Former president and scientist APJ Abdul Kalam enthralled an Indian American audience with his vision for India in the year 2020 and exhorted the expatriates "to give the knowledge and experience back to the motherland".
Addressing a gathering of about 800 people, including community leaders and students at the Hindu Temple in Flushing, he encouraged everyone to dream big, to achieve with integrity and to ignite the minds of youth of this world.
For NRIs and persons of Indian origin (PIOs), his message was clear: "We should give 100 per cent to where we live and work, while we commit to give back our knowledge and experience to our motherland also."
Kalam said since his presidential term got over last year, he has interacted with over one million people and youth to formulate his vision for India.
He listed key elements of his vision that include: a nation where the rural and urban divide is reduced to a thin line, where poverty has been eradicated, illiteracy removed and crimes against women and children are absent and none in society feels alienated, where the governance is responsive and transparent, a nation that is prosperous, healthy, secure, peaceful and happy and continues with a sustainable growth path.
To transform India into a developed nation, Kalam said he has identified five areas of the country's core competence for integrated action: agriculture and food processing, reliable and quality electric power, surface transport and infrastructure for all parts of the country, education and healthcare, information and communication technology and self-reliance in critical technologies.
The major mission, he said, is development of infrastructure for bringing rural prosperity through Provision of Urban Amenities in Rural Areas (PURA), through creation of connectivity, namely, physical, electronic, and knowledge, leading to economic connectivity.
He said it is possible to achieve the vision for India, "only if we adopt and practise the value system in a society which is derived out of our civilisational heritage". He also emphasised righteousness in the heart and the "confidence that we can (achieve)".
Kalam added: "We constitute one sixth of the global population and the transformation that we do to one sixth of the world will benefit the other population also."
After his presentation, peppered with quotes from Plato to Tamil poet Thiruvalluvar, he eloquently answered questions from some 20 students from area colleges and universities, pertinent to them. The reception for him was organised by over 30 Indian American organisations, of various hues, in the tri-state area, in a rare unity of purpose indicative of Kalam's standing and wide appeal.
Before concluding his week-long tour of the country, he also inaugurated on Wednesday the US chapter of Lead India 2020, a movement run under his supervision to transform India as a developed nation.
Earlier, Kalam addressed the Wharton India Economic Forum at Philadelphia and delivered a lecture at the University of Kentucky.