Place : Surat, Date :26-02-2011
Watch - Addressing the 42nd Annual Convocation of Veer Narmad South Gujarat University (Part-1)
Her Excellency Governor and Chancellor Dr. Smt. Kamlaji, Vice Chancellor Dr. B. A. Prajapati, all members & staff of the university, distinguished guests, members of the Press and Media, and my dear students.
I am indeed happy to be present here today on this august occasion of Veer Narmad South Gujarat University’s 42nd convocation when nearly 34,000 students comprising 9 educational branches are being conferred diplomas and degrees belonging to various disciplines – Arts, Education, Science, Engineering, Medicine, Law, etc. The event comes in the backdrop of Gujarat just having completed its 50 years of independent existence last year and this is the second convocation I am addressing after the beginning of Golden Year 2010. This is a memorable occasion for all of us and personally for me to deliver this convocation address.
Friends, this South Gujarat University is a great institution visualized by educationists such as Atisukhshankar Trivedi and today it manages colleges in various disciplines imparting both undergraduate and postgraduate education. With the passing of Veer Narmad South Gujarat University Act in 1965, an historic event occurred with the university coming into existence in August of 1966 when Gujarat government appointed Shri Chandravadan Chunilal Shah as the first Vice-Chancellor and Shri Priyadatt Motiram Joshi as the first Registrar of the University. It gave a new impetus to education for districts such as Bharuch Surat, Dang and Valsad .
This day assumes immense importance to all the young girls and boys gathered here who would be venturing out into a world full of challenges known and unknown: about their job prospects; of how tough life is outside the safe precincts of a university and what the future course of action could arise in their life. Dear friends, today in your moment of triumph remember that many more such triumphal moments are yet to come as you learn to cultivate the right attitude and make progress in the globalised, integrated world. I wish all of you a bright success in your career. I congratulate all those who are getting their diplomas and degree today, my special compliments to those who are getting gold medals for their outstanding performance in the examinations.
Watch - Addressing the 42nd Annual Convocation of Veer Narmad South Gujarat University (Part-2)
I am reminded of a brilliant convocation address in the Taittiriya Upanishad, where the Guru delivers the convocation address to the students who were leaving the Gurukul and entering the world outside, the real world full of struggle and challenges. The students of the Gurukul are given key ideas on how they should live their lives dedicated to their culture consistent with what has been taught to them as the goal and way of life. In the convocation address the Guru emphasizes on the following qualities.
1. The practice of what is right and proper as indicated in the scriptures (ritam);
2. Living up to the ideals that have been intellectually comprehended during the studies (satyam);
3. A spirit of self-sacrifice and self-denial (tapas);
4. Control of the senses (dama);
5. Tranquility of the mind (sama);
6. Maintenance of a charitable and ready kitchen at home in the service of all deserving hungry fellow beings (agni);
7. Practice of concentration and ritualism through fire worship as was in vogue in the society of those days; and
8. Doing one's duty towards humanity, towards one's children and grandchildren and towards the society.
Continuing the “Convocation Address”, the teacher says: having taught the Vedas, the preceptor enjoins the pupil: “Speak the truth, do your duty, never swerve from the study of the Vedas; do not cut off the line of descendants in your family. Never deviate from the truth, never fail in your duty, never overlook your own welfare, never neglect your prosperity and study”.
Getting a degree does not mean that your duty is over. In fact your duty toward the society starts only now. What is your duty towards the society, this state and the nation as educated men and women? We have to place this in the right context. To fulfill our duty, the context in terms of past, present and future challenges should be understood well.
21st century is a knowledge century. It is said that this century is a century of India. The statement is a fact and a challenge as well. This is a fact because whenever in human history there has been a focus on knowledge, India has played its central role in it. Even today, India possesses a rich repository of knowledge in several spheres in the form of its knowledge texts and manuscripts. Moreover, it is a historical truth known to all of us that scholars from across the world visited India seeking its knowledge from the various Institutions and Universities spread across the country. It is also a historical truth that when one of the last historical universities of India, Nalanda was burnt in India, the world renowned Oxford and Cambridge were not even fully established. This is our rich heritage in Higher education which also includes Vallabhi Vidyapeeth.
This is just a glance about the historical legacy and heritage. But let us realize that it is our responsibility to carve the role and direction of Gujarat in this knowledge century of India. I need not highlight achievements of Gujarat in Industrial Progress, Investment and Infrastructural Development. The Vibrant Gujarat Global Investors Summit of 2011 is a proof for this. The whole country has taken note of it. After achieving the first place in Industrial Developments, Investments in Gujarat, our government has shifted its focus to education and health because they are centre of overall development.
My government has taken several initiatives in the education sector. The recently concluded 5th Vibrant Summit saw a commitment of $ 450 billion of investments with 7,936 MoUs signed amounting to Rs 20.83 lakh crore. Of these 84 MOUs were signed in different categories among higher education in the State and their international counterparts that included United States of America, Canada, South America, Australia, United Kingdom and South Asian countries. I am sure with renewed focus on higher education as part of our vision to transform Gujarat into a knowledge hub will bear fruit in near future with the active participation of all stake holders. The academic collaborations would be mutually beneficial to the State and to international institutions as well. New field of knowledge has been thrown open for youth and women and new universities/centres of advanced learning or excellence is going to be set up in collaboration with foreign universities.
Today India is emerging as a major economic power and Gujarat is placed well to take the country on a high growth trajectory. Gujarat already contributes a substantial part in India’s industrial production, capital formation and exports. In several products, it is in fact, a national leader and in certain others, a global player. Gujarat has thus emerged as growth engine of India. However, the potential is still very large and Gujarat must exploit the same for its own development and for growth of the country. If the growth is not tempered with education and if fruits of progress do not reach the deserving we then would be creating only islands of excellence. For this we need educated and highly qualified technical manpower. That is why I put Gyan Shakti on the top of the Panchamrut Yojana’s other four principles Urja Shakti, Jal Shakti, Jan Shakti and Raksha Shakti.
Friends, the focus on higher education in particular and education in general is essential because in knowledge based 21st century, Gujarat can contribute only if it makes relevant research and innovations in education and these research and innovations should be totally relevant and compatible to international standards and quality. For this purpose, our government has taken important steps and policy decisions. As research is considered vital & essential part of quality and value education, hence several programmes have been incorporated to encourage students and teachers for research orientation work. For providing a platform to all knowledge based institutions we have established Knowledge Consortium of Gujarat(KCG) which has initiated the process to develop repository for the research scholars across the nation as well as developing network between research scholars, guides across the state. With a view to develop capabilities of teachers in communication technology and related subjects, KCG, Department of Education has launched initiative Knowledge Management Programme (KMP). Under this initiative training for capabilities building is provided in the area of English and Computer for enabling our teachers to have access to knowledge resources. This initiative shall help them to develop awareness and acquisition at International level in their respective subject areas.
I am not looking at sports not as something which merely tones up the body. I am looking at it as a tool of education that stimulates the mind and brings in a culture of discipline. Keeping this in mind to develop physical, mental and creative abilities of students “Khel Mahakumbh” was organized during the Golden Jubilee Year of the state. “Chess Mahakumbh” too served the same purpose. It was meant to develop students’ capacity of concentration, analytical skills and anticipation that would help him or her to pursue studies in a pragmatic and healthy manner.
To rekindle the spirit of learning and reading we launched “Vanche Gujarat” in this Swarnim year. All these initiatives will provide motivation and creation of new formation to our education and particularly to higher education in Gujarat. For effective implementation of various initiatives started by Government of Gujarat, Knowledge Consortium of Gujarat (KCG) has created one structure for the Mission Mode Implementation (MMI). In this structure, 5 colleges make one cluster and several such clusters make one academic district. Under MMI, district coordinators, students and university representatives were selected and given training to implement, organize and monitor various initiatives effectively in all districts, clusters and colleges.
It will not be out of place to mention that the state of Gujarat is witnessing an atmosphere charged with silent revolution in higher education for several years now. The implementation of Choice Based Credit System (CBCS) which is in progress allows a student of mathematics the freedom to study subjects like music or philosophy.
These initiatives are not designed to be mere government programmes. They need to be supported by larger public participation across the state. I wish that these initiatives will not remain only for Swarnim Gujarat Year but will continue in subsequent years for brighter and prosperous future.
Friends, I have been talking at length about the initiatives that my government has taken in the field of education so that Gujarat becomes a force to reckon in “Knowledge sector.” It would be amiss if I fail to say something about what life means outside the portals of universities and colleges. There is a vast difference between learning by book in the protected environ of the four walls of an university and experiencing the real world outside. For those who are now at the threshold of a new dawn on this day as they venture out into a world full of challenges known and unknown it is no easy task. Facing a tough life outside needs vision and a purpose in life.
I don’t mean to scare any of you when I say the world outside is ‘big, bad, world’. The world is only as big or as bad as you make it out to be. There are difficulties, yes, but none that you won’t be able to surmount; there are obstacles, yes, but none that you cannot overcome. The greatest quality that a person can possess is the quality of self-belief. If you believe you can, you can. If you believe you won't, you most certainly won't.Belief is the ignition switch that gets you off the launching pad, for defeat is not the worst of failures, not to have tried is the true failure.
Success rarely comes to someone who is not sure of himself. We need to develop a vision that is promising to unravel our full potential. Admitting defeat means you lose the will to surmount difficulties. Fall seven times, stand up eight, goes an old Japanese saying. Recall how Sir Edmund Hillary, the first man to climb Mount Everest, refused to admit defeat when he failed the first time. On May 29, 1953 he scaled successfully the highest mountain then known to man though he had failed in 1952. Soon after his disappointing effort in 1952 a group in England called him to address its members and as Hillary walked to the stage amid thunderous applause the audience clearly saw a man who had attempted the impossible. But Edmund Hillary saw himself as a failure. He moved away from the microphone and walked to the edge of the platform and making a fist he pointed at a picture of the mountain and said in a loud voice, "Mount Everest, you beat me the first time, but I'll beat you the next time because you've grown all you are going to grow... but I'm still growing!" That is the spirit we need to adopt if we want to move ahead in life. Our desire for success should be greater than our fear of failure. It is worth remembering what the famous American writer Dale Carnegie once said, “
Don't be afraid to give your best to what seemingly are small jobs. Every time you conquer one it makes you that much stronger. If you do the little jobs well, the big ones will tend to take care of themselves. “
I believe you all must have read or heard about Harry Potter, the boy magician who is now weaving his magic in Hollywood. However, not many people know how difficult it was for the magic to begin. J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter books, is currently the second-richest female entertainer on the planet, behind Oprah. However, when Rowling wrote the first Harry Potter book in 1995, it was rejected by 12 different publishers. Even Bloomsbury, the small publishing house that finally purchased Rowling’s manuscript, told the author to “get a day job.” At the time when Rowling was writing the original Harry Potter book, her life was a self-described mess. She was going through a divorce and living in a tiny flat with her daughter. Rowling was surviving on government subsidies, and her mother had just passed away from multiple sclerosis. At such a bleak juncture in her life, what do you think carried her through? The answer is simple: a tiny little voice that arises from within and says, yes you can. J.K. Rowling followed that voice and turned these negatives into a positive by devoting most of her free time to the Harry Potter series. She in fact also drew from her bad personal experiences when writing. The result is now a brand name currently worth nearly $15 billion, but more importantly, a name which shall be remembered as having gotten children across the world back to reading books and discovering the attics of their imagination.
Today the mantra for success is how best you can utilize your wisdom gained through the continuous process of learning. Only two things can lead one to achieve real success in life and that is by inculcating human values and learning to live in amity with others. Education after all cannot be an end in itself; it is just a means to an end and a student must apply his knowledge for betterment of self, community and the country. To be able to do this he should first learn the importance of humility.
There is this story about a university professor who went to visit a famous Zen master to learn Zen meditation. While the master quietly served tea, the professor kept talking about how learned he was and how he was the best disciple the master could ever get. The master said nothing, but simply kept pouring tea into the visitor's cup. The cup got filled right up to the brim, and yet the master simply continued pouring. The professor watched the overflowing cup until he could no longer restrain himself. "It's overflowing! No more will go in!" the professor blurted. The master stopped pouring, looked calmly at the professor, and said, "You are like this cup." You must be open to ideas all the time. Don’t even for a moment think that you have learnt all that there is to learn. Each breath you take ushers in a new present, and each subsequent breath will be a moment in the future. Revel in the freshness of the present without resting on the laurels of the past, and you shall realize that the world opens up new experiences for you with every passing second. You might obviously be thinking about what there is to learn after having gone through so many years of academic rigor. However, when one faces the real world, one realizes that it's not any particular knowledge that one needs; rather it's just the ability to know how to learn, simply because we're not going to know what's going to be needed in the future. One needs to be constantly able to learn and adapt to new environments and new knowledge.
What is the aim of university education? Good education should help the students to pose the question “what is it to be human?” in relation to his highest aspirations as opposed to the common needs, to themselves and become aware that the answer is neither obvious nor simple. Each one of you should be able to ask the question “what should life mean to me?” Life has no proper meaning. You have to create a meaning for your life. It is the responsibility of each one of you to make your life meaningful. If you want to create a meaning for your life then you should work for it. Swami Vivekananda said “Arise, Awake and stop not till the goal is reached”, and that is the only way to live a meaningful life.
Creation of a spirit of inquiry and scientific temper which will help one understand that an individual is only a reflection of a larger world and translation of that understanding into action. I have great faith in the power of youth. Youth have the potential, honesty and courage to bring about a radical change. After 30 old age starts and perhaps that is why hippies say “don't trust a man beyond thirty”. Scientists say that all the cells in the human body are replaced totally once in seven years. They have also identified the major changes which take place in human life depending upon the seven-year cycle of change in the human body. One of the most interesting observations is that the age between 21 to 28 is the phase of rebellion, creative thinking and new ventures. Then in the next phase of 28 to 35, man becomes family oriented and starts believing in what John Kenneth Galbraith called conventional wisdom. In the following phases of cyclical change man becomes more and more ritualistic, and starts resisting any change and becomes more and more interested in security rather than going out for new ventures. In short it is the strength in youth, which can bring about a paradigm shift. So you cannot only dream big things, but also have the potential in you to transform your dreams into reality.
It is rightly said about those who fear competition of being doomed to lead a mediocre life. In the emerging globally competitive era it is the intangible knowledge capital that we have which counts the most. Today the world has shrunk thanks to knowledge revolution. It is no more correct to refer to a country as “distant country.” Thanks to the technological revolution the world has shrunk into being a global village. Therefore whatever education an university or institutes of higher education imparts it must achieve the global level of bench marking given the vastness and diversity of global village we live in today. And towards these end friends, Gujarat has spared no effort in charting a course that pursues a path of integration in the global village setup.
There is a saying that some men are born great, greatness is thrust upon some men and some men achieve greatness through their efforts, but the greatness which is achieved through one's own effort will be long lasting. You should have a goal in life, a lofty aim in life. You should strive hard towards achieving that aim. Like Ekalavyya who was born in a poor tribal family became a master archer surpassing even the Great Arjuna because of his will, effort, determination and perseverance. Each one of you can achieve excellence if you are focused on your aim. Thousands are born and thousands die every day and that is not called living. Living is a conscious process of taking responsibility. Why are some people more successful in their personal lives than others? Why do some people grow and flourish, move ahead rapidly and enjoy greater satisfaction and happiness in their lives and their work?
What are the determinants of success? First explore what success means to you. Then you should take control of your life by developing self-motivation, self-confidence, and greater sense of personal control. Develop a personal mission for you, set goals in major areas of your life, understand your values, align your mission, goals and values.
Develop courage and persistence by overcoming self imposed limitations such as fear. Develop resilience. If you have clear sense of purpose and goals then you will be better focused and will be able to concentrate, and the more responsibility you are capable of taking then the more self esteem, confidence and personal pride will grow.
And if you dream and pray in the process, you would succeed. Let us dream and pray with the great poet Rabindranath Tagore when he says:
“Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high,
Where knowledge is free,
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments by narrow domestic walls,
Where words come out from the depth of truth,
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection,
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way into the dreary desert sand of dead habit,
Where the mind is led forward by thee into that heaven of freedom,
My Father, let my country wake”.
And by wishing you all great success I would like to conclude my speech with the ringing words of the great American essayist Ralph Waldo Emerson who brought out the true meaning of education:
”We are shut up in schools and college recitation rooms for ten or fifteen years, and come out at last with a bellyfull of words and do not know a thing. The things taught in schools and colleges are not an education, but the means of education.”
Let us try and make a sincere effort for
true education in the Golden Jubilee Year of Gujarat