Honourable Governor of Tamil Nadu, Shri R. N. Ravi Ji, Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, Shri M. K. Stalin Ji, Union Minister Shri L. Murugan Ji, Other ministers and dignitaries, Vice Chancellor of Anna University, Dr R. Velraj Ji, My young friends, their parents and teachers… अनैवरुक्कुम् वणक्कम् |
First of all, congratulations to all those who are graduating today in the Anna University’s 42nd convocation. You would have already built a future for yourselves in your minds. Therefore, today is not only a day of achievements but also of aspirations. I wish that all the dreams of our youth come true. This is also a special time for teaching staff and non-teaching support staff at Anna University. You are nation-builders who are creating the leaders of tomorrow. You would have seen many batches come and go but each batch is unique. They leave their own set of memories. I specifically wish the parents of those who are graduating today. Your sacrifices have been crucial to your child’s achievement.
Today, we are here to celebrate the achievements of our youth in the vibrant city of Chennai. In February 1897, 125 years ago, Swami Vivekananda spoke to the Madras Times. He was asked about his plan for the future of India. He said: “My faith is in the younger generation, the modern generation, out of them will come my workers. They will work out the whole problem, like lions.” Those words are still relevant. But this time, it is not only India that is looking towards its youth. The whole world is looking at India’s youth with hope. Because you are the growth engines of the country, and India is the world’s growth engine. It is a great honour. It is also a great responsibility, which I am sure you will excel in.
When speaking of faith in our youth, how can we forget Bharat Ratna, former President Dr APJ Abdul Kalam. I am sure that it is a matter of pride for everyone in the Anna University that Dr Kalam was closely associated with this university. I have heard that the room he stayed in has been converted into a memorial. May his thoughts and values inspire our youth.
You are graduating in unique times. Some would call it a time of global uncertainty. But I would call it a time of great opportunity. The COVID-19 pandemic was an unprecedented event. It was a once-in-a-century crisis that nobody had any user manual for. It tested every country. As you know, adversities reveal what we are made of. India faced the unknown confidently, thanks to its scientists, healthcare workers, professionals and common people. As a result, today, every sector in India is bursting with new life. Whether it is industry, innovation, investments or international trade, India is at the forefront. Our industry has risen to the occasion. For example, electronics manufacturing. In the last year, India was the world’s second-largest mobile phone manufacturer. Innovation is becoming a way of life. In just the last 6 years, the number of recognised start-ups increased by fifteen thousand percent! Yes, you heard that right – fifteen thousand percent. From just 470 in 2016, it is nearly seventy three thousand now! When industry and innovation do well, investments follow. Last year, India received a record FDI of over 83 billion dollars. Our start-ups too received record funding post-pandemic. Above all this, India’s position in the international trade dynamics is at its best ever. Our country recorded the highest-ever exports of goods and services. We exported food grain at a crucial time for the world. We recently signed a trade deal with U. A. E. to our West and with Australia to our East. India is becoming a vital link in global supply chains. We have the chance to make the greatest impact now, as India is converting obstacles into opportunities.
Most of you have studied in streams related to engineering or technology. In this era of tech-led disruptions, there are three important factors in your favour. The first factor is there is a taste for technology. There is a growing sense of comfort with the use of technology. Even the poorest of the poor are adapting to it. Farmers use apps to get information about markets, weather and prices. Homemakers are using technology to make their lives easier. Children are learning using technology. Small vendors are using digital payments. If you give them cash, some of them will actually tell you they prefer digital. India is the world leader in digital payments and fintech. A huge market for technological innovations is waiting for you to do your magic.
The second factor is there is trust in risk-takers. Earlier, at social occasions, it was difficult for a youngster to say he or she was an entrepreneur. People used to tell them to ‘get settled’, meaning, get a salaried job. Now, the situation is the opposite. People ask whether you have tried to start something on your own! Even if one is working in a job, it is seen as cooler to work for start-ups. The rise of risk-takers means two things for you. You can take risks on your own. Or you can build upon the opportunities created by others.
The third factor is there is temperament for reform. Earlier, there was a notion that a strong government means it should control everything and everyone. But we have changed this. A strong government does not control everything or everyone. It controls the system’s impulse to interfere. A strong government is not restrictive but is responsive. A strong government does not move into every domain. It limits itself and makes space for people’s talents. A strong government’s strength lies in its humility to accept that it cannot know or do everything. This is why you see reforms in every sphere that make greater space for the people and their freedom.
The new National Education Policy ensures greater freedom for youth to take decisions according to evolving situations. The scrapping of nearly 25,000 compliances is boosting ease of living. Removal of angel tax, removal of retrospective tax, and reduction of corporate tax – are encouraging investments and industry. The reforms in drones, space and geospatial sectors are opening up new avenues. The reforms in the infrastructure sector through PM Gati Shakti Master Plan are creating world-class infrastructure at speed and scale. There is taste for technology, trust in risk-takers and temperament for reform. All these factors are creating a platform for you where opportunities are created, sustained and grown.
The next 25 years are crucial for both you and India. It is the Amrit Kaal leading up to the 100th year of independence. We are lucky that many young people like you will build their own future as well as India’s. So, your growth is India’s growth. Your learnings are India’s learnings. Your victory is India’s victory. So, when you make your plans for yourself and your family… Remember that you are automatically making plans for India too. It is a historic opportunity that only your generation has. Take it and make the best out of it! Once again, congratulations and all the best!