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Address and interaction with the Students during the Archbishop Benedict Mar Gregorios Award 2008 at Mar Ivanios College 21/Feb/2009 : Thiruvananthapuram
Knowledge makes you great
I deem it a great honour to receive the “Archbishop Benedict Mar Gregorios Award 2008”. My greetings to all the members assembled here. On this occasion, I recall the contribution of Archbishop Mar Gregorios to peace and welfare in the society. He was a messenger of God and worked ceaselessly for the service of mankind with compassion and love. I thank the organizers for giving this prestigious award to me during the Diamond Jubilee year of Mar Ivanios College. Since I am in the midst of Students of the college, I would like to talk on the topic “Ignited mind of the youth is most powerful resource on the earth”
My experience in Greece
Friends, let me share with you a beautiful experience when I visited Greece in April 2007. I was negotiating and climbing towards Acropolis mountain top in Athens and came across a group of 150 Greek students. They threw a spontaneous smile on me; the teachers came forward and introduced the students. They said, they were very happy to see the Indian president and that the children would like to hear from him few words. My mind at that time was thinking about the great personalities, the land of Greece had given to the world: Socrates, Plato and Aristotle. The words of Plato were ringing in my mind when I saw the young students. Plato brings out that “Our aim in founding the State was not the disproportionate happiness of any one class, but the greatest happiness of the whole”, 2400 years ago. Similarly, around the same period Tamil poet Saint Thiruvalluvar said, That is, "the important elements that constitute a nation are: being disease free; high earning capacity; high productivity; harmonious living and strong defence". We have to find how we can provide all these elements to the citizens of every nation on an equitable basis for happiness for all. With these thoughts, I made up my mind, of what to say to the students and the youth of Greece. I slowly repeated line by line, a hymn which I normally hear in Indian spiritual centers. Righteousness Where there is righteousness in the heart There is beauty in the character. When there is beauty in the character, There is harmony in the home. When there is harmony in the home.
There is an order in the nation. When there is order in the nation, There is peace in the world. When the students and the youth repeated with me, the tourists around at the Acropolis also repeated and there was all round ovation. Then I realized how people from multiple nations, young and experienced were influenced by the thought of righteousness in the heart irrespective of their nationality. You can see how the righteousness in the heart generates beauty in the character in the human beings and beauty in the character leads to harmony in the home. Harmony in the home in an integrated way generates order in the nation. Of course the order in the nation finally blossoms peace in the world. The righteousness in the heart is the starting point for great individual, great family and great nation and ultimately great planet earth. Now the question is: How do we inculcate the righteousness in the heart. In my opinion, there are three sources which can build a youth with righteousness in the heart. One is mother, second is father and the third and the most important is the teacher, particularly primary school teacher. Also to provide righteousness in the heart to the young minds, we should have an environment of great education and a spiritual way of life and spiritual environment. Friends, in the school environment, you have to acquire knowledge which will be useful to you in your later life. Knowledge consists of creativity, courage and righteousness. Creativity “Learning gives creativity Creativity leads to thinking Thinking provides knowledge Knowledge makes you great” Another component is courage, which is characterized by: COURAGE Courage to think different, Courage to invent, Courage to travel into an unexplored path, Courage to discover the impossible, Courage to combat the problems and succeed, Are the unique qualities of the youth. As a youth of my nation, I will work and work with courage to achieve success in all the missions.Combination of creativity + righteousness + courage is knowledge. How will you acquire the knowledge up to the age of seventeen? You can certainly acquire knowledge from home, good books, teachers and teaching environment and studying great minds. Let me share with you three great minds who have made important contribution to societal welfare. First let me talk about Nobel laureate Mario
Capecchi.It does not matter who you areMario Capecchi had a difficult and challenging childhood. For nearly four years, Capecchi lived with his mother in a chalet in the Italian Alps. When World War II broke out, his mother, along with other Bohemians, was sent to Dachau as a political prisoner. Anticipating her arrest by the Gestapo, she had sold all her possessions and given the money to friends to help raise her son on their farm. In the farm, he had to grow own wheat, harvest; take it to miller to be ground. Then, the money which his mother left for him ran out and at the age of four and half years, he started sometimes living in the streets, sometimes joining gangs of other homeless children, sometimes living in orphanages and most of the time hungry. He spent the last year in the city of Reggio Emelia, hospitalized for malnutrition where his mother found him on his ninth birthday after a year of searching. Within weeks, the Capecchi and his mother sailed to America to join his uncle and aunt.He started his 3rd grade schooling afresh over there and started his education, interested in sports, studied political science. But he didn’t find interesting and changed into science, became a mathematics graduate in 1961 with a double major in Physics and Chemistry. Although he really liked Physics, its elegance and simplicity, he switched to molecular biology in graduate school, on the advice of James D Watson, who advised him that he should not be bothered about small things, since such pursuits are likely to produce only small answers. His objective was to do gene targeting. The experiments started in 1980 and by 1984, Capecchi had clear success. Three years later, he applied the technology to mice. In 1989, he developed the first mice with targeted mutations. The technology created by Doctor Capecchi allows researchers to create specific gene mutations anywhere they choose in the genetic code of a mouse. By manipulating gene sequences in this way, researchers are able to mimic human disease conditions on animal subjects. What the research of Mario Capecchi means for human health is nothing short of amazing, his work with mice could lead to cures for Alzheimer’s disease or even Cancer. The innovations in genetics that Mario Capecchi achieved won him the Nobel Prize in 2007. Noble laureate Capecchi life indeed reveals: “When you wish upon a star, Makes no difference who you are” Planting of trees is the planting of ideas I would like to talk about Prof Wangari Maathai’s who has a passion for environment and bio-diversity and is contributing to the sustainable development and growth of planet Earth. Wangari Maathai Wangari Muta Maathai was born in Nyeri, Kenya (Africa) in 1940. She was the first woman in East and Central Africa to earn a doctorate degree and to become chair of the Department of Veterinary Anatomy and an associate professor. Wangari Maathai was active in the National Council of Women of Kenya and was its chairman in 1981-87, where she introduced the idea of planting trees with the people and continued to develop it into a broad-based,
grassroots organization whose main focus is the planting of trees with women groups in order to conserve the environment and improve their quality of life. Through the Green Belt Movement Noble Laureate Prof Maathai has evolved innovatively a movement with 600 community networks across Kenya and branches in 20 countries resulting in the plantation of 31 million trees. She and the Green Belt Movement have received numerous awards, most notably The 2004 Nobel Peace Prize. Prof Maathai gives a new meaning to the important act of planting a tree by extending it to the whole life, when she says, “the planting of trees is the planting of idea.” She highlights the qualities of patience, persistence and commitment in planning and realizing a future, which is what we learn when we plant trees and wait for them to yield fruits for the next generation. She believes that no matter how dark the cloud, there is always a thin, silver lining, and that is what we must look for. The silver lining will come, if not to us then to the next generation or the generation after that. And may be with that generation, the lining will no longer be thin. India values Prof Maathai’s involvement and contribution in furthering the relationship between India and Kenya and had the privilege of honouring her with the Jawaharlal Nehru Award for International Understanding for the year 2005. She concludes Nobel Lecture on December 10, 2004 like this: quote, “As I conclude I reflect on my childhood experience when I would visit a stream next to our home to fetch water for my mother. I would drink water straight from the stream… I saw thousands of tadpoles: black, energetic and wriggling through the clear water against the background of the brown earth. This is the world I inherited from my parents”. Prof. Mathaai would like all of us to preserve this inheritance. Now let me discuss about the indomitable spirit of Sister Antonio. I was reading a book called “Everyday Greatness”. I would like to share one event which is essential component of our development today. Today, what we need is a leadership with compassion. Let me narrate one experience which happened in Mexico. A riot was raging in La Mesa Prison in Mexico. Twenty five hundred prisoners were packed into a compound, which had been built for only six hundred. They angrily hurled broken bottles at the police who fired back with machine guns. Then came a startling sight. A tiny five feet two inches, sixty three year old woman, calmly got into the crowd, with outstretched hands, in a simple gesture of peace. Ignoring the shower of bullets, she stood quietly and asked every one to stop. Incredibly every one did. No one else in the world, but sister Antonia could have done this. Why did the people listen to her? All because of her decades of service to the prisoners by her choice. She sacrificed all her life for the sake of prisoners lived in the midst of murderers, thieves and drug lords all of whom she called her sons. She attended their needs round the clock, procured antibiotics, distributed eyeglasses, washed bodies for the burial and counseled the suicidal. This selfless act of love and compassion generated the respect among the prisoners to control themselves and urged them to do what she wanted them to do. What a great message for humanity? We have seen a leader with compassion is there for even prisoners, but we need leaders with
compassion for the voiceless people of millions in the world. So friends you saw, how great minds, gave problem to the problems to succeed through the instrument of knowledge and leadership. Now let me describe my visualization of the distinctive profile of India by 2020. Distinctive Profile of India by 2020 1. A Nation where the rural and urban divide has reduced to a thin line. 2. A Nation where there is an equitable distribution and adequate access to energy and quality water. 3. A Nation where agriculture, industry and service sector work together in symphony. 4. A Nation where education with value system is not denied to any meritorious candidates because of societal or economic discrimination. 5. A Nation, which is the best destination for the most talented scholars, scientists, and investors. 6. A Nation where the best of health care is available to all. 7. A Nation where the governance is responsive, transparent and corruption free. 8. A Nation where poverty has been totally eradicated, illiteracy removed and crimes against women and children are absent and none in the society feels alienated. 9. A Nation that is prosperous, healthy, secure, devoid of terrorism, peaceful and happy and continues with a sustainable growth path. 10. A Nation that is one of the best places to live in and is proud of its leadership. Integrated Action for developed India To achieve the distinctive profile of India, we have the mission of transforming India into a developed nation. We have identified five areas where India has a core competence for integrated action: (1) Agriculture and food processing (2) Education and Healthcare (3) Information and Communication Technology (4) Reliable and Quality Electric power, Surface transport and Infrastructure for all parts of the country. (5) Self-reliance in critical technologies. These five areas are closely interrelated and if progressed in a coordinated way, will lead to food, economic and national security. I am sure, all of you will have an opportunity to work on any of the pillar of development which I have discussed. You have to choose the area based on your aptitude and core-competence. The faculty members of Mar Ivanios College will definitely build the capacity of research, inquiry, creativity, innovation, ability to use high technology, moral and entrepreneurial leadership in you for contributing in national development missions. Conclusion: Mission in Life Dear friends, when I visualize the students whom you are grooming, I see in them great teachers, great principals great doctors, great engineers, great social workers, great judges, and great political leaders. Let me share with you, what are the traits needed to accomplish these goals based on my experience.
I have seen three dreams which have taken shape as vision, mission and realization. Firstly, space programme of ISRO (Indian Space Research Organisation), AGNI programme of DRDO (Defence Research and Development Organisation) and PURA (Providing Urban Amenities in Rural Areas) becoming the National Mission. Of course these three programmes succeeded in the midst of many challenges and problems. I have worked in these areas. I would like to convey to you what I have learnt from these three programmes based on my personal experience. a. Wherever there is a dream in life, that transforms into a vision and vision takes shape as many missions. b. The necessity of high level thinking to transform the Vision into Missions. c. Acquisition of knowledge from all sources. d. Working and working without boundary conditions till the realization of the mission. e. Leader absorbs the failure and takes the responsibility and gives the credit for success to his team while executing the Mission. With these words, let me greet all the members of Mar Ivanios College during their Diamond Jubilee Celebrations. My best wishes to all the members of this college success in their mission of promoting value based education among the youth of this region. May God Bless you. I would like the youth take an oath with me on this important day. Oath for the Youth 1. I will have a goal and work hard to achieve that goal. I realize that small aim is a crime. 2. I will work with integrity and succeed with integrity. 3. I will be a good citizen of the country, a good member of my family, a good member of the society, a good member of the nation and a good member of the world. 4. I will always try to save or better someone's life, without any discrimination of caste, creed, language religion or state. Wherever I am, a thought will always come to my mind. That is “What can I give?” 5. I will always protect and enhance the dignity of every human life without any bias. 6. I will always remember that “Let not my winged days, be spent in vain”. 7. I will always work for clean planet Earth and clean energy. 8. As a youth of my nation, I will work and work with courage to achieve success in all my tasks and enjoy the success of others. 9. My National Flag flies in my heart and I will bring glory to my nation.
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