Address by Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu, Honourable Vice President at the Golden Jubilee Celebrations of Sri Satya Sai Institute of Higher Learning, in Bengaluru on June 09, 2019.

Bengaluru | June 9, 2019

"I am extremely happy to be with all of you at the Golden Jubilee Celebrations of Sri Satya Sai Institute of Higher Learning (SSSIHL).

Completion of 50 years, the celebration of the Golden Jubilee is a crucial milestone in the journey of this educational institution.

It is an eloquent testimony of the enduring vision of Sri Satya Sai Baba, an extraordinary guru who inspired millions of people across the globe to actively participate in the service of humanity.

He was a transformational leader who established educational institutions and hospitals and demonstrated to the world how values can be inculcated through education and how healthcare can be delivered to the poor.

I am glad this institution initially set up as Sri Satya Sai Arts and Science College on 9th June 1969 has made a mark for itself.

It’s heartening to hear that the students of the Institute have been serving their motherland in various capacities, as members of the armed forces, civil service officers, advocates, judges, scientists, researchers, academicians, entrepreneurs and members of the Indian diaspora.

I am happy to note that the small seed sown by Baba fifty years ago has now grown into a Kalpavriksha, a tree that gives limitless fruits of knowledge and is in full bloom with countless flowers spreading the fragrance of peace and wisdom.

Good quality education is truly a Kalpavriksha for the individual, for a country, a nation and for the world. It is a unique treasure.  As the ancient Indian Subhashita goes,

Vyaye krute vardhathaevanityam
Vidya dhanam sarvadhana pradhaanam

“Of all the treasures, education is the most important and most crucial. It is unique because more you share it with others, the more it grows”.

Education is, indeed, one of the major catalysts of growth. The countries prosper once its citizens become educated. Studies have shown that the phenomenal growth of countries in East Asia was largely due their educational progress. As one recent OECD study conducted in 2012 showed, “on average, about half of the economic growth is related to labour income growth at the tertiary level of education.”

Kothari Commission’s report of 1964-68 which laid down the country’s education policy, had started with the opening statement that, “the destiny of our country is being shaped in our classrooms.”

We, in India, are now embarking on a major reform process. You would have read about the draft National Education policy that has been released for public debate a few days ago. It is a document that covers a whole range of issues in great detail. It seeks to lay out a path for making quality education accessible to all children and youth. It looks at the need to aim for excellence and equity. It strikes a balance between the national needs and ethos and the need to prepare our students to be among the best in the global context. It calls for a pragmatic language policy in which mother tongue is given its due importance and so also is proficiency in other languages required to advance in a multilingual world.

The report comes at a crucial time in India’s developmental journey.

Today’s India is a young India. It has more than 50% of its population below the age of 25 and more than 65% below the age of 35. This is a huge untapped demographic dividend. To realize this dividend, we need to invest in education. 

We must ensure our education system is revamped to equip our young children and youth with the knowledge, skills and attitudes required for the 21st century.

The foundations of this structure must be strengthened.

India’s literacy rate is at 74.04%. The youth literacy rate, measured within the age group of 15 to 24, is 81.1%. We must ensure that in the next few years, we have a population that can read and write, to compute, to articulate and participate with greater self-confidence in the developmental processes.

Our school system must be more child friendly and geared towards a holistic development of each child’s innate faculties.

Our higher education system needs to be re-engineered to bring in greater emphasis on excellence in research and teaching.

The draft National Education Policy 2019 contains a number of recommendations that will potentially advance the education agenda of the country and help India move towards a higher growth trajectory.

These suggestions of the expert panel have to be studied by all the stakeholders in the country, the parents, the students, the educators, the educational administrators and all those who care for the future of our country.

There must be an active engagement with key issues raised in the draft policy.  We all must look forward with buoyant and create the India of the future by taking some bold, ambitious decisions on education today.

The draft policy is an excellent occasion for us to take stock of what has been achieved and also shape the future.  I do hope eminent institutes like yours will also contribute to this national dialogue.

As our economy becomes more robust and resilient, as we keep reforming each of our governance structures and trying to transform the lives of our citizens, as we gain greater stature in the comity of nations, the education system, the catalytic development accelerator should be further activated and given utmost attention.

We have to shape the future. The onus of molding the future is upon us collectively and we must not fail.

It is time that we re-think, re-imagine and re-invent our entire education system.

Your institution has already shown some promising directions.

You have demonstrated as to how we can draw inspiration from our country’s great heritage and blend it with  the best elements of thought and action from around the globe.

You have consistently strived to nurture creativity and imagination in our youngsters and opened up innumerable opportunitiesfor creative self-expression, all round growth and optional development of multiple competencies.

Shri Satya Sai Baba had a grandiose vision of education, a vision that integrated diverse strands of human life and experience.  For him, education was for life not merely for living.

Education as practiced in your institution is ‘transformational’. It is not merely ‘transactional’.

It is not merely passing on of information or imparting knowledge or refining your skills.  It is much more than that. 

It is what makes each one of you realize your true potential. In a way, as Swami Vivekananda also said, it is a process by which all your hidden talents are discovered, by which the perfection you already have within you is realised. 

The way we think, the way we learn, the way we talk, the way we respond to external events and the way we lead our lives gets transformed with sound education.

Let me quote Baba’s words here. He had said in his characteristic style, “I want my students to have the head of Sankara, the hands of Janaka and the heart of Buddha.” What he was implying was that intellectual brilliance must be combined with good deeds and compassionate behavior. For Baba, each of us is inherently divine and if we can combine education with devotion, we can realize those divine qualities.

My dear sisters and brothers,

We are today in a knowledge based economy.  To thrive in this rapidly changing world, we cannot afford to have a mediocre or qualitatively sub-optimal system of education.

Doing things better, doing things which have not been done earlier, doing multiple things at the same time, we have to recast the education system.

Islands of excellence like your institution can be effective light houses.  We need to have many more such lighthouses and, ultimately, we should have a much larger number of educational institutions that focus on all round development of an individual’s personality.

The head, hand and heart must develop simultaneously. One should devote as much time on non-cognitive aspects as on the cognitive dimension. Since life is multi-dimensional, education too must remain multi-dimensional.

Our ancient sages have said, “SaaVidyaaYaaVimuktaye” (Good education is the one which liberates). There is an emancipatory quality about education. It gives us freedom to choose, freedom to think and freedom to act. It gives us the ability to sift the chaff from the grain. Good quality education liberates us from ignorance, superstition, bigotry, prejudices and narrow tunnel vision.  This is the kind of education which we must impart in our schools and colleges. This is the education that Baba had also envisaged.  He had said, “In this institute, the medium of instruction is discipline. The first, second and third languages are love, service and Sadhana.”

Dear Sisters and brothers,

You all are fortunate to be studying in this excellent environment which is suffused with this idealistic vision of the great soul, Sri Satya Sai Baba. 

The hallmark of this institution is the continuous quest for excellence.  Its defining characteristic is the constant endeavour to transform students into good human beings capable of making significant contribution to the world around them.

On this auspicious occasion of golden jubilee, I wish the faculty, administrators and the students the very best in shaping this great institution in accordance with the vision and mission of Sri Satya Sai Baba. I am sure your efforts to use your knowledge and skills for transforming human lives and serving those who need our help will greatly contribute to the building of a new India and a new world.

Om Sai Ram!

Jai Hind!"