Those joining me today for this absolutely wonderful program the honourable Mayor of Lucknow Smt. Sanyukta Bhatia ji, Professor Geeta Gandhi Kelkar, Mrs. Sushmita Basu, the Principals of the various institutions that the City Montessori School runs in and around Lucknow, and all the assembled teachers, students and possibly some parents of the City Montessori School, my compliments to all of you on this wonderful occasion on the occasion of the Teachers’ Day, which we have all gathered here to celebrate.
I was extremely impressed with the quality of presentations that were made today, and at the outset I must compliment all the participants in the various programs. The dances were of very high-quality, the songs were rendered beautifully, very melodiously, and most importantly, what I enjoyed most was the enthusiasm, the smiles on the faces that I could see, it was not a punishment, it was joy to participate in the function. And I think that is what defines a good institution, an institution which prepares you in a very holistic manner, after all, academic excellence would come naturally to an Institute of such high repute.
In fact, you celebrate excellence; that is what CMS stands for – celebrating excellence. But I think that excellence transcends beyond academics. Co-curricular activities, music, culture, our rich tradition that we are all very proud of, the heritage that we have all inherited, I think that development of a student for which all of you teachers are responsible is truly what differentiates the CMS from probably hundreds and thousands of institutions all over the country.
In fact, it’s a matter of pride that you have entered your 60th year, having been founded in 1959, and as the illustrious founder was just informing me, you have close to 57,000 students and over 4,500 teachers. So, I think in the 60th year, you will cross the 60,000 mark. And when I saw the results of the program that is taught here, the ICSE and ISC examination, where almost 2000 students have scored more than 90% and I know ICSE and ISC are not easy exams to go by, with 95% marks being scored by almost 10% of the candidates, out of 5,700 odd candidates 577 have scored over 95%. It’s truly a remarkable achievement and I compliment all of you teachers for this.
In fact, yesterday was Janmashtami and tomorrow is Teachers’ Day. So we are very beautifully sandwiched between these two very important days in our life. And why I say that it’s a beautiful sandwich is because while Teachers’ Day is celebrated on the birthday of Dr. Radhakrishnan, probably one of the finest teachers that India has ever produced and a role model for all of us here, but Janmashtami celebrates the birthday of Lord Krishna – possibly one of the finest teachers the world has ever seen – who in the midst of the Mahabharata through the Gita was able to give pearls of wisdom to Arjuna not only in the art of warfare but in the art of living and who taught Arjuna principles and conditions of life, which possibly is the duty of all of us teachers assembled here today.
I think most of us in our childhood and me certainly have been privileged to have some of the best teachers teaching me, grooming me up. I think I have spent more time in school and in college than I have spent at home with my own mother, and therefore, when we are paying respect you will observe that the teacher comes even before God. When you are talking about teachers, on the contextual role that the teacher plays, its “Mata, Pita, Guru, Deivam.” So, Guru comes before the devas and that is the important role that all the teachers in this country, in the world are playing today.
And when you all the teachers presented the prayer for world unity, it actually reflects the mindset that the CMS is teaching to the children of your institution that we are not only here as students to learn the academics, learn the books, learn the curriculum, but we are here to prepare students, prepare children for a world of tomorrow, a world of peace, a world of progress, a world of prosperity. And I am delighted that CMS has chosen this path of growth, but growing in terms of value systems, growing in terms of quality of education, growing in terms of its expanse across the city of Lucknow – not only growing in numbers but growing in terms of the importance that you are playing in the lives of 57,000 odd students.
In fact, very often when one looks at looks back in our own lives, we realise what the teacher has done for all of us. I have been a Minister now for four and half years and I can promise you that every single one of these four and half years there has been some teaching that a teacher in my life gave me, some pearls of wisdom, some knowledge that is being put to use every single moment of my life. Even as I was preparing to come here today, even as I was learning more about your school I was remembering that the teacher at a very early age had inculcated the habit of research and inculcated the habit of preparation before you go for any important function.
When you are looking at your behaviour towards your elders, towards the youngsters, towards your colleagues you realise that it was some teacher in your formative years who taught you etiquette. When you are negotiating with probably a foreign country or the diplomats in your job you realise it was some teacher who taught you the give and take of life, how you are going to be able to be successful in achieving your goals, because it’s only when you have a win-win solution that you can actually conclude transactions, that you can actually get results.
Before I came in here, we had a extended meeting with the government of Uttar Pradesh, the railway officials, the honourable Chief Minister and his colleagues, and we were all discussing various projects that have been carried out in Uttar Pradesh, that are proposed to be carried out in Uttar Pradesh and every single one of that discussions that took place this morning I could possibly relate to something that I learnt either in school or in college or in some management program. And then, of course, learning goes on all through your life, the teacher changes.
You may have a teacher in school, you may have some different set of teachers in college, a different set of teachers who teach you while you are preparing for post graduation for studies beyond that. You have a teacher at home, your mother, your sister, your brother, you have teachers amongst your friends who often guide you, particularly, through important junctures of your life when you need assistance, when you need support and then you have teachers all through your life.
I have been privileged to have some of the finest teachers not only in school and college but I had the privilege of being mentored by your representative from Lucknow, somebody who represented Lucknow for five terms as a member of Parliament, somebody who became Prime Minister of this country, an illustrious son of the soil who mentored me when I was a child when I was literally a toddler in arms and whom we remember today with great pride.
And I tell you no sadness, there is no sadness when I remember Atal ji. There is only pride. There is only happiness at a life well led and a life of service to society – selfless service, service which had no boundaries. And I was delighted when I saw in your various books and brochures that Jagdish ji just shared with me that Vajpayee ji had come here in 1974, 55 years ago, also as Prime Minister in 1997. What better privilege can an institution have?
In fact, I will share a small nugget from my childhood, which possibly I haven’t spoken about for many-many years. Vajpayee ji whom I used to call chacha ji used to stay at my home whenever he came to Mumbai and I must say we probably all of six or seven years old, for those of you who interacted with Vajpayee ji you know that in the afternoon he would take a small power nap for half an hour, one hour, whatever he could get, he would always take a small power nap after his meal. And, of course, as young children we don’t sleep in the afternoon, we like to play in the afternoon.
So, I was in the living room playing marbles on the carpet and I was terrible at it. I could never hit a marble even if it was 2 feet away. So, I was playing marbles alone, Atal ji was sleeping in one of the rooms, the rest of the family may have also retired. And I am talking of the early 70s, and this is one of those memories that sticks on in your life and I am relating it to you as teachers, because suddenly he must have got up, he came into the living room and he saw me playing marbles and he saw me missing every time I tried to hit a marble. And I don’t know if I am right when I say that but normally कंचे जब खेलते हैं तो इस ऊँगली से मारते हैं, the second finger, the middle finger, पर अटल जी पहली ऊँगली से whatever this is called, you teachers know better, the forefinger.
अटल जी कंचे में बड़े उस्ताद थे, बड़े माहिर थे तो उन्होंने आकर देखा कि मुझे तो आता-वाता है नहीं कुछ, he had a little larger frame to एकदम he plunged onto the sofa, picked up a marble, put it on his knee, put his thumb on his knee and with the forefinger, 8 feet away, he was able to blast a marble – 8 feet away. और मैं यहाँ पर बाज़ू में मार्बल नहीं मार पा रहा था and this is one of those memories which just sticks on in life that a young boy learning from Mr. Vajpayee कि कंचे कैसे खेलते हैं. That was the multifarious personality that Atal Bihari Vajpayee ji represented.
A man of many parts, he was more a poet than a politician and we just heard the rendition of one of his most famous poetries, a very sensitive human being, a person who cared for every section of society, a world leader, a tall statesman and a man of not only wisdom, but a man of strength, who could do Pokhran and made this country proud and fiercely independent.
Today, I have the privilege of learning from another teacher – Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi. Another illustrious leader of this country representing Uttar Pradesh, a person who believes in “Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas” which was so beautifully reflected in the various cultural programmes you just now presented here. A person who has lived in poverty and understands the pain of poverty, understands the needs of poor person, a small child born in a poor family has. And, therefore, I was very privileged when he gave me the responsibility of taking power, electricity to every village, to every hamlet, to every home in this country.
And I am happy to share with you, I was just now talking to Maharaj Yogi Adityanath Ji, the honourable Chief Minister, in the last few months that the BJP government, led by him, has been in power here, they have already taken electricity to 45 lakh new electricity users’ homes in Uttar Pradesh, and in the next month, between September and October, another 35 lakh homes will receive free electricity connection under the Saubhagya Yojana of the government.
When we came into government, there were almost 30 crore citizens of India, who were deprived of electricity. Before our first term in office ends in the middle of next year and I am not being arrogant, I am not being presumptuous; I have the confidence in the wisdom of people of India that they will vote wisely next year. Therefore, I am venturing to say that before our first term in office ends next year, we would have ensured that every single willing consumer, every single home in this country, will have an electric connection and no child in the future, no child in the future will ever-ever have to study in a lantern or a kerosene lamp like Prime Minister Narendra Modi had to study in his childhood or my late father had to study under street lamps in the streets of Ambala in his childhood.
I do not think there can be a greater gift that a student can give based on the learnings of life to the citizen of India and Prime Minister Modi in that sense is inspired by Swami Vivekananda, who always said “they only live, who live for others.”
In fact, I think madam Geeta ji was just asking me, why did you decide to go into politics? While, of course, I had made up my mind probably at a very young age, but I think politics is a medium by which you can impact millions of lives for the better, if you choose to. And I think it’s important that good people come into public life, come into politics and I would urge all of you teachers also to build-up good public leaders of tomorrow and an institution like CMS can actually be the breeding ground of the future leaders of India who are willing to serve selflessly, who are not looking at politics as a profession or as a money-making profession or work, but who are willing to look at politics as a medium of service.
I will share one more nugget before I conclude of how Prime Minister Modi is also a teacher in his own way and who keeps guiding all of us colleagues of how we can work better, how we can serve better. I remember I had launched the LED bulbs program in January of 2015, I am sure by now all of you would be aware and if you’re not that means I have been a very bad communicator that I have not been able to spread the message across the country that LED bulbs reduce the energy consumption to almost 15-20% of what the old incandescent bulbs used to consume. So, many of you will remember we had those 60 watt, 90 watt old bulbs, which are now replaced by 7 watt, 9 watt LED bulbs, and as any science teacher here will tell you that there is a straight correlation, if you replace a 60 watt bulb by a 7 watt bulb the electricity consumption is going to be down to probably 12 or 15%.
So, Prime Minister Modi who believes very much in climate change, who believes that we have to leave behind a better planet for the children of tomorrow, probably than the one we inherited, who is very concerned about the environment, who is very concerned about bringing down pollution levels, who is very concerned about greenhouse gases about the impact that we are having on the ozone layer and the problems that the world is facing because of climate change.
Prime Minister Modi is very keen that we have to conserve energy, we have to bring down electricity consumption, and obviously, we also recognise that that brings down the electricity bills of the consumers. So, we embarked on these LED bulbs program with a mission that we will take, we replace every incandescent bulb with an LED bulb in about four years time. We had a target to replace about 77 crore bulbs in four years.
I am happy to share with you, ladies and gentlemen, that it is now only three years and three months, three years and three months since the first bulb was sold in 2015, middle of 2015, and the country has already replaced 118 crore bulbs, old bulbs with LED bulbs. 118 crore of which some 31 crore are sold by one single government company and the rest almost 88 crores by the private sector.
And in this process, because we scaled up this program to such large levels, the cost of these bulbs has come down by 87%. I won’t go into the reasons why they have come down, but you will appreciate that when the system of purchase by the earlier governments and the system of purchase under Prime Minister Modi are significantly different and when you do a thing which is corruption-free, which is completely transparent and honest you can see the results for yourself.
But the learning I wanted to share with you happened sometime in the middle of 2015. I had gone to honourable Prime Minister to report to him about the progress of auction of coal blocks, you will recall that in the previous years there was a big Coalgate scam, because of which the country lost lakhs of crores of rupees. And after Prime Minister Modi took over, he brought the system of a transparent auction by which the natural resources of the country are given away totally transparent, equal opportunity for all to participate in that auction and which is fetching lakhs of crores of rupees of revenue in the next 25-30 years, which will serve the poor of India.
So I had gone to Prime Minister Modi to report the progress of the coal block auctions and after I completed my report card I almost got up to leave and he asked me, ‘Piyush LED bulbs कितने बिक गए हैं अब तक? I was taken aback, मैं तो कोयले के ऑक्शन की नीलामी की रिपोर्ट देने आया था, मुझे क्या मालूम था LED bulbs के बारे में पूछ लेंगे सर। मैंने कहा सर मैं off the cuff मुझे फिगर नहीं मालूम है मैं चेक करके आपको रिपोर्ट भेजता हूँ। He said, ‘बैठो, काम ऐसे नहीं होता है, अगर काम में सफलता पानी है तो काम को मॉनिटर करना पड़ेगा, निगरानी रखनी पड़ेगी कि काम कैसे हो रहा है और जवाब देही बनाना पड़ेगा उन लोगों को जिनको काम करना है – accountability and monitoring.
मैंने तो सोचा था मैंने हावर्ड में भी कोर्स किया है, दुनिया भर में कई सारे यूनिवर्सिटीज़ में लीडरशिप सीखने के लिए गया हूँ, चार्टर्ड एकाउंटेंसी करी, क़ानून पढ़ा, पर यह नहीं ध्यान आया कि इतनी एलीमेंटरी बात मैं चूक गया।
प्रधानमंत्री जी ने एक एग्जाम्पल भी दिया, आपको याद होगा जन धन योजना के तहत हमने देश भर में हर परिवार का अपना खाता हो, बैंक में खाता खुले इसकी बड़ी पहल की थी और चार साढ़े चार महीने के अंदर ही लगभग देश में हर घर तक बैंक का खाता पहुँचाया था जन धन योजना के तहत। तो उन्होंने कहा जन धन में तुम्हें कैसे लगता है इतने सब खाते खुल गए, इतने कम समय में।
मैंने कहा आप हर कैबिनेट मीटिंग में बताते थे कि इतने खुल गए हैं, इतना इसमें प्रगति हुई है, कई मंत्रियों को कहते थे कि आप अपने राज्य में ज़रा ओर देखो, काम को तेज़ गति लाओ। बोले नहीं, कैबिनेट में तो मैं अपनी रिपोर्ट कार्ड तुम्हें देता था। मैं रोज़ सुबह 9 बजे रिव्यू करता था कि कितने खाते देश भर में खुले हैं डिस्ट्रिक्ट-वाइज़| जो-जो डिस्ट्रिक्ट में मुझे कमी लगती थी, यह प्रधानमंत्री जी मुझे सिखा रहे हैं, जो-जो डिस्ट्रिक्स मुझे कमी लगती थी वहाँ के लीड बैंक के मैनेजर से मैं स्वयं बात करता था कि भाई आपके एरिया में थोड़ी और मेहनत करने की ज़रूरत है। उनको प्रोत्साहन देता था कि इस काम को गति लाइए। मॉनिटर करता था कितना प्रगति कहाँ हो गई है उससे लोगों को रिस्पांसिबिलिटी महसूस होती थी, उस रिस्पांसिबिलिटी के तहत काम आगे बढ़ता था और हर हफ़्ते बुधवार को मैं आपको रिपोर्ट कार्ड देता था कैबिनेट में कि मैंने कितना काम आगे बढ़ाया है।
And I tell you यह गुरु मंत्र पिछले तीन वर्षों में तो मेरे लिए बहुत अहम रहा ही है लेकिन मैं समझता हूँ जीवन भर के लिए एक गुरु ने मुझे शिक्षा दी है कि काम को अगर सफल करना है तो किस प्रकार से सफलता को पाया जा सकता है| और मैं समझता हूँ यही काम जो आप सब अपने-अपने क्षेत्र में कर रहे हैं यह जो आपकी लगन हैं, यही जो आपकी मेहनत है, यही जो आपकी निष्ठा है आपके काम के प्रति वह एक सिर्फ़ टीचर की तनख़्वाह से नहीं तोल-मोल की जा सकती है। यह वास्तव में आपका जो पैशन है, आपका जो उत्साह है जिसके रहते दो हज़ार बच्चे पाँच हज़ार में से 90 प्रतिशत से ज़्यादा मार्क्स लेकर आई.सी.एस.ई, आई.एस.सी एग्ज़ाम में पास होते हैं। मैं समझता हूँ वह जो सैटिस्फैक्शन आपको मिलता होगा वही सही गुरु दक्षिणा होगी आप सब के लिए।
और यह जो हज़ारों की तादाद में बच्चे सिटी मॉण्टेसरी स्कूल से पढ़कर निकलते हैं और देश का नाम रोशन करते हैं भारत में, देश में, विदेश में, अन्य-अन्य क्षेत्रों में, कोई चार्टर्ड एकाउंटेंट बनता है, कोई वक़ील बनता है, कोई डॉक्टर बनता है, कोई राजनीतिक नेता बनता है। यह सब अपनी-अपनी फ़ील्ड में अच्छा काम करते हैं लेकिन उस सब की नीव, उस सब की जो फ़ाउंडेशन है वह तो आप सब टीचर्स ही करते हैं वह तो आप की टीचिंग्स में से ही फ़ाउंडेशन बनती है नहीं तो कौन डॉक्टर क्या कर सकता था जब तक उस टीचर ने उसको डॉक्टरी न सिखाई हो, कौन चार्टर्ड एकाउंटेंट अपना काम कर सकता था जब तक टीचर ने उसको कॉस्टिंग और एकाउंटेंसी नहीं सिखाई हो, कौन वक़ील वकालत कर सकता था या जज बन सकता था जब तक कोई टीचर ने उसको क़ानून न सिखाया हो।
मैं आप सबको नमन करता हूँ आज के टीचर्स डे फंक्शन पर।