December 21, 2018

Speaking at Annual Day of DPS Ghaziabad, in Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh

Principal of this very wonderful school, reminding me of my own school somewhat, Ms Jyoti Gupta; my former colleague in the Power Ministry, now your very own district magistrate, Ms RituMaheshwari; Mrs Om Pathak, all the other distinguished members of the board of the society, all the faculty members, teachers of the DPS Ghaziabad School, wonderful parents of the students. I believe we have the 9th standard and the 11th standard students with us today.

Wonderful I call them, because they are freezing in the cold and tolerating both Mr Pathak and me. And the very-very fortunate children of this institute who I am sure will make great citizens of India, who are the future of our great country. My warmest wishes to each and every one of you, and my compliments to this school for preparing such talent in this school that we are going to see each and every one of the 800 children who are participating in this programme in some form or the other in different roles and responsibilities while we celebrate the 39th Annual Day of the DPS Ghaziabad School.

I was just now reading some of the literature that was given to me about the DPS and its origins starting from 1980, and as Mr Pathak described in great detail as I was reading about the different achievements of this school, with almost 40-plus children going into IIT from this institution alone every year, almost 20% of your science intake I believe. And with the amount of achievements, the fact that you have probably one of the largest IB PYP programme, the fact that you have kept your fees moderate despite such expensive curriculum that the IB programme entails, and both my children have done IB, so I can appreciate what that would mean.

The fact that you have such a lovely campus where you are preparing children with sports, with art, with drama, with debate, with elocution, skills and the languages, is truly something to be proud of. And I must compliment you Mr Pathak and your entire team for what you are giving back to society in terms of quality education, and I have no doubt in my mind that each one of your students, not only from the DPS Ghaziabad, but from all the 11 institutes under you now, will all make this country proud, will all make you are your team proud. My best wishes to all of you.

Some of you may have watched that famous popular TV serial ‘Game of Thrones’. In that there is a famous line, ‘winter is coming,’ probably not most appropriate for today, I think winter has already come onto us. But when we look at winter, I don’t know which day it is, the winter solstice. Is it today, tomorrow or day after, one of these three days? Which day? 23rd this year! It varies every year, and I think that’s the shortest day in the calendar year, is that right? Longest night and the shortest day.

What’s the message that that gives us? Time is short and I am sure each one of you would like me also to be brief in my comments, given the low temperature that there is right now. We don’t have a moment to waste in our lives. Children, parents, administrators, we in government, each one of us has a roles and responsibilities cut out for us, teachers, principals. But time is short and we can’t afford to waste a single moment, not that it gives a lot of credit to my ability to manage time, but I actually ran a one-hour meeting in the car coming into this place. And I have a whole load of paperwork that I have to do on the way back.

And for each one of us, we don’t have a single moment to waste in our lives. And I believe with the kind of talent that is being inculcated in each one of you here today, you will get an opportunity as you grow older and older, as you come into the mainstream to put all this talent to good use, some in your workplace, some in your spare time, some as a vocation, some as a extra-curricular activity. And for each one of us, parents also, what you were mentioning Madam about Ritu’s efforts and initiatives on swachhbharat or to clean up the city, or to beautify the city, I think each one of us can also play a role.

It should not be left only to the institutions or the children. I think each one of the parents can also participate, and I am sure with that kind of participation some of the initiatives that the school has taken up can really help. I believe you are very active in the swachhbharat initiative in some of the nearby villages also. I mean I was thinking to myself what I should be talking about. Should I be complimenting you on the Atal Tinkering Lab that you have set up? Should I be reminding you that the world is evolving and Mr Pathak was just telling me he is going to create a platform like Google in the education field. And the world is changing really fast.

There is that famous saying that when the situation changes, when the circumstances change, what would you do? Would you stay rooted in the past or would you evolve and change with the times? At one point of time, 145 years ago, I don’t know some of you may have read it, ‘Around the world in 80 days,’ was it Jules Verne, who wrote about Around the World in 80 days. Today, I think Star Alliance offers it around the world in 80 hours. And that’s the kind of change and that’s the speed of change that we are seeing around the world.

You have artificial intelligence coming, you have robotics coming in in a big way. I don’t know what the future holds for us in terms of power, in terms of manufacturing. Things are changing. The world is evolving. We in the power sector in the last few years have invested heavily in renewable energy, because we do believe clean energy is the need of the hour, is going to be the biggest challenge probably next only to terrorism that we will have to address in the years to come, climate change.

And gone are the days when people would be looking for a sarkaarinoukri, if I may. Gone are the days when I think you should be applying for, necessarily, I mean some of you, if you are cut out for it, please go in for the IAS and all the services. No offence meant to you Rituji or to you Om. But I think the time and age today is one of innovation, one of new ideas, one of entrepreneurship.

I remember the movie 3 Idiots. Look at the investigative spirit that Amir Khan has in that movie. Look at the desire of Madhavan, who really wanted to be a photographer, being forced by parents to get into the engineering field. And then look at that poor child coming from a background where with great difficulties parents are able to send him to school, and his own struggles of life but yet his desire to be a good citizen of this country.

Of course, at the end of the day I don’t want to become a person who is giving a lecture like BomanIrani in that movie. Om did suggest that I could speak in Hindi if I desire, but it stuck my mind कि कहीं कुछ गलती-वल्ती से कुछ शब्द इधर उधर कर दिया और बलात्कार हो गया। तो मैंने सोचा अपनी अंग्रेजी में ही स्टिक करते हैं ठीक रहेगा, relatively कम चांस है गलती करने का।

But I think what we are doing all our life, and I say this to the children who are here and I say this to the parents. We are not only learning, but we are re-learning, and if you want to learn and re-learn, you first have to unlearn also. Sadly, many of us have very clichéd lives, we are leading a very-very routine, a very regular life, a regulated life. What the world today is looking up to India is to provide leadership where we unlearn what we have learnt in the past. We do innovation so that we can lead in the future. And we provide leadership to the world which I think India is destined to do.

Our one billion people today provide the best opportunity for innovation, provide the biggest marketplace for new ideas, new products. And I often tell friends who come from around the world, there is no better opportunity than India to do business in, and there is no better place than India to live in in the 21st century.

Tomorrow, by the way, is 22nd December. It’s the National Mathematics Day. And we celebrate one of the world’s greatest mathematicians SrinivasaRamanujan tomorrow, somebody who came from a very poor background, a very humble background, hardly got any training in pure math, no formal education in pure math. But he was passionate about the subject, and I think the world today very often recognizes India for some of his theorems, some of what he had propagated so many years ago.

And that’s what inspires us, that passion that he had, that yearning that he had for knowledge, I think that is inspirational, that is something that each one of us needs to inculcate, can take forward. And I have no doubt in my mind that some of the boys and girls of DPS Ghaziabad in the years to come will give us that kind of out-of-the-box thinking, that kind of extraordinary performance. And I would believe that a student coming out of this school will probably one day lead the country, lead the largest corporations in the world, become top-notch bureaucrats maybe. And I do hope one of you will become a great politician in the years to come.

And I say this because I am very afraid that politics has become a bad word, and I am very afraid that if the good people of India don’t involve themselves in public life and continue to look down upon politics, it portends a very dangerous situation for the country. Very often when we are taught computers, one of the first lessons that at least I was taught, I don’t know today whether it’s relevant. A computer is somewhat a box where garbage in-garbage out is the philosophy. Now this could be twisted, and I don’t believe there is any press here, is there? Okay, so please edit that. पर समझने वाले समझ गए होंगे.

और दुर्भाग्यपूर्ण स्थिति है कि जब तक अच्छे लोग राजनीति में नहीं आएंगे, जब तक अच्छी फॉडर नहीं मिलेगी राजनीति को तब तक शायद बड़ा कठिन होगा देश में वह बदलाव लाना वह परिवर्तन करना जो कुछ मात्रा में हमने कोशिश की है गत साढ़े चार वर्षों में। तभी संभव है जब आप सबका साथ मिलेगा, तभी संभव है जब आप सब भी थोड़ी कठिनाइयां ज़रूर हुई होंगी सभी को लेकिन there is no gain without pain.

बदलाव आसान नहीं होता है, आप अपने घर में कोई याद करे आपमें से कोई भी महिला, कोई भी बच्चा कभी आपके घर में पेंटिंग किया गया हो। You know when you are painting your home or your office or even painting the school, there are always two ways one can paint your home. One is you can just put a coat of paint on top of whatever is there, the walls will look beautiful, I can assure you. The walls will certainly look beautiful, you put a fresh paint of coat of paint on your walls, and it can be done quickly. Couple of days and the painters are out of your home. Some of us maybe do that sometimes also, but that doesn’t last long. That has its own limited life.

अगर दीवार के अंदर कोई दीमक लगा हो या पीछे का बेस अच्छा नहीं हो तो वह बहुत जल्दी crumble होकर फिर दीवार ख़राब हो जाएगी। अगर पानी आता हो waterproofing नहीं की हो पीछे तो पानी आकर वैसे ही दीवार ख़राब हो जाएगी, पर अगर आपको अच्छी तरीके से पेंट करना है, अच्छी तरीके से लम्बे अरसे के लिए अपने घर को सुधारना है तब आप क्या करते हैं? आप पहले scrap-down करते हैं, you take out the old paint and the old muck. दीमक लगी हो दीवार में तो पहले दीमक को निकालना तो पड़ेगा ना? अगर दीमक रहेगी और उसके ऊपर हम पेंट कर दें तो दीमक फटाफट खा जाएगी उसको, तो आप दीमक निकालते हैं, आप गन्दगी निकालते हो, आप पुराना पेंट निकालते हो। Of course, दीमक को छोड़ भी नहीं सकते हैं किधर फिर जाकर फ़ैल जायेगा, तो दीमक को भी अपने ठिकाने लगाना पड़ता है। गन्दगी को बाहर करना पड़ता है।

आखिर स्वच्छता की जब हम बाते करते हैं तो वह कोई सिर्फ सड़कें साफ़ कर दीं और फुटपाथ साफ़ कर दिया वहां तक सीमित नहीं होता है हमें देश को साफ़ करना है, देश की सोच को बदलना है, देश के काम करने के ढंग को और ईमानदार बनाना है। तो आप दीमक निकालते हो, पुरानी दीवार निकालते हो तो बेस में पट्टी लगाते हैं, पट्टी लगाकर उसके बेस को ठीक करते हैं, फिर पहला कोट, दूसरा कोट and then the final coat जो सुन्दर भी दिखता है, durable भी होता है, long-lasting होता है।

और तभी शायद कोई न कोई आकर कहता है, क्या सुनील भाई, नया घर, नयी गाड़ी, नया रंग, नया घर। उसका यह भी मतलब हुआ न कि हर advertisement को पूरा 100% seriously मत लीजिये। मेरी बात को थोड़ा seriously ले लेना लेकिन क्योंकि ईमानदारी से जब तक अच्छे लोग इस देश को दिशा नहीं देंगे तब तक इस देश की दशा नहीं बदल सकती है।

और मैं समझता हूँ डीपीएस ग़ज़िआबाद जिस प्रकार से हमारी भावी पीढ़ी को तैयार कर रहा है, जो शिक्षा यह लेकर आपके घरों में आते हैं तो मैं समझता हूँ माँ बाप को भी प्रेरणा मिलती होगी अपने बच्चे को बड़ा होते देखते कि कैसे वह समाज में अपना नाम रोशन करेंगे, आपके परिवार का नाम रोशन करेंगे। और मैं समझता हूँ कि युवा अवस्था की एक बड़ी ताकत होती है कि वह नयी-नयी चीज़ों का प्रयोग करने के लिए तैयार रहते हैं।

They are not afraid to try new things, and they are not afraid of failure. In fact, I often tell children who are at the cusp of starting their career that often it’s good to fail, because it prepares you better for the future. In fact, I don’t know if any of you is aware, Abraham Lincoln went bankrupt several times. He failed in business several times. He lost several elections. And the only time he won an election was when he fought for the President of the United States of America.

So, failure is not a bad word. Failure is only a foundation which prepares you for a better future. In fact, Harry Potter, the author JK Rowling, her books were rejected 12 times before the first book got accepted and the rest is history. Probably, I was little older by the time Ms Rowling came out with her books, but I think all the children here at some time or the other would have read the Harry Potter series or seen it on television.

For that matter, Walt Disney was not given a job in a newspaper, and the reason given was that he lacked creativity. And the rest is history. So, to my mind, the only lesson that I can leave behind for all the children here is to never be afraid of trying, never be afraid of failure, but give it your best and chances are you will never fail. And sometimes in our youth we come across some experiences that have a very lasting and inspirational impact on our lives.

I was privileged to recently see this small movie. It’s a 30-minute movie. I don’t want to politicize my visit here, but I genuinely believe that if the children see this small, kind of a documentary, Chalo Jeete Hain. It’s about a small child, Naru, and the experiences of his childhood, and a short period, a week or 10 days in his childhood, very nicely capturing his family background, the problems in his home, the problems in his school. And how that period of his life, probably 10-12 years old gave him that spirit of empathy which then lasts a lifetime.

In fact, this book that I had the opportunity to share with some of your students, the Exam Warriors, also comes out of the spirit that we should not stress our children too much. Let’s not stress them for ranks and accolades. Let them not be afraid of the exam. Let them enjoy their studies, let them enjoy writing an examination paper. Let studies be more joyful, let studies be a part of life that one looks forward to.

I have registered at the management school in 2013. Of course, I could only do one module out of three at the Harvard Business School, so I am technically still a student there. I am going to go back whenever I get an opportunity to complete the rest of the two years, and the Dean of the school was with me about two weeks back, and he’s told me your place is still there, you are welcome to come back to college.

But I believe even at my age, I need to go back to school to learn. I need to, as I said earlier, relearn, and to my mind, our whole life we are going to be students learning newer and newer things. And I didn’t know the ‘P’ of power when I became Power Minister and Ritu and all must have laughed at some of my innocently stupid comments. When I got into the railways, it was a nightmarish beginning. Renewable energy is something I had never experienced, I didn’t even know what an LED bulb looks like or what is the difference between an LED bulb and a incandescent bulb.

So energy efficiency, other than the mother scolding you if you don’t switch off the light and fans when we were young, I don’t know if parents do that anymore. But at least in our childhood, energy saving was an integral part of growing up. But I think all of these things are where you get an opportunity to learn and I do hope each one of you will do that all through your life.

You have kept Shivaji’s play today, I don’t know whether I was invited, because Shivaji was going to be presented or is it a happy coincidence. But I must say the children who perform and I come from Mumbai, I have been seeing the plays on Shivaji all through my life, they were absolutely brilliant. You could actually sense the Marathi flavor in their dance. The movements, the entire ambience that they created was absolutely typical Maharashtrian, coming in from the times of Shivaji and my compliments to the teachers who prepared them to all the students who performed.

And just like Shivaji’s mother, Rajmata sahib had said to Shivaji that keep a single-minded focus all through your life, free this country from the Mughals and like Arjuna work with full dedication to achieve your goal. Defeat the Mughals, give India freedom and the work that Shivaji did probably created the largest empire that anybody ever had in the world, freed large parts of India from tyranny. I think just like that the education and the opportunity that we all have to be good citizens to do good for this country I am sure will hold all of us in good stead.

In conclusion, I want to throw a thought with all of you. And Omji, I would like you and your management team to reflect on it. Over the last three or four years, we have focused very deeply on dignity of women. Very often, many people undermine the importance of giving a free cooking gas connection to the poor of the country, probably we don’t appreciate it, because we are used to it. It’s a part of our daily life.

Probably, all of us have gas connections in our home, piped or LPG cylinders. But for a poor woman who is taking in 400 cigarettes every day, it’s a boon. Similarly a toilet, two out of three women in this country could not use a toilet between sunrise and sunset in our own country. And I think there can be nothing more shameful for all of us than the fact that 65 years after independence two out of three women did not have a toilet in their home, had to literally wait for sunset before they could.

We are happy and proud that from a 34-35% coverage of sanitation, today India stands at 95% sanitation. And in the next few months, we will have 100 percent homes having a toilet, providing dignity to our sisters and mothers, obviously, to the rest of society also.

I don’t know whether you realize how important it is to have electricity because all of you are privileged to have electricity in your homes. But there were 300 million people in this country deprived of a basic thing like electricity where children had to study under kerosene lamps. And Ritu has, Ms Maheshwari herself has been an integral part of the plans and the successful effort to take electricity to every home. By March 2019, every single home in this country will have electricity, giving dignity to our children who otherwise are deprived of this kind of basic amenity.

I hope that we have this opportunity and all of you will participate in this opportunity that by 2022, every citizen of this country has a home, a shelter, roof on his head, with 24/7 electricity, cooking gas as a cooking medium, a toilet in the home, a road leading up to his village, to his home, quality education, digital connectivity, good healthcare facilities around him.

But in all of this, there is still one thing missing which I want to leave behind as a thought for all of you, particularly, for the parents here, for the educational institutes here, and for you Ritu. Can we collectively ensure that every lady, every girl, every lady who needs sanitary pads will be, we will ensure that every lady, every girl in Ghaziabad maybe, where you are all from, will have the facility to get sanitary pads at an affordable price. Those who can afford it will help somebody who cannot afford it get a set for the year. I believe the cost is down to now Rs 1.75 per pad, typically we will need about a 100 at best for a person in the year. Some of it can be subsidized, some of it the cost will come down with economies of scale.

Ritu knows she can share with you, we have done it very successfully in our LED programme, where because of honest procurement and economies of scale where against buying less than a million a year the country now buys 300-400 million LED bulbs every year. And because of that huge scale and honest procurement, the cost came down by 87 percent, which has made LEDs an affordable thing, a household thing for everybody here.

Can we ensure, and can Ghaziabad be the laboratory which ensures it, the first district that every woman, every girl who requires it, we will make sure that it reaches them at an affordable price. For those who can’t afford it, can it be organized through CSR and other support systems. And can we make Ghaziabad the first district, Ritu challenge for you, a lady district magistrate here, that we will make sure that no woman in this district has to use paper, has to use old cloth or any of that. A lot of this causes disease, causes a lot of harmful health problems.

And I think if we collectively work towards it, probably in three or four months we can actually reach out to all the villages, reach out to all the smaller towns and make Ghaziabad a proud place to live in, the face of an emerging new India that cares for its women that cares for its girl child and really makes the dream of each one of us here to see a resurgent India, to see a powerful India, to see an India that is holding its head high in the comity of nations emerging. And let Ghaziabad throw the first challenge to the rest of the country with achieving this small target that I am leaving behind for all of you.

Once again my best wishes to all the students, to all the parents and to your school, thank you very much.

Next Speech

December 18, 2018 Speaking at Agenda Aaj Tak

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