(20 Dec '06)
Excerpts from President Kalam’s Address on the Occasion of the Inauguration of Amrita Setu
20 December 2006 – Amritapuri
I offer my prostrations to all of you. My great respects and reverence to Amma.
Friends, I have come here a number of times. Whenever I come here to Amritapuri, I ask myself what is so unique about the environment of Amritapuri? It may have an engineering college, it may have a spiritual setup, it may have beautiful people, but what is the unique thing? I was searching myself. I believe it is that the environment is beautiful. When an environment is beautiful, it creates beautiful minds. When beautiful minds are there, they give creativity. And the creativity leads to many, many wonders. It may be in the form of love. As reverent Amma put it just now, “That shore and this shore, both can be united through a bridge.”
It is indeed a beautiful thing to connect people. Now I am very happy to be in the Mata Amritanandamayi Math in the presence of Amma and to participate in the inauguration of Amrita Setu. I am happy to be here to inaugurate an important connectivity for the people of this region.
When I saw the Amrita Setu, my memory went back to Rameshwaram. It is said that Lord Rama ordered the construction of a bridge at Rameshwaram Dhanushkody. His vanaras [monkeys] built the bridge in time for Rama’s troops to go to Sri Lanka for waging the war against the evil Ravana, as mentioned in the Ramayana. Satellite pictures show that the remnants of a bridge still exist between Rameshwaram and Sri Lanka. I am sure that the Amrita Setu built by Amma will also go into history and enhance the economic activity of this region.
I am happy that this bridge will greatly benefit the citizens of Alappad Panchayat. For these people, crossing to the mainland has been a big problem due to the lack of a nearby bridge. For any medical emergency, a bridge like this could be a life-saving connectivity. If there is a need for large-scale evacuation due to any natural calamity, Amrita Setu Bridge will enable people to move to safer places with speed.
I tried to climb up—just now before coming here—and it was a unique experience for me. And when I was going up, Amma also was coming. So, I didn’t want to trouble her; I came down.
I have seen, in my younger days, how the Rameshwaram cyclones shattered my father, a boat builder’s, dreams. So, friends, as a boatman’s son, I can understand this bridge’s importance. So I give my reverence to Amma for giving such a beautiful thing to our people in Kerala.
Now, finally, I will say that when the people work in the seacoast, it is essential to provide a proper warning system about the sea condition and wind condition, for the safety of the people who are following a profession in and around the sea. The Amrita Setu indeed will be useful in normal times for people and material movement, and during the high wind and high sea conditions, it will facilitate the evacuation of large number of people in a short time.
When I was traveling just now towards Amritapuri, I saw a lot of people standing to greet me, at the seashore, close to sea, even beyond the sea… And I felt, I will work with Amma. One mission needed in the coastal region is the creation of a Coastal PURA.
The Coastal PURA will increase the earning capacity and enhance the quality of life of the citizens living in the region. So if you live in the village environment all around Amritapuri, the Physical Connectivity, the Electronic Connectivity and Knowledge Connectivity, Economic Connectivity will come. From the present 10,000 to 15,000 per capita income, it will increase three times; that is to about 50,000 per capita income.
So definitely Amma has a noble mission. Amma has been working on a number of societal missions in Kerala. Every time I come to Amritapuri, I have found a unique thing. What is that unique thing? That is: Give. Go on giving. And give and go on going. And in giving one gets the pleasure, happiness and anand [bliss].
And the message that people like us—the people that are sitting there watching—get: is that giving is indeed happiness. This New Year—2007—is coming. Let us decide 2007 will be the “Year of Giving.” You give. You go on giving.
Amma has given the bridge—Amrita Setu. And this bridge is nothing but one of the greatest givings—connecting the shores. That is what has happened. [We have to ask ourselves,] “How to connect this shore and that shore.”
So, friends, I want to share with you what I have learned from Amritapuri: Giving. You go on giving. You can give. It’s not only money. You can share knowledge. You can remove the pain. And you can even go to the person who is suffering. Every one of us—the rich and poor—can give. That is the message I get from Amritapuri, friends. There is no greater message than Amma’s giving to all the people of this region, and Kerala, and India, and to the world.
Friends, finally, I would like to say I congratulate the devotees, planners, architects, builders and service providers who have collectively ensured the construction of the bridge, Amrita Setu, in a record time of one year. In one year, a beautiful bridge has come. One day, I will climb on to the other end. One day, I will definitely do that. My respects and greetings to all of you. May God bless you all. Greetings.