strengthening policy initiatives such as recycling, waste management, energy efficiency, designs without pollution, paperless offices, renewable energy, effective use of natural light and ventilation, sustainability education and other such relevant activities. This is how we could follow Kalam’s vision.
In The Family and the Nation, a treatise of values for building a sustainable society, Kalam, along with philosopher and spiritual leader Acharya Mahapragya, has shown the right path for making India a great nation.
Kalam advised politicians to show maturity and work for the sustainable development of the country. As per Article 79 of the constitution, parliament consists of the president and the two houses of parliament. Emphasising this relationship, Kalam expressed concern about frequent disruptions of parliament many times. In his IIM Shillong lecture, he asked young professionals to come up with three innovative ideas to make parliament more productive and vibrant. Inspired by Kalam, the Sansad Ratna and Sansad Maha Ratna awards for the best parliamentarians were instituted. I received these awards during the 15th Lok Sabha (India’s lower house of parliament). Kalam dreamt of a developed India. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been leading the people on a journey to achieve Kalam’s dream.
The writer is Union Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs, Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises. INDIAN EXPRESS