Kalam on Knowledge

A billion minds of Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam

 During the last century, the world underwent a change from agriculture society, where manual labour was the critical factor, to industrial society where the management of technology, capital and labour provided the competitive advantage.   Then the information era was born, where connectivity and software products drove a part of the economy of a few nations including India.  In the 21st century, a new society is emerging where knowledge is the primary production resource instead of capital and labour, which we call as the knowledge society.  

Knowledge, efficiently utilized, can create comprehensive wealth for the nations and can improve the quality of life – in the form of better health, education, infrastructure and other social indicators.  Ability to create and maintain the knowledge infrastructure, develop knowledge workers and enhance their productivity through creation, growth and exploitation of new knowledge will be the key factors in deciding the prosperity of this Knowledge Society.  Whether a nation has arrived at the state of knowledge society is judged by the way the country effectively deals with knowledge creation and knowledge deployment in all sectors like IT, Industries, Agriculture, Health Care etc.,


 As we are crossing the information society and leading to knowledge society, irrespective of rural or urban area, distance will be shortened using information technology. In such a situation an electronic connectivity should emerge between the various State and Central Government Departments for fully committed transparent administration.  A networked database with real time updated data exchange will ensure speedy service to the people under one roof for all their government/non-government service requirement. 

Only knowledge connectivity can take development to the nooks and corners of India. The knowledge grid would have an impact on removing illiteracy, upgrading educational system at various levels. The grid is not just an inter-connection of computers but also an integration of scientific minds and their tools in a virtual environment.

Societal Transformation

The whole purpose of education in a country is to develop and enhance the potential of our human resource and progressively transform it into a Knowledge Society. Societal transformation and economic growth are interlinked. A knowledge Society enriches an Information Society through innovation. An Information Society enriches agriculture and manufacturing through value addition. The Knowledge Society will be a society producing products and services that are rich in both explicit and tacit knowledge, thus creating value added products. The real capital of this Knowledge Society will be its knowledge components. The society will be highly networked to create a knowledge intensive environment along with enabling process to efficiently create, share, use and protect knowledge.

Our education system should re-align itself at the earliest to meet the needs of present day challenges and be fully geared to participate in societal transformation through innovation, which is the key to competitiveness. It should also develop a global outlook. India has many strengths. It has to reach out and make our individuals and institution capable of succeeding in a competitive world.

Dimensions of Knowledge Society

The dimensions of a Knowledge Society are different from the industrial economy. In the knowledge economy the objective of a society changes from fulfilling the basic needs of all-round development to empowerment. Instead of going by text book, teaching will be promoted by creative, interactive self learning, formal and informal with focus on values, merit and quality. The workers instead of being skilled or semi-skilled will be knowledgeable, self-empowered and flexibly skilled and would adapt to newer technologies seamlessly. The type of work instead of being structured and hardware driven will be less structured and software driven. Management style will emphasize more on delegation rather than giving command. Impact on environment and ecology will be strikingly less compared to the industrial economy.

Knowledge Society Components

Knowledge Society has two very important components driven by societal transformation and wealth generation. Societal transformation is on in education, healthcare, agriculture and governance. These will lead to employment generation, high productivity and rural prosperity.

Wealth generation is a very important task for the nation, which has to be woven around national competencies such as Information Technology, bio-technology, space technology, weather forecasting, disaster management, tele-medicine and tele-education, technologies to produce native knowledge products, service sector and Infotainment. These technologies and management structures have to work together to generate knowledge society.

Evolution of policy and administrative procedures, changes in regulatory methods, identification of partners and most importantly creation of young and dynamic leaders are the components to be in place. In order to generate wealth, which is the second component for establishing a knowledge society, it is essential that simultaneously a citizen-centric approach to evolution of business policy, user-driven technology generation and intensified industry-lab academy linkages have also to be established in India.

The systematic process of finding, selecting, organizing, distilling and presenting information, improves an employee’s comprehension in a specific area of interest.

Knowledge management helps an organization to gain insight and understanding from its own experience. Specific knowledge management activities help focus the organization on acquiring, storing and utilizing knowledge for problem solving, dynamic learning, strategic planning and decision making. It also prevents intellectual assets from decay, adds to firm intelligence and provides increased flexibility.

Knowledge Management

Knowledge creation has two dimensions, one is explicit knowledge and the other one is implicit knowledge. Explicit knowledge comes from published books, written materials, proceedings, presentations etc., whereas the implicit knowledge is derived through the systematic observation and capturing of data from the tacit knowledge available among the individuals in the organization, through their approach to problem solving, bottle-neck removal, goals setting, interactions etc. We need a systematic mechanism to capture this knowledge to make the organization a truly learning organization, which makes use of existing knowledge efficiently.

The digital library is an important component for capturing the explicit knowledge. This has to be supplemented with implicit knowledge to the digital library system, which will eventually get transformed into a knowledge management system.

Capacity Building

Hence the modern economy will be knowledge and skill driven and not by established industries. There will be continuous innovation and enterprise. To realize this, special capacity needs to be built in education and nurtured among students. The capacities which are required to be built are research and enquiry, creativity and innovation, use of high technology, entrepreneurial and moral leadership.

Research and enquiry: The 21st century is about the management of all knowledge and information we have generated and the value addition we bring to it. We must give our students the skills with which they find a way through the sea of knowledge that we have created and continue with life long learning. Today, we have the ability, through technology, to really and truly teach ourselves to become life-long learners. This is required for sustained economic development

Creativity and innovation: The management of knowledge is beyond the capacity of a single individual. The amount of information that we have around is overwhelming. The management of knowledge therefore must move out of the realm of the individual and shift into the realm of networked groups. Students must learn how to manage knowledge collectively. As predicted by Metcalfe’s law, when the information is networked the power and utility of the information grows as squared. Information that is static does not grow. In the new digital economy information that is circulated creates innovation and contributes to national wealth.

Capacity to use high technology: Every student in our schools should learn to know how to use latest technologies for aiding their learning process. Universities should furnish themselves with adequate computing equipment, laboratory equipments, and Internet facilities and provide an environment for students to enhance their learning ability. In the midst of all of the technological innovations and revolutions we cannot think that the role of the teachers will be diminished. In fact the teacher will become even more important and the whole world of education will become teacher assisted and would help in ‘tele-porting’, the best teacher to every nook and corner of the world and propagate knowledge.


Orientation for entrepreneurship has to start right form the schools. Teachers need to teach the role of entrepreneurship on national development in the schools. During college education, the students must be exposed to business development opportunities and must be trained towards creation of new enterprises. Parents should encourage their children to take up new ventures after their education. We should cultivate a mind set that “Idea is wealth”. Government must create a facilitating environment for provision of venture capital for innovative ideas without collateral security. Universities, Engineering and Management institutions should work with banks and other funding agencies towards simplifying the procedures and working with the entrepreneurs till the project becomes self-sustaining and viable. The procedures in the Government should facilitate the spotting and recognition of new Indian talents and small entrepreneurs by creating a level playing filed for healthy competition. Citizens who can afford could turn themselves into angel investors or start venture capital organizations to fund such ventures. Big and small industries need to have a mind to encourage and partner with young entrepreneurs.

Moral leadership: Moral leadership involves two aspects. First it requires the ability to have compelling and powerful dreams or visions of human betterment. Moral leadership requires a disposition to do the right thing and influence others also to do right things.

Wherever I have been, I have seen that people definitely want to live in a prosperous India.  In the rural area when I visited primary schools, they wanted high schools, when I visited High Schools they wanted Colleges, when I visited Colleges they wanted Professional Colleges.  The right type of higher education has become an essentiality from both the students’ and parents’ points of view.

A Developed India is becoming a reality.

Education in its real sense is the pursuit of truth. It is an endless journey through knowledge and enlightenment. Such a journey opens up new vistas of development of

humanism where there is no scope nor room for pettiness, disharmony, jealousy, hatred or enmity. It transforms a human being into a wholesome whole, a noble soul and an asset to the Universe. Real education enhances the dignity of a human being and increases his or her selfrespect. If only the real sense of education could be realized by each individual, and carried forward in every field of human activity, the world will be so much a better place to live in. Education is a continuous process, empowering young citizens, thereby enriching nations and their societies.

Global Human Resources Cadre

Presently our university education system is contributing 3 million graduates and post graduates every year and the students seeking employment after completion of 10th class and 10+2 class are around 7 million per year. Thus nearly 10 million youth are injected into the employment market every year. 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. At present India has five hundred and forty million youth under the age of 25.

This will continuously be growing till the year 2050. Keeping this resource in mind, the Universities and educational systems should create two cadres of personnel: (1) a global cadre of skilled youth with specific knowledge of special skills (2) 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 and secondary school education system will have to work towards increasing the through put of the higher education system from the existing 11% 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 to name a few. No Indian youth should be without either a world class higher education or without world class skill sets. This is an important task in which all universities, academic specialists, colleges, vocational training institutions, certification agencies, banking systems and industrial enterprises can contribute in terms of assessing correct numbers, designing courses related to nation building tasks, assessing and providing infrastructural requirement, improving the quality of teachers, ensuring teachers-students ratio, complimenting the class room education with virtual class rooms through tee-education and above all ensuring that the students are able to face international competition in employable skills. Systems must be designed in such a way that no aspiring competent student should be denied quality education. The system of education must be able to maintain the required output quality. These are examples of what the Government have to do to give the enabling environment and how those who operate education systems have to give to our youth. Then, our youth can give their knowledge skills in making the nation prosperous.


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