'Ignited Minds - Unleashing the Power Within India' is a manifesto for the youth of a new India, an India which rises to its potential harnessing all its resources in an optimal way and becomes a world leader. And how would we do that? The answer is by using the power of young minds. Before we can do that, we have to awaken the young minds, 'ignite' them and let them set aside the inertia that has crept in. This is the essence of this book written by the popular scientist and later president, Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam Azad. This book carries forward the ideas of his earlier two books Wings of Fire and India 2020: A Vision for the New Millennium, written in collaboration with his friends Arun Tiwari and Y.S. Rajan respectively.
Why did Dr. Kalam felt a need to write a book which inspires the youth of India? In his own words:
I am writing this book to make my young readers hear a voice that says, 'Start moving.' Leadership must lead us to prosperity. Young Indians with constructive ideas should not have to see them wither in the long wait for approval. They have to rise above norms which are meant to keep them timid in the name of safety and to discourage entrepreneurship in the name of trade regimes, organizational order and group behaviour. As it is said, Thinking is the capital, Enterprise is the way, Hard Work is the solution.
Every nation has struggled to achieve its goals. Generations have given their best to make life better for their offspring. There is nothing mysterious or hidden about this, no alternative to effort. And yet we fail to follow the winning track. More than the problems outside-globalization, recession, inflation, insurgency, instability and so on-I am concerned about the inertia that has gripped the national psyche, the mindset of defeat. I believe that when we believe in our goals, that what we dream of can become reality, results will begin to follow. Ignited Minds is about developing that conviction in ourselves, and discarding the things that hold us back.
Throughout the book, Dr. Kalam talks about his vision to make India a developed nation by 2020. He narrates the fruitful messages he got after talking to influential industrialists, political leaders, scientists, and seers . We can find the great pride that he takes in India and its rich cultural heritage and uses them to evoke national pride and to exhort the citizens of the country to work towards a common national goal. He quotes and gives the example of works of eminent persons like Thirukkural, Rabindranath Tagore, Abraham Lincoln, J. R. D. Tata, Vikram Sarabhai, Satish Dhawan and Dr. Verghese Kurien.
Today when I write this book review, Dr. Kalam is no longer with us having left for the eternities while doing what he always loved to do - interacting with young minds. His advice is simple and to the point - Surge ahead as a developed nation or perish in perpetual poverty, subservient to a few countries which control the world politically and economically. There are no other alternatives. The book ends with these inspiring lines:
"As a young citizen of India,
armed with technology and love for my nation,
I realize, a small aim is a crime."