Since August 15, the Indian Express has been running a front-page series India Empowered. This is how the newspaper describes it: The who’s who of a changing India write about the ways to empower our nationIf there’s one engine that’s today driving a changing India, it’s empowerment. Empowerment of the individual, the family, the neighbourhood, the community – and, hence, the nationIndia Empowered series brings to you what truly matters to India and what drives us. Read what really matters to our country. Because it is your right to know. As the papers editor, Shekhar Gupta, puts it: Empowerment through intelligent and incisive information is an idea whose time has come.
In this series, I have taken abstracts from the series, followed by an essay on what India Empowered means to me.
President Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam: A new situation is emerging in India. Very rarely in history have we come across such a constellation: an ascending economic trajectory, rising foreign exchange reserves, reducing inflation rates, global recognition of technological competence, energy of 540 million youth, umbilical connectivities of 20 million people of Indian origin abroad, and the interest shown by developed countries to invest in our engineers and scientists, including in new R&D centres. Governments have been emphasising economic development by ensuring growth rates of seven-eight per cent annually, enhancing the welfare of farmers and workers and unleashing the creativity of entrepreneurs, scientists, engineers. This opportunity must be fully utilised to bridge the rural-urban divide, using knowledge as a tool.
Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh: The well-being of each of our citizens empowers everyone of us. We will empower our people by pursuing policies that will create employment opportunities and provide viable livelihood strategies. We will need to put in place effective arrangements for social insurance against old age and sickness, for the well-being and security of the aged and the disabled. That well-being, defined in economic, social, cultural, and all the other terms that define our social existence, is best ensured in the framework of an open society and an open economy The creation, the dissemination and the utilisation of knowledge is what really empowers both people and nations. India will be empowered when we can create a knowledge society and a knowledge economy within the framework of an open society and an open economy.
G Madhavan Nair, Chairman, Indian Space Research Organisation: The fact that India is capable of achieving self-reliance even in the most advanced technologies like space and, more importantly, use these capabilities for the uplift of the society at grassroots level shows that India has the potential to become an empowered nation. The recent initiatives like tele-education through EDUSAT for formal and non-formal educational services, tele-medicine network that connects speciality hospitals in major cities to rural and remote areas and the Village Resources Centres that help farmers on various aspects like land-use, water, agriculture, weather, market information, etc, can help in empowering our society at the grassroots level.
Yogendra Singh Yadav, Param Vir Chakra, Havildar, Indian Army: Let us stop pointing fingers, worrying about the deeds of others. We must seize the day, look at ourselves, attend to our own lives. Half the problems in this world are there because people and countries have failed to look at their own lives first. Culture apart, India must take advantage of its new found place in the world of technology to empower its people. If we make good use of technology, we can be a fearless people, take ourselves and the nation forward.
Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw; CMD, Biocon: An empowered nation is synonymous with national pride. Pride to me is the most powerful ethos that defines empowerment. Indias private sector, led by information technology, telecommunications, biotech, pharmaceuticals and many others is empowering the country on a platform of performance and excellence There is a noticeable change taking place in various ways where men and women are gradually building an ethos of empowerment through a deep sense of purpose, willing to overcome challenges because they want to change this country in a manner that every Indian can be proud of.
Tomorrow: Indian Express Series (continued)