Focus on villages for sustainable development: Kalam

Former Indian President APJ Abdul Kalam has advised Bangladesh to focus on its villages for sustainable development.

Published : 18 Oct 2014, 02:48 PM
Updated : 18 Oct 2014, 04:31 PM

He also proposed creating markets in rural areas during his keynote speech at a programme marking the 110th anniversary of the Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCI) in Dhaka on Saturday.

Established in 1904, the MCCI is the oldest trade organisation in Bangladesh.

Kalam said it was important to extend development facilities to villages and improve connectivity. This would help nurture entrepreneurship in villages and pave way for investment there, he added.

He stated that it was a 'challenge' and urged both Bangladesh and Indian governments to face it.

The 11th president of the world's largest democracy suggested setting up schools, colleges and hospitals in rural areas and ensuring skilled teachers and telemedicine services there.

Replying to a question from former Bangladesh Bank Governor Md Farashuddin Ahmed, Kalam said by increasing connectivity in villages urban facilities could be quickly taken there.

He said the villages should be provided markets for all sorts of entrepreneurs, the communication system should be made easy and technology should be made available .

It would in turn curb the tendency of the people from rural areas to migrate to cities, the former Indian president said.

Azad put forward his concept of 'Providing Urban Amenities to Rural Areas (PURA)’ in the seminar titled 'Sustainable Development System for a Peaceful and Prosperous Global Society'.

Responding to former Information Minister Abul Kalam Azad on how to combat worldwide militancy, he said, “We have to identify why people are getting involved in terrorism."

The 'Missile Man' -- as he is known for his key role in developing India's guided missile system -- believes addressing the root cause and economic development would mitigate terrorism.

In his 42-minute speech, Azad said enhancing ability to compete was a must for economic development and knowledge was key to it.

There was no alternative to developing the technology sector to enrich knowledge, he noted.

He advised entrepreneurs to improve working environment, saying quality of products depends on the productivity of the workers. For this, he said, workers needed to be accountable and this accountability comes from job satisfaction.

According to him, a good working environment depends on the creativity of the management and all these, in turn, depend on creative leadership.

The former president also highlighted qualities of a leader.

A leader must be prudent and have eagerness to put his prudence in use, he said. A leader must have the mentality to go for new system and possess the skill to handle successes and failures.

Bangladesh-India relations

The neighbouring countries could work together in various sectors as both share the same culture and tradition, he observed.

India and Bangladesh are natural friends, he said, as they share many things from the Sundarbans, to the literary works of Rabindranath Tagore and Kazi Nazrul Islam.

He also talked about the trade relations between the two nations where Bangladesh imports 15 percent of its goods from India.

Kalam said the neighbours could work together on jute and fisheries sectors too.

He was asked what economically weak Bangladesh should do as neighbour of India, a populous and influential country.

The former Indian president said population was not a big deal.

What matters is how much wealth one has and talent, too, can be wealth, he said.

Kalam believes regional organisation SAARC has a huge potential.

He said, “SAARC represents 25 percent of world population and the region has the world's most youths.”

“There are possibilities that this region can become the most powerful if they work together,” he added.

Moreover, the purchasing power of the people of this region was most likely to increase compared to any region of the world, Kalam said.

Toufique Imrose Khalidi
Editor-in-Chief and Publisher