Friday, September 5, 2003, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi


M A I N   N E W S

Kalam calls for second Green Revolution
Mesmerises farmers, school kids, PAU students
Amarjit Thind
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 4
President A. P. J. Abdul Kalam today exhorted the farmers of Punjab to usher in a second green revolution in the country. He also urged them protect the rights of the children, especially the girl child, in view of the skewed sex ratio in the region.

On his maiden visit to this industrial hub of the state, he was addressing an impressive turnout of farmers and students at the Punjab Agricultural University here this noon. He struck an instant rapport with the audience which had been patiently waiting in the sweltering heat to listen to and have a glimpse of the missile man.

A large section of the audience comprised schoolchildren and students who listened with rapt attention and gave him a standing ovation at the end of his address.

Speaking about his vision and quest for a developed India, Dr Kalam set out a road map for eradicating illiteracy, poverty, disease and drug abuse, which are impeding the progress of the country. He called for a ‘mega mission’ which would require physical connectivity by providing roads in rural areas, electronic connectivity through reliable network and knowledge connectivity by establishing more professional institutions and vocational training centres. An amalgam of these would nurture economic connectivity, he added.

Commenting on the agriculture scenario in the country, Dr Kalam recalled the days when starvation was prevalent. “I was nine when I heard about the first consignment of American wheat reaching the country. This was taken up as a challenge by the country. The Punjabi farmers rose to the occasion and within years filled the granaries of the country, thereby making the country self-reliant in foodgrains. That was no mean achievement at that time,” he pointed out, adding, “It was the result of back-breaking labour of the hardy Punjabi farmer.”

This time, the need was not only to keep up the current yield levels but also bring down the production costs. He lauded the role played by PAU in promoting technology-based agriculture and helping the nation achieve food security.

Dr Kalam stressed the need to take the GDP from current 6 per cent to 10 per cent.

Condemning gender bias, alcoholism and drug addiction, he advocated dedication to produce good citizens in the country as well as to develop rural India.

He also administered an oath highlighting these points to the audience to galvanise them towards a commitment to the development of the nation.

In his address, the Governor of Punjab and Chancellor of the university, Justice O.P. Verma, said despite having only 5 million hectares of agricultural land, Punjab had contributed immensely to the country’s total foodgrain production. He elaborated that Punjab provided 14 per cent of foodgrains to the country, 10 per cent milk, 25 per cent honey and 20 per cent mushrooms.

However, he lamented that income from agriculture had declined in the past few years due to the shrinking of landholdings, deterioration of soil quality, decline of watertable and wheat-paddy rotation. Diversification of crops could mitigate these problems.

The Chief Minister of Punjab, Capt Amarinder Singh, appreciated the role played by the people of Punjab in making the country self-sufficient and contributing to the unity of the nation. But he felt that there was discrimination regarding the minimum support price (MSP) against Punjabis and hoped that the President would help on this issue.

Dr Kirpal Singh Aulakh, VC, introduced the missile man of India and discussed his motto — strength respects strength at length.

The vote of thanks was proposed by Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, Minister of Agriculture.

A momento was presented to the President on behalf of PAU by the Governor and the CM.

The president of the Punjab Kisan Club, Mr Baldev Singh Jhajj, and secretary, Mr Hardev Singh Ghanaur, presented a dastaar and a phulkari to the President.

The building of PAMETI, constructed under the NATP project, was also inaugurated by the President. He also had a short video-conferencing session with the Hyderabad branch of the same institute.

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