25TH Annual Convocation of SSSIHL, Nov 22, 2006

Introductory Address by Vice-Chancellor

Sri Anil V Gokak

Most Revered Chancellor, our beloved Chief Guest of the day, His Excellency, the President of India, Dr. A P J Abdul Kalam, Sri Rameshwar Thakur, Governor of Andhra Pradesh, Sri T N Chaturvedi, the Governor of Karnataka, Sri Vilasrao Deshmukh, Chief Minister of Maharashtra, Hon’ble Justice P N Bhagwati, Dr. Ram K Setty and Mrs. Usha Setty, Members of the Institute Trust, Governing Body and the Academic Council, Distinguished Guests, Graduands of the year, and brothers and sisters.

I have great pleasure in extending a warm and cordial welcome to you all to Sri Sathya Sai International Sports Centre, the biggest indoor stadium in the country in terms of space-structure roof, on the occasion of the 25th Convocation of the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning. The huge stadium took only a little more than four months for its completion. Such a rare feat was possible only because of the blessings of Bhagavan Baba. I sincerely thank the Hon’ble Chief Guest Dr. A P J Abdul Kalam, President of India, for having inaugurated this Sri Sathya Sai International Sports Centre. I also express our deep sense of gratitude to our Revered Chancellor, Bhagavan Baba, for this magnificent gift of His to Vidyagiri.

It is  indeed our good fortune that we have in our midst today, a person of the eminence of Dr. A P J Abdul Kalam, the President of India, who is also one of the most illustrious men of our times, as our Chief Guest. The saga of the young man from Coromandal began after he came out of the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited as the Aeonautical Engineer and aspired to join the Indian Air Force and realise his dream of flying like a bird. Destiny, however, took him to the Ministry of Defence where he could not fly the aeroplane, the new bird of science, but could help to make it airworthy. His contribution to develop India’s first indigenous Satellite Launch Vehicle SLV III and the Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme has made him India’s most honoured defence scientist and laid the foundation for the design and development of high technology aerospace projects. He played a key role in the development and operationalisation of Agni, Prithvi, Trishul, Akash and Nag missiles, which have become household names in India, and in weaponisation of strategic missile systems and the Pokhran II nuclear tests. The breadth of his vision, his ability to network multiple institutions, and function not only as a project leader but also as an ‘integrator of people’, have contributed to his success. No wonder, therefore, he is the recipient of the highest civilian award, Bharata Ratna.

The personality of Dr. Kalam, a visionary, is multi-faceted and multi-dimensional. The Technology Vision, 2020, which was prepared under his Chairmanship, has identified the five areas of agriculture and food-processing, education and healthcare, information and communication technology, infrastructure development, and self-reliance in critical technologies, where India has core competence, for an integral action.

The Scientist and the poet in him co-exist. He is fond of Nature and its beauty and admires birds because birds’ flight gives him sense of freedom and pleasure. His poetry also reflects the burning patriotism of a scientist. He asks,

“When will the planes designed in my land
  Pierce the sky as lightning in action
  And gracefully land as angels in full bloom
  All to the envy of spellbound spectators.”

He is a scientist who sees in the fascinating movement of the electrons around the nucleus, the great dance of Siva on earth, during every moment of our existence.

Dr. Kalam has tremendous faith in the power of ignited young minds who are a powerful resource, which is mightier than any resource on the earth, in the sky, and under the sea.

I once again welcome you, Sir, most cordially to this function on behalf of myself and the Institute.

The Institute continues to register consistent progress. The revised curriculum for various disciplines which was approved by the Academic Council last year, has been implemented. The revised curriculum includes inter-disciplinary courses such as Chemistry of Biomolelcules, Biotechnology of Secondary Metabolites, and Biocatalysis for Industry, Medicine and Environment which are offered to students of life sciences and chemistry, and new courses like Economics and Ethics and Geographic Information System. The Humanities Building was blessed by our most Revered Chancellor in August, 2006 and is now being used by the teachers and the taught. The Institute makes full use of information technology. Considerable progress has been made in promotion of research and the number of M.Phil. and Ph.D. scholars has increased from 8 in 2003-04 to 37 in the year 2006-07.

The forte of the Institute, however, lies in the emphasis it lays on Human Values. Our revered Chancellor, the Divine Architect of the system, has always emphasised that the end of education is character. The system provides for the integral development of the student’s personality, and aims at tapping the divine potential within him. The inclusion of a moral class in the time table and a course that teaches inter-faith unity and the five Human Values of Truth, Right Conduct, Peace, Love, and Non-violence are among the important features of the Institute’s system of education. The Degree Certificate mirrors the academic attainment as well as the character and integrity of the student concerned. Our students are the instruments for translating into reality the vision envisaged by the honourable Chief Guest.

The impact of the education imparted at the Institute is now felt in all walks of life, and in all parts of the country. In a recent conference organised by the Institute, a senior executive of a reputed company remarked, that the employees who were educated at the Institute are markedly different from their colleagues, and show a greater sense of team work, and have an exceptionally high degree of integrity. When an examination was being conducted at the campus in Brindavan, the students got up as soon as they received the question papers. The invigilator apprehended that the students wanted to protest against the question paper, but was pleasantly surprised to find that they started chanting their morning prayers!

The Institute thus aims not at the mechanical and colorless transfer of information from the teacher to the student, but the transformation of the students’ personality. I need hardly add that the presence of the Divine Chancellor, the generator and transmitter of spiritual impulses and current, has a tremendous impact on the character of the students. The students in the Institute are like lamps, the receptacles of spiritual current and the teachers have to act like the electric wire that connects the generator with the lamp. Love, the essence of non-duality, is the overarching principle in the architecture of Educare that has been so beautifully carved out by our most Revered Divine Chancellor.

The rise in the incidence of violence all the world over is indeed the crisis of identity, which, in turn, is on account of the identity of the individual with the family, the tribe, a particular race, caste, or nationality. The narrowness of the circle itself limits the vision of the individual, and gives rise to the distinction between the Inner We, and the Outer They, which has to be abolished. The circle has to grow wider and wider, till it ceases to have a circumference. The inculcation of Human Values and emphasis on Educare aim precisely at this circle without a circumference, which reminds us of the dream of the poet who said:

“Be unhoused, Oh My soul,
Only the infinite be your goal.”

Bhagavan Baba’s mission which talks of the religion of love, the caste of humanity, and one God, who is omniscient, is to enable us to realise this noble goal. Prasanthi Nilayam, the abode of the Divine Chancellor, is like the Lake Baikal in Russia, the largest lake in the world, which is the confluence of three hundred and thirty six rivers and from which, only one river, Angara, flows out and joins the sea. Prasanthi Nilayam is like the Lake Baikal where various streams of faith unite. It is here that the Divine Chancellor, with His transforming power, brings about unity among the different faiths. It is from here that only one river, the river of humanity, flows and ultimately merges with the ocean of divinity.

Graduands of the year, I congratulate you all, and wish you all good luck. The Institute believes neither in theocracy nor bureaucracy but only in the God-intoxicated brotherhood of Man. Please leave the portals of the Institute, as its cultural and spiritual ambassadors. Man has, over the centuries, idolized castes, crucified sages, and defiled the holy shrine, which needs to be built up anew. You have a crucial role to play in this noble task. The words of wisdom of the Hon’ble Chief Guest, who is also the philosopher statesman, will act like wings of fire and ignite your souls. The Divine Chancellor, the polar star to the pilgrims of eternity that you are, and will continue to be, will give you the strength and inspiration you need, for your new and adventurous voyage. For, His are the words of power, beauty and strength, and indeed, the keys to immortality.                  

Jai Sai Ram