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Roy, Director, Teachers and Graduates of the Institute, When I look at the young men and the new graduates I have a feeling which is slightly akin to envy. Perhaps envy is not the right word but I can think of no other, because I see them launching out not only on their life’s career which is an exciting business for every young man and young woman at this time of life, but launching out on it at a time of peculiar significance to this country and to them. I suppose that I am partial to India in my thinking. I cannot help it because India is in my blood and bone and everywhere and in my thoughts. But I try to think, nevertheless, objectively, in so far as one can and to see this India in the larger context of the world to-day, in the larger context of history, and looking at it in this way it seems to me that at the present moment there is no more exciting place to live in than India. Mind you, I use the word exciting. I did not use the word comfortable or any other soothing word, because India is going to be a hard place to live in. Let there be no mistake about it; there is no room for soft living in India, not much room for leisure, although leisure, occasional leisure is good. But there is any amount of room in India for living the hard, exciting, creative adventure of life. It is, therefore, that I said I rather envy the young men and young women who, having acquired a certain training, launch out on this adventure at this particular juncture of India’s history. I have no reason to complain, because people of my generation have also lived rather exciting lives and have had our full measure of adventure. We have also seen many things happening. There was a time and the time is not past when we indulged in all kinds of dreams, and it was exciting to work for those dreams and to see those dreams come true. There is no greater joy in life than to work for a great purpose and gradually to see the realisation of that purpose and so, people of my generation in India, we joined ourselves to this great purpose of freeing India. Because we allied ourselves to a mighty purpose, something of the greatness of that task fell on us also. Because the higher you act, the higher you think, the nobler your enterprise, something of that nobility comes to you. If you indulge in small activities, in small thinking then you remain small. But if you dare and go in for the really big things of life then, even in your endeavour to realise them, you become big in the process. So, I have no reason to complain of our lives because we had had adventures and even fulfilment in full measure. Nevertheless, the great part of our lives was spent not in building directly, although there was plenty of building in a sense, but rather in breaking up political and economic and other structures which had grown up and which confined India and prevented it from developing. It is true that during the last eight or nine years, we have had a chance of constructive, creative, building effort and we have taken advantage of it to the best of our ability and this process no doubt will continue. Here I stand at this place and my mind inevitably goes back to that infamous institution, for which this place became famous, not now but twenty or thirty years ago-the Hijli Detention Camp. Here in the place of that Hijli Detention Camp stands this fine monument of India today representing India’s urges, India’s future in the making. This picture seems to me symbolical of the changes that are coming to India. That where there was the Hijli Detention Camp we have the Indian Institute of Technology and seeing these young men pass by, taking their various degrees, looking at their bright faces, I felt happy and shall I say again, a little envious that I was long past my prime and I could not live this hard life of working for India, building India, creating things here-that is left to you now in this country. It is well that it
about where you are going to. There is no doubt about it. Most people. If you have been trained here in this Institute in the proper way. there are very unusual and unique features about our present endeavours to go ahead. Do not fall into that error of a narrow nationalism. in this world live that life which has not too much meaning for anybody. live. for every country it is an exciting adventure. And the moment that function goes. I did not mean that India is superior to other countries ‘and in that sense’ our task is unique. least of all to themselves. . I do not call that a function. So I am not here to offer you good advice-be good. you do not really understand or can experience the real joy of life. But. having paid a very heavy price for it and having adopted a system. some objective in life. we tend to impose ourselves upon the younger people. uncommon application to work. That is not a wise approach. we are ahead of them. We are up against far too great and tremendous problems for us to solve them by some cheap advice to each other. It is true that all your training or the training you may get here in your Institute of Technology or in any other Institute. but it is a life without much meaning to you or to anybody else. They may be interested naturally and rightly in their domestic affairs. Well. because remember that in India to-day we are attempting a task which in its own way is rather unique. most of us. good advice is often needed. I suppose. Doing something that is worthwhile and unless you have that function of doing something that is worthwhile and putting all your heart and soul into it. but which is different from the system that we endeavour to follow here. I do not blame them-that is the common lot of most of us. and rightly so. do this or that. in the applications of science and in the wealth that those applications have produced. we still are classified as an underdeveloped country in this respect. As a matter of fact every country has a unique task. will not take you very far if there is no strength of character. creativeness and the like. Every country has its good points and bad points. but ultimately the good develops in us not by the advice and the sermons that we hear but by other factors. There is always a tendency to do that. far ahead of us. In India to-day uncommon things are necessary-uncommon efforts are necessary. But it is a very common lot and do not imagine that you are doing nothing uncommon-if you do that and nothing more. therefore. your thinking. Every country has to make good through its own efforts and. strength of purpose somewhere. as we all. in making money and in spending it and so on. in this very matter which you are learning here. broadly speaking. The developed countries have gone through that process for 150/170 years or more and gradually adapted themselves more and more or more or less to these changing circumstances. of course. We tend to bully them a lot by good advice and the like. That is true. Nevertheless.should be so because no generation should impose itself upon another. Other countries are far ahead of us in many ways. of course. Some countries like the Soviet Union and others have bustled and hastened through those processes in a particular way and certainly arrived at a certain goal of technological efficiency and progress. strength of mind somewhere inside you. There are again countries in Asia which are behind us. you may live. some real function in life-not merely getting a salary and doing an odd job. The people of every country often think in that way and take pride in the fact that somehow or other they are superior to others. then you are developing along right lines and whenever difficulties face you. you will be able to overcome them. and even from the world point of view. thinking that your country is somehow superior to others. I said that India is going through a rather unique period of her existence. As we grow older. leaving it to you to develop your personality. in technology and science. The world would soon be in a bad way if there was too much imposition of one generation over other. which I am not here to criticise or to praise. some content in life. We are underdeveloped.
but are they really so important that we should lose our heads and that above all we should forget Indian unity and that we should glare and stare with bitterness at our neighbour who speaks a different language or lives in another State? Surely. Fortunately among the many lessons that it was my privilege to learn working under Gandhijithere was this lesson-not to be afraid of anything and so I am not afraid of any external thing happening to us but I shall be quite frank with you. therefore. . which break up the unity of India. Look at the world to-day. on the verge. That is the problem before us. Difficulties and obstructions coming from where? Not from anybody outside us. We saw in the last few months a tremendous to-do about this business of reorganisation of States. I do not deny that but what I said was that I have no sensation of fear from any country-and that is saying a very big thing for me-because there is plenty of fear in the world to day. I am not afraid of what any country big or small can do to India. Doubts and apprehensions arise in my mind about our own internal weaknesses and failings not things external to us. what should be a separate State and so on and so forth. They can make a difference to India. The industrial revolution is coming to India now but at the same time the atomic revolution is also coming here. They both come together and we dare not finish one and then go to the other. We have done well. then we have reverted back to some past period of history. Unfortunately one sees certain pictures of India which are distressing. Well. in India. in spite of any number of difficulties and obstructions. no doubt. At no time have I ever had the slightest sensation of fear or apprehension from any external quarters. Of course. and we are determined to make good in future. other countries can do good to India or do ill to India. here we are. we want to advance in the technological sphere and the scientific sphere rapidly. we wish to solve our problems in India. function with unity and co-operate with each other and go in the right direction. there should be some sense of proportion. Industrial revolution has come only partly to India but it has revolutionised living conditions in Europe. apart even from the mighty problems of war and peace. because politicians work in devious ways. that even in the present and even with the brief experience of the last 7/8 years one can look upon this problem with a measure of optimism. as to what part of India should be in this State or that. to tackle and people go about doing satyagraha and some kind of formal disobedience of laws or something and there is a lot of shouting that they do not want this. and not realised that we are living in this exciting period of the middle of the 20th century in India when we have not only attained our freedom and independence but we have made good in other ways too in the world and in India. do not want that. It is because of our own failings and weaknesses that we stumble and fall and sometimes are pulled back. or any other people.Now. etc. more or less. on the threshold of atomic age. to our problems. only the future in history will show how far we have succeeded. Difficulties and obstructions arising out of our own failings. thereby taking away from that co-operative and united effort which is so necessary for any big undertaking. all I can say. Apart from the political problems. if we. normally speaking. which divide up the people of India into numerous compartments. If we function rightly. in America. not from any other country. Important matters. All these are big problems for us to do. something likely to bring in changes in the world comparable or perhaps greater than those brought in by industrial revolution. I think. we have to take both at the same time. as they say. then there is nothing in the wide world that can come in our way. Nevertheless. do not help rapid advance. one country fearing another. if that is so. that is to say. And yet we want to adhere to certain methods which. Full of most tremendous and exciting problems. then we have lost all sense of India’s unity. Is that not something which can only be explained by the mentality of an infant? Are we grown-up human beings to behave in this manner and try to solve our problems in this manner? I am astonished I can understand that this kind of things may be used for other ends.
this linguistic boundary seems to me to indicate that some of us at least live in a remote past age. Well. there are so many things which separate us and the essential thing to-day in India is to bring about what I would call the emotional integration of India. everybody knows that. presented to me a spectacle of exciting adventure and as I go about this country and as I deal with the day to day problems which are often very difficult and very overwhelming.. so much shouting about a State boundary or something like it. But so long as that does not come the weaknesses are in us and not in some external adversary. it takes shape more and more under the hands of Engineers. Mind you. we cannot minimise it. Well. there is no harm in your being proud of your province. again and again. on the-map we are one. but means. gradually fade . the major thing now is to work to that end. It is obvious that if that had happened you would not see these things that are happening to-day. to the Himalayas in the north. But the time has now come when the Engineer plays an infinitely greater role than anybody else. The road. India. We want the emotional integration of the Indian people. of course. which has no relation to the present age. however right our thinking and our urge and our desire might be to achieve something. it is too small of us to get wildly excited about this province and this State. whatever our language. Politically we are one. not Bihar. In any event. instead of Madras. let us say. Administrators always had to play an important role. I say not Bengal. Engineer. scientists and the like-in fact. sometime or other. to Madras and then the road you adopt leads you. wherever you come from. not Gujerat. Ends. in Government we are one but we want something deeper than that. the method you adopt to gain a certain end is of vast importance. not Maharashtra. you have every right to be so. You won’t reach Madras. members. There was a time when administrators played the primary role in the country’s Government and development. the other provincial barriers. India. We have enough of separateness in this country. the other caste barriers. all over the world but after all you and I are most concerned with India. Something very big is happening in India. shall I say. How do we do that-what is the method or what is the means to achieve that end? Remember. Engineers. There are the communal barriers which separate. Now you are Engineers and this world to-day becomes more and more. but it is the spirit of negation. in many ways we are one. always what Gandhiji used to emphasise so much. you will get somewhere else. of your own language. the family of India whatever our State or Province. Emotional integration means this understanding coming to all our people that we are. whatever our religion. It is not that. I have had enough of these names of provinces thrust on me and people going about committing Satyagraha for this province and that province. that we tend to forget his teachings although subsequent generations will go back to them. you are partners in a tremendous and historical process or undertaking. not Madras. He taught us many things and 1 am afraid. then India becomes unassailable. are important. means are often more important than ends. I said to you. I say. of one vast family. Once that comes and come it will. of course. We can’t take the world’s burdens on our shoulders. it is this sense of excitement and adventure that fills me and that perhaps adds to my energy. whatever our Caste. It is about time that men of goodwill and good sense stood up against this provincialism that is becoming the curse and ruin of the country. unbreakable and nobody can touch India. We take India as a big enough burden for us. I should like to have that sensation of excitement and adventure. etc. the means you take. here we are in this India which. Means and ends-that was perhaps the basic lesson of Gandhiji. must be the right means. I should like you to feel that wherever you may work. these divisions of Administrator.So in this period when people talk of one world and realise that even the nation-state is no good. it is a spirit of separateness. That has not happened yet. in a sense. Undoubtedly. Obviously it is not enough for you to say that you want to travel from here. it is the spirit of being against the other.
Your Director. We want to help them. I think much less than it used to be and I have no doubt that this kind of thing will almost completely end. all kinds of demands come to us now from friendly countries. that one trains people for certain ends and then wastes them and not for a moment thinking in terms of the individual’s employment and his living. He must make good. We are building up a new India and the administrator who is completely ignorant of engineering does not help much in administering. i. he has practically been allotted to a special job elsewhere that will. or someone said something about employment of the graduates who go out of this Institute. to tell the Institute-we want this type of trained person or other so that even before the person has finished his course here. You may be good at your examination and perhaps not so good at the actual job. the dramatic aspect of what we are doing in India to-day. if you like. then there is something every wrong about the governmental apparatus or whoever is supposed to deal with this matter or the Planning Commission or whatever it is. if we are not wide-awake and careful become absolutely tragic and end in disaster. In doing the work so. That of course.away. of course. If we take all the trouble to put up this expensive Institute and train up people here and then do not utilise the services of those people. which are all the time hankering after Engineers and the like. of course. it means that our organisation has gone wrong-it has slipped somewhere. We are all in the same boat. engineering schemes of various types. so that it becomes a question really of planning and planning not later but planning in the earlier stages. As a matter of fact to-day apart from our own great needs in India and they are growing. Even now. who have some training in our community projects and it will become very difficult for us to meet these demands from our friendly countries. You will find in a country technologically developed. There is going to be no lack. many of our administrators in future will have to be Engineers and many of our Engineers might well have to be administrators because the major work of the country today deals with these vast schemes. demands for administrative personnel. If there is some difficulty. we see this and I want you to see this. because there is a . demands for people. That is right and that is bound to happen in India. If we are a little ahead of them it is up to us to help them. I came here just a little more than 4 years ago to lay the foundation of this building. either run directly by Government or indirectly as corporations. the proper course should be for our big enterprises. in India. we under-developed countries. Because that state of affairs can only be described as fantastically stupid. To some extent that does happen to day. be. To make a great effort to train people for particular types of specialised activities and then allow them to go to sea. But any how. it may be a concealed demand. you might say.. he or she must not after training merely wait for something to happen. to begin with. etc. and we do help them. but I am thinking in terms of the Nation. The fact of demand is there . He can not understand this new domain.is fantastically stupid. chiefly of Asia and partly of Africa. I think. As a matter of fact. how Engineers and Scientists play a far more important role even outside their sphere of Engineering and Science. not so obvious. I should say there are several hundreds of our technicians whom we have sent to countries in Asia and Africa but the demand gradually will run into not hundreds but thousands and I would like to send them because we want to help these countries of Asia and Africa. who is being trained. of trained people having opportunities of doing worthwhile work.e. specially. to keep in touch with such Institutes all the time. as I see it. Demands for technical personnel. A big drama is being enacted on the stage of India to-day . it is a part of the vast drama of the world which so often verges on the tragic and which may. where can he fit in and keeping track of that and then the next step is easier. some job to come his way and go on applying from pillar to post when actually there is so much work to be done. as an apprentice.
So rely on yourself.great deal of drama in it. of course. Individuals. Thank you. Consequently. Then you get something in you which makes you bigger and as I said at the beginning-those who are engaged. I am not a neurotic-whatever else I may be. in big undertakings imbibe something of the bigness of the undertakings and grow bigger. but as people become to-day-many of them all kinds of neurotics-who are being produced in our modern world in spite of all the progress made. think of this your work. this building up of this ancient country. in the right spirit. and then see yourself as partners in this vast undertaking. it is given to all of you to grow bigger and bigger because the job we have to do and I and all have to do is a tremendous job and if we put ourselves into it in the right way. . It is not a person of function who becomes neurotic. are something more than individuals and in doing your little bit you are sharing in this great work. you will be purposeless and you will become. does not matter how much money you may earn-you will be unhappy. not you. then we shall find that real function in life which means so much to the individual and without which it does not-matter what you do. in this big way and grow big with it. I am full of functions.
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