Sunday, January 24, 2010

Address during the inauguration of Post Centenary Silver Jubilee Celebrations of the New English High School,

22/Jan/2010 : Nagpur

“Education empowers the youth”
Knowledge makes you great

I am delighted to participate in the post-centenary silver jubilee celebrations of New English High School, Nagpur. I am happy that the school aims with to make students attain self-reliance in their personal life and become useful members of the society to which they belong and thereby become responsible citizens of India. To achieve this, the education in the school is structured to facilitate moral, intellectual, physical and social growth of all the students. I congratulate the pioneers both present and past who have created a robust educational environment in the school during the last 125 years. School can definitely be proud of its alumni who have taken up many important assignments both in national and international organizations. My greetings to all of you during the post-centenary silver jubilee celebrations. Today when I am in the midst of the students, I would like to talk on the topic “Education empowers the youth”.

Aim in life in the sequence
How does achievement come? There are four proven steps; having an aim in life before 20 years of age, acquiring knowledge continuously, hard work towards the aim and perseverance to defeat the problem and succeed. The aim of the education system is to equip the children with knowledge, so that they can apply the knowledge for solving real life problems. Friends, let me share with you a beautiful experience when I visited Greece in April 2007.

My experience in Greece
I was negotiating and climbing towards Acropolis mountain top in Athens and came across a group of 150 Greek students. They threw a spontaneous smile on me, the teachers came forward and introduced the students. They said, they were very happy to see the Indian President and that the children would like to hear a few words from him. My mind at that time was thinking about the great personalities, the land of Greece had given to the world: Socrates, Plato and Aristotle. The words of Plato were ringing in my mind when I saw the young students. It was 2400 years ago when Plato brought out that “Our aim in founding the State was not the disproportionate happiness of any one class, but the greatest happiness of the whole”.

Similarly, around the same period Tamil poet Saint Thiruvalluvar said,

That is, "the important elements that constitute a nation are: being disease free; high earning capacity; high productivity; harmonious living and strong defense". We have to find how we can provide all these elements to the citizens of every nation on an equitable basis for happiness for all.

With these thoughts, I made up my mind, of what to say to the students and the youth of Greece. I slowly repeated line by line, a hymn which I normally hear in Indian spiritual centers.


Where there is righteousness in the heart
There is beauty in the character.
When there is beauty in the character,
there is harmony in the home.
When there is harmony in the home.
There is an order in the nation.
When there is order in the nation,
There is peace in the world.

When the students and the youth repeated with me, the tourists around at the Acropolis also repeated and there was all round ovations. Then I realized how people from multiple nations, young and experienced were influenced by the thought of righteousness in the heart irrespective of their nationality. You can see how the righteousness in the heart generates beauty in the character in the human beings and beauty in the character leads to harmony in the home. Harmony in the home in an integrated way generates order in the nation. Of course the order in the nation finally blossoms peace in the world. The righteousness in the heart is the starting point for great individual, great family and great nation and ultimately great planet earth.

Now the question is: How do we inculcate the righteousness in the heart. In my opinion, there are three sources which can build a youth with righteousness in the heart. One is mother, second is father in a spiritual environment and the third and the most important is the teacher, particularly primary school teacher.

Friends, when you complete your school education, at the age of 15 to 17, what you will carry with you is knowledge. I will now give you the knowledge equation, which is : Righteousness + Creativity + Courage. Let me give you the meaning of creativity and courage as well.

“Learning gives creativity
Creativity leads to thinking
Thinking provides knowledge
Knowledge makes you great”

Another component is courage, which is characterized by:


Courage to think different,
Courage to invent,
Courage to travel into an unexplored path,
Courage to discover the impossible,
Courage to combat the problems and succeed, are the unique qualities of the youth.
As a youth of my nation,
I will work and work with courage to achieve success in all the missions.

Combination of creativity + righteousness + courage is knowledge. How will you acquire the knowledge up to the age of seventeen? You can certainly acquire knowledge from home, good books, teachers and teaching environment.

Let me now present what I learnt from my teacher.

Giving an aim at right age
When I think of my childhood days, I am reminded of Shri Sivasubramania Iyer who taught me when I was studying in 5th class at the age of 10. He was one of the very good teachers in our school. All of us loved to attend his class and hear him. One day he was teaching about bird's flight. He drew a diagram of a bird on the blackboard depicting the wings, tail and the body structure with the head. He explained how the birds create the lift and fly. He also explained to us how they change direction while flying. Nearly for 25 minutes he gave the lecture with various information such as lift, drag, how the birds fly in a formation of 10, 20 or 30. At the end of the class, he wanted to know whether we understood how the birds fly. I said I did not understand how the birds fly. When I said this, the teacher asked the other students whether they understood or not. Many students said that they also did not understand. Our response did not upset him, since he was a committed teacher.

Our teacher said that he would take all of us to the seashore. That evening the whole class was at the sea shore of Rameswaram. We enjoyed the roaring sea waves knocking at the sandy hills in the pleasant evening. Birds were flying with sweet chirping voice. He showed the sea birds in formations of 10 to 20 numbers. We saw the marvelous formations of birds with a purpose and we were all amazed. He showed us the birds and asked us to see that when the birds fly, what they looked like. We saw the wings flapping. He asked us to look at the tail portion with the combination of flapping wings and twisting tail. We noticed closely and found that the birds in that condition flew in the direction they desired. Then he asked us a question, where the engine is and how it is powered. Bird is powered by its own life and the motivation of what it wants. All these things were explained to us within Fifteen minutes. We all understood the whole bird dynamics from this practical example. How nice it was? Our teacher was a great teacher; he could give us a theoretical lesson coupled with a live practical example available in nature. This is real teaching. I am sure many teachers of New English High School will be following this example.

For me, it was not merely an understanding of how a bird flies. The bird's flight entered into me and created a special feeling. From that evening, I thought that my future study has to be with reference to flight and flight systems. I am saying this because my teacher's teaching and the event that I witnessed decided my future career. Then one evening after the classes, I asked the teacher, "Sir, please tell me, how to progress further in learning all about flight." He patiently explained to me that I should complete 8th class, and then go to high school, and then I should go to engineering college that may lead to education on flight. If I complete all my education with excellence, I might do something connected with flight sciences. This advice and the bird flying exercise given by my teacher, really gave me a goal and a mission for my life. When I went to college, I took Physics. When I went to engineering in Madras Institute of Technology, I took Aeronautical Engineering.

Thus my life was transformed as a rocket engineer, aerospace engineer and technologist. That one incident of my teacher teaching the lesson, showing the visual live example proved to be a turning point in my life which eventually shaped my profession.

Importance of Perseverance
My teacher Iyadurai Solomon, was an ideal guide for an eager young mind that was yet uncertain of the possibilities and alternatives that lay before it. He made his students feel very comfortable in 8th class with his warm and open-minded attitude. My teacher use to say that the teacher has to empower all categories of students excellent, good and average. During my stay at Ramanathapuram, Schwartz High School, my relationship with him grew beyond that of teacher and pupil. In his company, I learnt that one could exercise enormous influence over the events of one’s own life. Teacher Iyadurai Solomon used to say, “To succeed in life and achieve results, you must understand and master three mighty forces- desire, belief and expectation.” Iyadurai Solomon, who later became a Reverend, taught me that before anything I wanted could happen, I had to desire it intensely and work. One can be absolutely certain it would happen. I have seen him giving preference to many students who were not doing well in the class. They used to make up and subsequently perform better. This message, I am sure is applicable to all the teachers today. If all the teachers decide to create a desire in our Students to work towards and aim in life with value system they will definitely achieve their goal. Shining trait of my teacher’s teaching became his self-less service. From my discussions with many citizens from the country and across the world, I am convinced that education with value system is the need of the hour today.

Now I would like to discuss about the mission of ten billion trees.

Birth of a Global Mission: Ten billion trees
Dear friends, you are all teaching the process of photo-synthesis in the plant and tree family. “When the Sun shines, the green plants breakdown water to get electrons and protons, use these particles to turn carbon-di-oxide into glucose and vent out oxygen as a waste product.” Each mature tree in a year absorbs 20 Kgs of carbon-di-oxide and transforms into wood and reinforces the branches of the tree. At the same time, it lets out into the atmosphere and surrounding 14 kgs of oxygen which is the nature gift to the mankind. That’s why I have been administering during the last seven years to everyone of the five million youth I have met, a ten point oath, one of which emphasizes the need for plantation of trees. The oath reads: “I will plant ten trees and ensure their growth”. I understand that this oath has resulted in the plantation of millions of trees in different parts of the country during the last seven years. I would like to see in the year 2010 a green mission, billion trees from billion people of India. I am sure, the students and faculty members of New English High School Nagpur can plant five trees each as their post-centenary silver jubilee contribution to the school and nurture them.

Let not thy winged days, be spent in vain
As you all know, the earth rotates on its own axis once in a day having 24 hours or 1440 minutes or 86400 seconds. Earth itself orbits around the sun. It takes nearly one year for an orbit. With the completion of one rotation of earth around the sun, your age is added by one year as you are living on planet earth. Seconds fly, minutes fly, hours fly, days fly and years fly. We have no control over it. The only thing that we can do is, while the time flies, we can navigate the time. “Let not thy winged days, be spent in vain”.

Conclusion: Building Confidence
Dear friends, during the last few years, I have seen, how India Vision 2020 has inspired the people particularly the youth of the nation, which has resulted in many taking up many missions directed towards Vision 2020. Now I recall a situation in 1990 beginning when I was interacting with the youth of Ahamedabad, one girl asked me a question “When can I sing a song of India?” At that time, her brother who was United States was always talking about the best in the United States. This girl sitting in India was fed up about his brother’s stories and in her quest to find an answer she asked me “When can I sing a song of India?” How do I answer, I have explained about the Developed India Vision 2020 and told her that have a confidence and certainly you can sing a song of India by 2020. The same spirit echoed everywhere during that time. But for the last few years, while interacting with the youth, I had seen a marked change in the thinking of the youth. They have always been asking me “What can I give to the nation?” That means youth are ready to contribute for the national development? Recently during the last one year, I see a further a change, they tell me “I can do it”, “We can do it” and the “Nation will do it”. See the 540 million youth of the nation whom you represent, are ready to participate in the development process. Hence, India will certainly become a developed nation before the year 2020.

With these words, I inaugurate the Post Centenary Silver Jubilee Celebrations of New English High School, Nagpur. My best wishes to all the members of New English High School success in their educational mission.

May God bless you.

Oath for the Youth

1I will have a goal and work hard to achieve that goal. I realize that small aim is a crime.

2.I will work with integrity and succeed with integrity.

3.I will be a good member of my family, a good member of the society, a good member of the nation and a good member of the world.

4.I will always try to save or better someone's life, without any discrimination of caste, creed, language religion or state. Wherever I am, a thought will always come to my mind. That is “What can I give?”

5.I will always protect and enhance the dignity of every human life without any bias.

6.I will always remember the importance of time. My motto will be “Let not my winged days, be spent in vain”.

7.I will always work for clean planet Earth and clean energy.

8.As a youth of my nation, I will work and work with courage to achieve success in all my tasks and enjoy the success of others.

9.I am as young as my faith and as old as my doubt. Hence, I will light up then, the lamp of faith in my heart.

10.My National Flag flies in my heart and I will bring glory to my nation

Dr. A.P.J Abdul Kalam

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