Good morning respected principal, Father John, teachers and all the students present here. I am truly grateful to Father Ajit Kumar Xess for thinking me worthy of addressing this august gathering. Let me begin by congratulating all of you at the golden Jubilee of your school and also wishing each and every one of u a very Happy Independence Day. For over half a century our nation has sprung, stumbled, run, followed, rolled over, gotten up and dusted herself. As students, we must always be reminded of this constant perseverance that has always been the backbone of success of our nation today.
We live in a country whose faith in success is far greater than her fear of failure. We no longer boycott foreign goods but buy the companies that produce them instead. At this juncture we must also think of our freedom fighters who laid down their lives for our country’s independence. When they began with their struggle, they were young, just like you and me. Their struggle, dedication and unrelenting zeal transformed us into a free nation. They dreamt big, stayed focused, and fought against all odds to achieve their goal.
As we stand here, at the threshold of a new phase in our lives, we must take valuable lessons from them and incorporated these into our lives. We must also think of the India today and compare it with the India that the people who fought for our independence, had in their minds. They fought for a free country where everyone would be regarded as equal, every Indian would have equal opportunities. But the India that we see today is not quite as it was imagined to be. We still have a long way to go.
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Even though, as Indians, we have a lot to be proud of: we are the citizens of a country which has given birth to scholars like Rabindranath Tagore, Amartya Sen, Scientists like Jagdish Chandra Bose, C. V. Raman, visionaries like Mahatma Gandhi and Sportspersons like Kapil Dev, Saina Nehwal, who have represented our country and brought respect to our nation, worldwide. We must draw inspiration from these extraordinary Indians and do something which will not only benefit us, but will also make our fellow Indians proud.
In about an years’ time, most of you will be enrolled in engineering colleges, or medical colleges, or might as well go abroad for further studies. Let the thought of the Indian freedom fighters, scholars and scientist make you reach for the stars. At the same time, don’t forget your motherland. We are yet to achieve a “free” and fair India. We have the third largest pool of doctors, engineers and scientists. Yet, 25 % of our population is illiterate. That is 300,000,000 (a huge chunk of the population) people who cannot read or write. We are ranked the 2nd largest country in the world suffering from mal nutrition. 5 million people are suffering from AIDs. There exists a huge divide between one India and another India. One India says give me a chance and I’ll prove myself, to the other India, we say prove yourself first and then u will have your chance. One India wants, the other India hopes; one India leads and the other India follows. Our responsibility as citizens of this country is to converge this divide and forge one India and thereby create a country that our freedom fighters envisaged. Do not let anything stop you from realising your potential.
I would to leave you to mull over the following words given by the father of our nation: “I will give you a talisman. Whenever you are in doubt, or when the self becomes too much with you, apply the following test. Recall the face of the poorest and the weakest man [woman] whom you may have seen, and ask yourself, if the step you contemplate is going to be of any use to him [her]. Will he [she] gain anything by it? Will it restore him [her] to a control over his [her] own life and destiny? In other words, will it lead to swaraj [freedom] for the hungry and spiritually starving millions? Then you will find your doubts and yourself melt away.
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