Prime Minister Narendra Modi today urged the people to work together to fulfil former president A P J Abdul Kalam's dream of seeing a developed India by 2022 when it celebrates its 75th Independence Day.
"There are 125 crore people and if each one takes one step, then the country would be 125 crore steps ahead," he told a public meeting near this island, the home town of the late 'Missle Man', after inaugurating his national memorial.
Various schemes launched by central government whether it was "Stand up India or Start up India, 'Amrut' cities or smart cities or Clean India projects would go a long way in realising Kalam's dream of "developed India", he said.
In a reference to epic 'Ramayana', Modi said even a small squirrel had helped Lord Ram in constructing the 'Ramasethu' (bridge) for him to cross over to Sri Lanka.
"If people are committed like that squirrel, the country can scale great heights," Modi said addressing a gathering at Mandapam, about 15 kms from here.
He urged the youth and pilgrims visiting this holy town to include a visit to Kalam's memorial, designed and built by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) with which the former president was associated with for a long time.
Modi heaped praise on labourers involved in the construction of the memorial, saying they had not charged for the extra two hours they had put in every day.
After sweating it out from 8 AM to 5 PM, they would later take a break for one hour and put in two additional man hours.
They had refused payment for these extra two hours, saying it was their way of contributing towards the memory of Kalam, Modi said, adding this deserved a standing ovation.
The audience was immediately on its feet applauding the the labourers, architects and workers who had toiled in raising the structure.
Paying rich tributes to Kalam, whose second death anniversary was observed today, Modi said the former president continues to inspire crores of countrymen.
"People from every corner of the country come here (mostly on pilgrimage). I urge them, the tour operators and youth -- whenever you come here, add to your programme a visit to this memorial," Modi said.
The Prime Minister pointed out that Kalam loved the youths and the students very much, and it was for their benefit that Stand Up and Start Up schemes had been launched.
The Mudra bank loan scheme had been launched to provide loans for the youths without any guarantee and it had benefited over eight crore people, including one crore from Tamil Nadu, he said.
A new India and a new Tamil Nadu could be developed with the cooperation of the central and state governments, he said.
Ten cities in the state had been chosen for the smart city project and 33 towns for development under the AMRUT (Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation) scheme, he said.
The central government had allocated Rs.900 crore for the Smart City and Rs.4,700 crore for the AMRUT scheme, he said the latter would ensure availability of better power, water, sanitation and other essential infrastructure.
The Prime Minister hoped that the 'Sagar Mala' scheme, linking the coastal areas spreading through the country's 7,500 km coastal line, would bring more investments and benefit people in a big way.
Announcing the launch of deep sea fishing to Rameswaram fishermen under hte Blue Revolution scheme, for which Rs 1,500 crore had been allocated, he said it would help fishermen to get better revenue and at the same time overcome problems relating to the fishing in the Palk Strait.
The Prime Minister also flagged off a weekly train to Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh from Rameswaram.
In order to help the people worship at Ramar Sethu, the mythical bridge believed to have been built by Lord Rama, the Rameswaram-Dhanushkodi road which was destroyed in the devastating cyclone decades ago had been rebuilt.
Modi also unveiled synopsis of Green Rameswaram scheme, a pet project of late Kalam, presented by the local Vivekananda Kendra.
He recalled that it was here that Swami Vivekananda placed his first step when he returned from America in 1897.
Earlier, after inaugurating the memorial, Modi paid floral tributes to Kalam at his 'samadhi'.
Evincing keen interest in the features of the memorial, which has on display replicas of rockets and missiles on which the late scientist had worked, the Prime Minister viewed it for about 15 minutes.
It has been built at a cost of Rs 15 crore on land alloted by the Tamil Nadu government at Kalam's village Peikarambu.
On the occasion, the Prime Minister also unveiled a wooden statue of Kalam playing the 'veena'. The former president was adept at playing the musical instrument.
The memorial also has about 900 paintings and 200 rare photographs of the late scientist, who held the office of the president from 2002 to 2007.
Modi was accompanied by Tamil Nadu Governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao, Chief Minister K Palaniswami, Union ministers Pon Radhakrishnan, Nirmala Sitharaman and NDA's vice presidential nominee M Venakaiah Naidu.
The prime minister earlier unfurled the national flag at the entrance of the memorial. Later, he interacted with family members of Kalam.
Modi was seen affectionately holding the hands of Kalam's elder brother A P J Mohamed Muthumeeran Maraikaya.