This book was strongly urged upon me by the bookshop owner, normally averse to dense political writing, especially Indian, I was persuaded that this was a succinct overview of India’s plans for a "bright" future. When I opened it, I discovered some surprising truths about India today.
India 2020: A Vision for the New Millennium by Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam – Unique amongst global heads of state, The President of India, Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam, is one of India’s most distinguished scientists. According to the flyleaf, he was responsible for the development of India’s first satellite launch vehicle, the SLV-3 and various strategic missiles amongst other indigenous technologies. In addition to these achievements for which he has won numerous awards and honors, he is a muslim head of state of a largely hindu country. Hmm, I’m impressed. The previous president was an untouchable or ‘harijan’ – for all of India’s political faults, her intentions are always noble in this regard.
Written in 1998, the book is dedicated to a little schoolgirl, who, when asked by him, "What is your ambition?" answered, "I want to live in a developed India."
I found that it isn’t as dense as a policy document as I’d imagined. He quickly goes through the various scientific, technological and economic steps that India needs to implement and follow through on to achieve her ambition of being one of the world’s powerhouses in the next 15 years. And I must admit, it’s pretty inspiring – not only to have such a thinker and visionary at the helm, but also to have such a plan in place. I only wish that he’d get a better haircut. While looking for a good review online, I came across some observations by Kevin Schofield – I’ve reposted a goodly part here,
The premise of the book is simple: what would it take to convert
India from a "developing nation" to a "developed nation" in 20 years?
Kalam sets out some general principles, then walks through a number of
different topics — including technology, food, agriculture,
chemical/biological industries, manufacturing, services, and healthcare
— and discusses exactly what India needs to do in order to reach a par
with other developed nations.
Kalam establishes himself in this book as a broad thinker, and a
true Indian patriot and visionary. It’s also clear that he’s amazingly
knowledgable on a wide variety of topics. The book is written to appeal
to the Indian mass market, so most topics are explained at a fairly
rudimentary level with an assumption of almost no background; for those
with some background, it can seem a bit simplistic and tiresome, but on
the other hand that makes the book a quick read.
Why is it that India and China revere their scientists and engineers
and choose them to lead their countries, and we here in the
West stereotype ours to be goofy, propeller-headed academics with no
connection to reality? I read the never-ending discussions on Slashdot,
on Groklaw, and on Larry Lessig’s blog about patent, copyright and
other intellectual property legal issues that technology has brough to
the surface; and while I often disagree with the views expressed on
those fora, I am dismayed at the complete absence of anyone in office
in D.C.who has any depth of understanding of these issues. Whatever
happened to reason, debate, and sound judgment? What would have to
happen in order to get the smartest, best-educated people leading our
government instead of career politicians and lobbyists? If India and
China can do it, can’t we???
Articulated far better than anything I could possibly have said. And if you’ve read this far, I urge you to browse the insightful comments as well. I hope that link works, radio weblogs always confuses me a bit, newbie that I am.