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Kalam urges NRIs to set up body for disaster research

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Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, President, with Mr Sam Pitroda, Chairman, WorldTel, and Mr Jagdish Tytler, Minister for Non-Resident Indian Affairs, on the concluding day of the Third Pravasi Bharatiya Divas in Mumbai on Sunday. Paul Noronha
Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, President, with Mr Sam Pitroda, Chairman, WorldTel, and Mr Jagdish Tytler, Minister for Non-Resident Indian Affairs, on the concluding day of the Third Pravasi Bharatiya Divas in Mumbai on Sunday. Paul Noronha

Our Bureau

Mumbai, Jan. 9

AGAINST the backdrop of the tsunami tragedy, the President, Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, has urged the Indian population living abroad to launch an Overseas Indian Research Foundation to research areas such as prediction of earthquakes.

With a seed-capital of $100 million, the foundation could work in challenging areas to save the loss of life and property from catastrophes such as the tsunami, he said at the concluding session of the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas.

Prediction earthquakes is a tough research area, he said and asked the full house of non-resident Indians (NRI) gathered at the function: "Will you take up this challenge?"

Further, he suggested that the foundation identify institutions of excellence and researchers and work with them on such issues.

In a speech, punctuated with applause from the audience, the President pointed out that another challenge facing the country was to uplift the 260 million people living below the poverty line. And this can be achieved by focusing on areas such as education, healthcare, agriculture and food processing, he said. He called for development of infrastructure, a "weak point," and underlined the importance of having tele-medicine, tele-education and e-governance. These integrated methods should percolate to the rural areas, he added.

Conferring the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Awards on 15 overseas Indians, the President told the 20-million-odd overseas Indian community to enrich the countries they were living in with "sweat, knowledge and dignity, since you belong to a nation of tradition."

Striking an emotional note, he said: "We have a common umbilical connectivity with our motherland." And this cultural connectivity becomes important for a borderless India, he concluded.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated January 10, 2005)
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