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India, Australia must build thorium based N-reactors: Dr Kalam PDF Print E-mail

© Neena Bhandari

ImageIndia and Australia should work together in building Thorium-based nuclear reactors to meet the growing energy needs, said former Indian President, Dr APJ Abdul Kalam, during his recently concluded four-day (May 17-20) visit to Sydney.

He said, “Thorium-fuelled reactors are supposed to be much safer than uranium-powered ones, use far less material (1 metric ton of thorium gets as much energy as 200 metric tons of uranium, or 3.5 million metric tons of coal), produce waste that is toxic for a shorter period of time (300 years as against uranium's tens of thousands of years), and is hard to weaponize. In fact, thorium can even feed off of toxic plutonium waste to produce energy. And because the biggest cost in nuclear power is safety, and thorium reactors can't melt down, they will eventually be much cheaper, too”.

On his first visit to Australia, hosted by the University of Sydney, Dr Kalam met leading academicians, students and members of the growing Indian community and discussed various aspects of the Indo-Australian relationship. He called upon Australians and Indians to become a part of his unique mission - “The What Can I Give movement” which will help generate great citizens with ethics and great families with value system.

Dr Kalam said, “Such an approach by the Indian community in Australia will not only promote harmonious living for the all the members of the Indian community, but also create an environment of trust and compassion among the multicultural and multi-religious people living in this country".


Speaking at a packed reception hosted by the Indian High Commissioner, Mrs Sujatha Singh, he recalled his 14-hour flight from New Delhi to Sydney, flying over the Indian Ocean and then the Pacific Ocean, which inspired him to write a poem: “….The united Oceans flashed the joint foam filled wave, A message for the people of India and Australia then it gave. Oh, Citizens of two nations, work for the mission unique, The mission of world prosperity, happiness and peace.”

From the famous Classical Greek philosopher Plato to Tamil poet Saint Thiruvalluvar and father of modern physics Albert Einstein, Dr Kalam showered words of wisdom not often heard from heads of states, past or present, amidst deafening applause from a spellbound audience.

He said, “We have to evolve a society that will respect differences and celebrate differences. For that we need to create citizens with the qualities of tolerance honesty and integrity. This would require evolution of enlightened citizens through education with value system, religions graduating into spiritual forces to bring universal brotherhood and poverty eradication by attaining economic prosperity through a national and global vision.”

Dr Kalam also apprised the gathering on the strides taken by India’s democracy in the past 64 years. “The recent May 2011 state elections have definitely proved that emphasis in Indian democracy is developmental politics. That means: the elected governments which have delivered developmental packages as promised in their election manifesto are rewarded by the electorate. The great democratic message which has been sent to the political parties in India is that, unless the elected members fulfil the promises during their tenure of five years, they will not be re-elected”.

“Another important trend noticed in 2011 election is that over 75 per cent to 80 per cent of the electorate in all the five states have exercised their franchise which has not happened anywhere in the world”, he added.

He also informed about the recent launch of PSLV C-16 which has placed three satellites into the designated orbit. RESOURCESAT-2 will add to the remote-sensing space platform not only for India but also to the global community and Youthsat is used for carrying-out experiments by young scientists of India and Russia.

Dr Kalam said. “I am sure Youthsat in future will attract young scientists from Australia and all over the world”. The third satellite is X-sat built by Nanyang Technological University of Singapore.

He urged the community to be an “Environment Giver” by each one planting and nurturing five trees, a “Care Giver” by visiting a hospital and giving happiness to the patients who are not visited by any other relative, a “Smile Giver” by pledging to make our mother happy.

In his meetings with students at Sydney’s leading universities and high achieving and economically disadvantaged high school students, Dr Kalam encouraged the youth to pursue scientific and technological research and development, emphasising that the 21st century education system has to have integrated learning process for students with five capacities inquiry, creativity, technology, entrepreneurial and moral leadership.

He shared his vision of a sustainable and prosperous India and “Empowering three billion” at a public lecture, part of the Dean's International Lecture Programme and presented by Sydney University’s Faculty of Engineering and Information Technologies, at the Seymour Centre on May 19.

Dr Kalam spoke at length about his PURA (Providing Urban amenities in Rural Areas) program with emphasis on different types of connectivity: physical connectivity through better roads, digital connectivity with improved internet access, knowledge connectivity through better education and emphasis on their integration for rapid economic growth.

“The number of PURA for the whole of India is estimated to be 7000 covering 600,000 villages where 750 million people live. Even Australia has about 45 per cent of its population living in rural areas with over Australian $40 billion output coming from the farm, especially in the form of crops and livestock. This can give rise to the unique agro output and processed livestock based PURA owned and operated by farmers of Australia” he said.

“With the changing rainfall patterns in Australia, predicting a decline in the average annual rainfall, these PURAs can also be elements to sustain the rural growth against the alteration in the weather and focus on conservation, aggressive afforestation and recycling of water which is a vital need in the modern times”, he added.

Dr Kalam was awarded the Doctor of Engineering degree (honoris causa) by the University of Sydney in recognition of his outstanding contribution beyond the expectations of the person’s particular field of endeavour which has influenced the thinking or general well-being of the wider global community. The University, which has been the first Australian University to do so, has been trying to organise the award for at least three years.

Dr Kalam, who has the distinction of receiving honorary doctorates from 36 universities from across the world said, “Each university is unique and at Sydney University integrating disciplines, for example, engineering and medicine, was a very good idea. It would lead to improved diagnostic tools”.

Audiences immediately warmed up to him throughout his visit, touched by his humility and humour. At the end of his lecture at Seymour Centre, where the over-subscribed free event left many locked out, he encouraged the audience to take an oath: “When mother is happy, home is happy. If home is happy, society is happy. If society is happy, nation is happy, Australia is happy, India is happy”.

“I feel inspired” was a common refrain as students and academicians and larger community made their way home.

Earlier, at a dinner hosted by the Indian High Commissioner at Aki’s in Woolloomoollo, Dr Kalam urged the Indian Diaspora to pen stories of their success so the youth could take a leaf or two from it and follow the path of success. 

© Copyright Neena Bhandari. All rights reserved. Republication, copying or using information from any content is expressly prohibited without the permission of the writer and the news agency through which the article is syndicated.

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