Dr APJ Abdul Kalam
Journalists should interact with grass-root social reformers and bring out their core competence, dedication and experience in serving rural communities, which can become a model for our youth to follow.
I have interacted with students and people from rural areas wherever possible. I have also addressed the State Legislatures wherever possible. In my addresses, the central message has been how the State can be economically developed with high Human Development Index, and how to increase the per capita income of the State? I normally give 8 to 10 missions. These missions have been developed based on the inputs from the Planning Commission, consultation with State ministries, the core competence of the State and the rural development profile of the State which are mapped to Vision 2020 targets. I would suggest that the grass root media personnel should study these missions and contribute to the development of the corresponding States.
I am sharing this experience with you, which is very important for the media to be a partner in national missions. Government has also passed an act called the “Right to Education Act’ for providing compulsory and free education to all children between 5 to 13 years. All these programmes are very important national programmes and particularly the grass-root media should take interest, highlight the positive aspects and provide solutions to difficult aspects through nationwide consultations. This will certainly make a difference in the implementation of the programme and bring smiles to the faces of our billion people.
Providing Urban Amenities in Rural Areas (PURA) is the integrated method which will bring prosperity to rural, which envisages four connectivity: the physical connectivity of village clusters through quality roads and transport; electronic connectivity through tele-communication with high bandwidth fiber optic cables reaching the rural areas from urban cities and through internet kiosks; knowledge connectivity through education, skill training for farmers, artisans and crafts persons and entrepreneurship programmes. These three connectives will lead to economic connectivity through the establishment of enterprises with the help of banks, micro credit and marketing of products. We need to establish approximately 7,000 PURA complexes in the country encompassing over 2 lakh village panchayats.
I have a suggestion particularly to the members of the media consisting of editors, journalists, correspondents and reporters. In our country, it is essential to have research wings in academic institutions developing media personnel in reporting news, event analysis and highlights. This will enable our journalists to carry out original research on topics of national interest and provide solutions to medium and long term problems. The owners of newspapers should encourage research being carried out by experienced and young reporters for acquiring post-graduate qualifications which will improve the quality of content of the print media.
Participating media members must realize that continuous updating of knowledge in research environment is essential for all media personnel. For example, before any issue is discussed in foreign newspapers, they send it to an internal research group where data is studied, verified and factual news is generated and sent for publication. When there was a critical comment about outsourcing to India, a US journalist stayed in India and studied the issue and found out that the companies engaged in Business Process Outsourcing (BPOs) were carrying out business using imported equipment from USA and Europe. Thus, they found that the BPO industries provided an indirect market for the hardware industries of the USA and Europe. Immediately this was reported in the Indian media in a big way.
Similarly a Discovery Channel media person wanted to study India’s growth in Information Technology, Thomas Friedman came to India and stayed for a month and visited Bangalore and other places. Based on his news analysis he wrote a book titled “The World is Flat”. This book has become famous not only in India but throughout the world. Such is the power of research. I would suggest our Indian newspaper agencies should encourage research being carried out by our correspondents and journalists within India in academic research institutions, which will definitely improve the quality of our reporting and enhance the participation of journalists in national development missions.
In the present development context of the nation, I would like grassroots journalists to take up the theme of a Developed India by 2020 as their primary mission. To achieve this the journalists must become development partners in the programme of PURA, energy independence mission, celebrate every aspect of success of the nation particularly in rural areas, work towards promotion of a corruption free society, help in the creation of enlightened citizens and promote harmony in the nation.
Grassroots journalists should have a big aim of the concern of a billion people. Fortunately, India has a vision and has the youth power which is the engine that can give the thrust to the movement towards growth. Ignited minds of the youth are the most powerful resource compared to any other resource on the Earth, above the Earth and under the Earth. The Indian youth faces the twin problems of provision of quality education to a large number of people, that means in institutions of higher learning such as engineering, medical and specialized sciences. We have to ensure that a large number of seats are made available. This mission can be achieved by the public-private partnership. In this connection I have developed a system of global human resource cadre. In the 21st century, India needs large number of talented youth with higher education for the task of knowledge acquisition, knowledge imparting, knowledge creation and knowledge sharing. I am working for it. At present India has five hundred and forty million youth under the age of 25, which will continuously be growing till the year 2050.
Keeping this resource in mind, the Universities and educational systems should create two cadres of personnel a global cadre of skilled youth with specific knowledge of special skills and another global cadre of youth with higher education. These two cadres will be required not only for powering the manufacturing and services sector of India but also will be needed for fulfilling the human resource requirements of various countries. Thus, the universities will have to work towards increasing the throughput of the higher education system from the existing 6% to 20% by the year 2015, 30% by the year 2020 and 50% by the year 2040.
The other Indians who are not covered by the higher education system should all have world class skill sets in areas such as construction, carpentry, electrical systems, repair of mechanical systems, fashion design, para-legal, para-medical, accountancy, sales and marketing, software and hardware maintenance and service, software quality assurance personals etc. No Indian youth should be without either a world-class higher education or without world-class skills sets.
The second problem which the youth faces is that of the generation of employment for about 40 million people. That means our education system has to become entrepreneurial oriented, both in schools and colleges, so that we can create employment generators and not employment seekers. I have discussed these important subjects in my national address on education, employment generation and energy independence.
The real mission of the media is to be where there are sweet tears and salty tears. While tears are sweet, spread the happy messages throughout the country. While the tears are salty, critically analyze and spread the message with possible solutions. The grassroots journalists can certainly provide a positive direction for development by becoming the multiple sails of the ship.
I have always believed that the first loyalty of a media must be towards the people the nation. A media should be independent from any individual, party and organisations.
(The author is former President of India and an acclaimed scientist)