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Kalam's visit hailed as Nepal's pride

world Updated: Nov 18, 2008 13:59 IST

IANS
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Former Indian president APJ Abdul Kalam's maiden visit to Nepal was hailed as a matter of pride and recognition for the new Himalayan republic that gave a rapturous welcome to the renowned scientist-scholar.

Kantipur, Nepal's biggest and most influential daily, Tuesday said Kalam's two-day visit to Nepal to address the convocation of a Nepali university, when in the past he had declined an invitation by the famed Oxford University, was not only a matter of pride and recognition for Kathmandu University but the entire nation.

"His smiling face and early life of struggle alone is enough (to hearten) the doctors and engineers produced by Kathmandu University who are now wondering which way to go and where to look for employment," the daily said.

Even the Maoist-controlled state media, known to come down heavily on the Indian government, gave pride of place to Kalam's arrival and his first public address Monday when he outlined before an entranced audience the five priority areas that would transform Nepal.

Focus on agriculture and food processing, education and healthcare, information and communication technology and infrastructure and tourism development would boost Nepal's national prosperity index, Kalam said in a mesmerising address that used anecdotes from his meetings with Buddhist monks in India and Nepal, the lives and teachings of Mahatma Gandhi and Swami Vivekananda, the Bhagwad Gita and Greek philosopher Plato.

Hailing Nepal's mountains as a source of inspiration that helped him think higher and have a bigger vision, Kalam said: "We should aim high, achieve high and also uplift the people to a higher quality of life with prosperity and peace."

Finding a common thread in the G20 Summit of world leaders in Washington and Nepal's endeavour to transform itself into a federal republic, Kalam said a decision taken at the remote location of the world could impact the whole world.

"In such a connected world, I firmly believe the fastest transformation can take place if the core competence of individual nations can be brought together to the mutual benefit of the nations," he said.

The scholar also gave his methodology for evolving a happy, prosperous and peaceful society on earth. The "evolution of enlightened society", he said, would come through education with value system, religion transforming into spirituality and economic development.

Kalam offered the Maoist government of Nepal a 10-year vision for the Himalayan republic that would increase the per capita income from the present $380 to at least $2,000, bring about 100 percent literacy and provide value-added employment to all youths of Nepal. It would also reduce child and mother mortality rates and provide quality healthcare to every citizen.

The vision could be obtained, he said, by large-scale plantation of herbs and conversion of herbs to drugs, floriculture and tourism, which would also include eco-tourism, mountaineering tourism and health tourism.

The other resources were commissioning mega hydro power-plants and windmills and commissioning software, IT and electronic intensive industries.

Kalam is scheduled to meet Nepal President Ram Baran Yadav after delivering the keynote speech at the 14th convocation of Kathmandu University in Dhulikhel town.

He is also scheduled to meet students from a few schools in the capital.