“Nothing gives me greater joy than to interact with young students and speak to them on occasions which mark important milestones in their lives and careers. All of you are bright young students, equipped with excellent education, ready to chart a new course for yourselves, conscious of the fact that your future and our nation’s future are intertwined with each other.
As you are aware, India today stands on the threshold of becoming one of the front-ranking nations in the world. We have a rich demographic dividend which we must leverage to our advantage—more than 65% of India’s population is under 35 years of age. Harnessed to their full potential, the talent and creative energies of our young minds will power India into the league of the strongest nations on world stage.
I hardly need emphasise the fact that education is the most powerful agent of change which can lend an impetus to the pace of development while giving it a qualitative thrust. School education prepares students for college, as well as for a lifetime of learning and active, responsible participation in a fast-changing world.
Sisters and Brothers,
As you are aware, India is an ancient cradle of knowledge, boasting of some of the oldest centres of learning known to man, such Nalanda and Taxashila, which once earned it the status of Vishwaguru. It has given humanity some of the most spiritually, linguistically and intellectually refined creative knowledge systems, including the Vedas, Upanishads, Puranas, and Itihasas such as The Ramayana and Mahabharata. You, dear students, must remember that we are the proud inheritors of this rich spiritual and cultural heritage. It is our duty to preserve and protect this glorious legacy and to strive collectively to ensure that our motherland, Bharat, regains its position of Vishwaguru in the comity of nations.
The Lawrence School, Lovedale, with its rich past spanning 165 years has shaped the minds and lives of many outstanding young men and women who have gone on to become leaders in their chosen domains. It has given you a grand lineage of traditions and values, which serve as your roots, as well as your guiding light, in terms of your educational and intellectual experience. You are the fortunate recipients of an all-round education that is a healthy blend of sound academic and good co-curricular learning. Do not forget that your efforts have been complemented in equal measure by those of your parents and gurus. In this remarkable academic setting, your teachers are your guides, mentors and friends. My dear students, the guru has always been a revered figure in Indian culture, held in high regard for his knowledge and wisdom.
Importantly, you should bear in mind that access to excellent school education is a privilege in our country. On its part, the Government is making every effort to change the educational landscape of the country and to make it more equitable, inclusive and accessible. You too, in your own modest way, must become a part of this national effort to take education to the underprivileged segments of society. We should be mindful of the fact that we cannot afford to let any section of society fall behind when it comes to education and socio-economic development.
In every single endeavour of yours you should stretch yourselves, intellectually and creatively to serve society and to become responsible members of the community. I am happy to learn that you are undertaking projects ranging from cleaning your surroundings to rebuilding an entire settlement at the tribal villages of Gudular and Pandalur in the Nilgiris District. You are doing yourselves, your school and the nation proud, by being actively engaged in initiatives like helping the flood-affected villages at Wayanad, by being of assistance to the people there to reconstruct their houses as well as rebuild a school. You will earn recognition, goodwill and appreciation of the community through such selfless work and this will, in turn, motivate you to be a part of larger, more ambitious community initiatives.
Sisters and Brothers,
I am sure you know that the National Education Policy-2020 spells out the way forward giving us a clear path for engaging educational institutions directly in national development. An important dimension of NEP is that it seeks to restructure our educational institutions and orient them towards the challenges of the knowledge economy. Once NEP is applied in letter and spirit in schools, colleges and universities across rural and urban India, it is set to revolutionize education in our country, making it more accessible and inclusive. Schools play a key role in nation-building and are destined to be a critical component of this knowledge revolution.
Schools should foster all-round growth and development of students—in intellectual, moral and creative terms. As in the case of this school, all educational institutions must also provide the required ambience and facilities for sports and games to ensure the holistic development of students’ personalities. I often counsel students to take up a sports activity, game or form of exercise which appeals to them and build a healthy lifestyle.
As students at this prestigious school, you have also had the benefit of spending your most formative years in these pristine natural surroundings. The time you spend in the lap of nature will prove to be among the most enriching takeaways of your life.
Your School’s Motto, ‘Never Give In’, has indeed drawn my attention. What does it convey? It tells you never to give in to dishonesty, falsehood and corruption. It also symbolizes Determination, Dedication, Strength, Commitment, Courage and Zeal. If you imbibe these qualities and remain true to yourselves and your goals, success will be yours.
Always remember that the knowledge you have acquired has the power to change the world. In the words of our ancient sages:
विद्याधनं सर्व धनं प्रधानम् - Knowledge is the supreme wealth.
Be a part of the mission to build a new, vibrant India. Stay positive, set high goals and benchmarks in life and devote yourselves to achieving them. Never give up hope or get daunted by difficulties. Be prepared to embrace change, explore critical thinking, creative approaches and look for out-of-the-box solutions. Seek to build a bright future for yourselves and for the larger community.