Address by Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu, Honourable Vice President at the 21st Foundation Day Celebrations of the Vivekananda Institute of Human Excellence, Ramakrishna Math, Hyderabad from New Delhi on 10 September 2020.

New Delhi | September 10, 2020

“I am delighted to participate in the 21st Foundation Day Celebrations of Vivekananda Institute of Human Excellence (VIHE).
I am happy to note that the VIHE has completed 20 years of dedicated service in the pursuit of human excellence. I applaud the institute for having trained people from different walks of life-- youth, students, teachers, government employees, employees of Public Sector Undertakings, corporate bodies and professionals like engineers, doctors and others.
I am told the chief aim of the Institute is to instill faith in oneself and impart nobler values of life and life-giving strength, to enable individuals to lead more fulfilling spiritual lives based on moral, ethical and eternal values.
It is indeed praiseworthy that the institute, since its inception, has trained more than 18 lakh candidates in different courses.
I am happy to note that the institute is celebrating its Foundation day today and 127th Anniversary of Swami Vivekananda’s address at the Parliament of World’s Religions tomorrow, in spite of the exigencies of the pandemic that has disrupted different facets of our lives.
In 2018, I myself had the good fortune of speaking at the Historic Art Institute of Chicago, the place where Swami Vivekananda delivered his legendary speech in 1893.
It was this famous speech by Swami Vivekananda that drew the world’s attention towards India and its rich heritage. He spoke about the antiquity of our culture and civilization, including its numerous achievements and remarkable contributions. It was Swami Vivekananda who highlighted the importance of the ancient Indian philosophy of Vedanta and the spirit of universality, tolerance and acceptance that underpins ancient Indian thought.
Swami Vivekananda’s journey to Chicago in the winter of 1893 is also symbolic of the journey that the Hindu philosophical thoughts have made to lands far and wide across the world.
I have been a fond votary of Swamiji's teachings since my college and university days. He was one of the tallest sons of India, a great spiritual teacher and a true embodiment of Hindu Culture. His thoughts on religion, spirituality, nationalism, education, philosophy, social reform, poverty alleviation and empowerment of the masses have helped shape my own thoughts. His words have always remained an inspiration to me.
Swamiji understood the soul of the nation and the ethos of its culture and endeavoured to rebuild it on the noblest ideals that were enshrined in its spiritual foundations of Sanatana Dharma.
The Indian renaissance and reformation Movements of 19th century reached peak with the coming of Swami Vivekananda on the national scene. He worked tirelessly for national transformation through religious purification, spiritual emancipation and social regeneration.
To this day, Swamiji’s teachings remain eternal edicts to the whole world. I feel that the youth of today must study the life and works of Swami Vivekananda and follow his message with heart and soul.
Today, we need many more educational institutions that will take the universal teachings of giants like Swami Vivekananda and Sree Ramakrishna Pramahamsa and their interpretations closer to the common man.
My dear sisters and brothers,
I see an imminent need to re-imagine, reinvent and reengineer our entire education system, if we are to effectively meet the many formidable challenges of the 21st century. The National Education Policy 2020 is a major step in that direction.
We have an immense opportunity before us in the form of a huge demographic dividend and we must not fail to leverage this great competitive advantage.
We must not only educate but we must educate well. The quality of education is of crucial importance. Here, I would like to emphasize that education is meant not only to make a living and live a comfortable life. What is more important is education must enable an individual to become a well-rounded person with grit, moral courage, equanimity, empathy and spiritual strength. Education is meant to enlighten and empower an individual.
We need holistic education. We need to adopt a multi-disciplinary approach as NEP 2020 has suggested.
We need to foster innovation, encourage entrepreneurial ability and a deeper awareness of our country’s rich heritage.
In the words of Swami Vivekananda, whose message the Institute primarily spreads, “What we want is western science coupled with Indian Vedanta”.
The basic objective of education must be ‘life-building, man-making, character-making assimilation of ideas’ that Swami Vivekanada envisioned. He wanted education to result in the creation of an integrated person, a person who is empathetic, active, competent, humble and hardworking, a person who is open to new ideas, tolerant to different viewpoints and committed to world peace and collaborative, collective human progress.
To me, true education is the relentless pursuit of truth and the constant endeavor to improve the human condition. True education must empower our children to become responsible, concerned, engaged citizens, not only of India but of the world.
Education must help our youth to develop critical thinking faculties, clearly identify the problems that plague humanity and come up with definitive solutions. I have always maintained that any knowledge stream or scientific and technological prowess that does not help solve the problems faced by humanity, by the common man, is of very little use.
Education must also encourage our children to take great pride in our ancient cultural heritage and prepare them to be global ambassadors of our age-old values and morals.
The pursuit of excellence must be an integral part of our education system. Every child is unique, different and has different capabilities and talents. We must be able to recognize this fundamental fact and nurture and develop these unique faculties in children. We not only need scientists and technocrats but also artists and story tellers and poets. Excellence should be ingrained in the culture of our educational institutions.
The cultivation of excellence takes discipline, single-minded focus and determined effort. At this critical juncture in our journey as a nation, excellence is imperative and mediocrity is no longer an option. I am hopeful that VIHE will keep up its quest for excellence.
I am sure the New Education Policy will facilitate India to fully realize the demographic dividend and make the country a knowledge and innovation hub in the 21st century. I am hopeful that excellence will be the guiding overarching principle in whatever we do.  After all that is what yoga is meant to be “Karmasu Kaushalam”, achieving high order skills and excellence.  It is also what Swami Vivekananda gave as a clarion call to the youth – “Awake, arise, stop not till you achieve your goals.”
Once again, I wish the 21st Foundation Day Celebrations of Vivekananda Institute of Human Excellence all success.
Thank You!”