ADDRESS AT THE CLOSING CEREMONY OF THE SESQUICENTENNIAL CELEBRATION OF CALCUTTA GIRLS' HIGH SCHOOL, KOLKATA
06-12-2006 : Kolkata
"Emerging woman has a lofty
and knowledge based pride?
I am indeed delighted to be here to participate in the closing ceremony of the Sesquicentennial Celebration of Calcutta Girls? High School. My greetings to the members of the college school management committee, principal, teachers, students and other distinguished guests. I particularly greet the teachers for empowering women through quality education and thereby raising their capacity to contribute to the society. I find that the school students strength has grown from eighteen girls in the year 1856 to nearly 2200 today with 66 teachers and 28 support staff. I am happy to note that the school inspires the students to understand the good values of life. In addition, the Calcutta Girls? High School is running a Hindi medium night school for the poor and needy. Also, they are running a project school in village Nihata about 28 kms. from the city. I would like to share with you some thoughts on "Evolution of Enlightened Women".
Working towards Excellence
I note that the school has generated a large number of students who are working in different areas in many reputed institutions in India and abroad. I am happy to note that a large number of students passing out from this college are taking up teaching as a profession, which is a very good sign for societal upliftment.
Women in Nation Building
In our country, women constitute 48% of the total population. Recently when I was in Himachal Pradesh, Vijaya Sharma of Rajkiya Kanya Mahavidyalya asked me what should be the girl?s role in independent India. I told her that there is really no difference in the roles. They are equal partners in national development.
Now-a-days women are entering in every field. They are becoming doctors, engineers, advocates, teachers, political leaders, administrators, police officials, professionals and they also have joined the Armed Forces. You have all got to get ready to take the responsibility of promoting a noble society.
I would like to share some of my experiences where I have found women performing pioneering work in their area of specialization. I was inaugurating the ?2nd National Conference for Women in Police 2005? on 27th July 2005. There I met Smt. Kanchan Choudhry Bhattacharya, the First women to become the Director General of Police of Uttaranchal. I have seen many of the captains of the commercial aircrafts who are women pilots. In the health care and education sector women are leading. In political field also many women are playing a leading role. In scientific research I have come across Dr Vijayalakshmi Ravindranath, a well known brain researcher, Dr Manju Sharma a researcher in bio-technology, and Smt Rohini Devi who has developed the heat shield system for Agni missile system and now working on composites. They are all doing pioneering work for application of science and technology to human welfare.
On 27th June 2005, the Chief of Army Staff brought the first women summiteers Capt (Ms.) Sipra Majumdar and Capt. (Ms.) Ashwini AS Pawar, who climbed Mt. Everest from the North side, that is from the Tibetan side. I also talked to the women army officers in the freezing temperature at Kargil. I appreciate their courage and perseverance for succeeding in their missions. Dr. Shanta who has been recently selected for Raman Magsaysay award is personally known to me. She was responsible for setting up the Radiation Oncology Department in Cancer Institute and organized the first-ever hospital tumour registry in India. She also established the first paediatric oncology unit. Above all the Nobel Laureate Mother Teresa represents the embodiment of removing the pain of the sufferings. These women who have performed pioneering work in their own area of specialization should become role models for all of you.
Particularly, enlightened women are very important for nation building since their thoughts, the way of working and value system will lead to faster development of a good family, good society and a good nation. Thus, the women in our country have tremendous opportunity for participating in the development of the nation. One of the programmes in which they can make significant contribution is PURA.
Women Engineering college and Rural Development
I had visited Periyar Maniammai College of Technology for Women, Vallam in Thanjavur District of Tamil Nadu and inaugurated a PURA Complex. I thought of sharing with you the developmental concept of a cluster of over 65 villages near Vallam, Thanjavur district of Tamilnadu which involves a population of one lakh.
This PURA complex has all the three connectivities - physical, electronic and knowledge - leading to economic connectivity. The centre of activity emanates from the women engineering college that provides the electronic and knowledge connectivity. Periyar PURA has health care centres, primary to post graduate level education and vocational training centres. This has resulted in large scale employment generation and creation of a number of entrepreneurs with the active support of 850 self-help groups. Two hundred acres of waste land has been developed into a cultivable land with innovative water management schemes such as contour ponds and water sheds for storing and irrigating the fields. All the villagers are busy in either cultivation, planting Jatropha, herbal and medicinal plants, power generation using bio-mass, food processing and above all running marketing centres. This model has emanated independent of any government initiative. The committed leadership has been provided by the Periyar Maniammai College of Technology for Women. This gives me the confidence that PURA is a realizable proposition and this movement can be multiplied by thousands of entrepreneurs, educational administrators and philanthropic institutions with the support of the government agencies. I would recommend Calcutta Girls? High School can undertake creation of a PURA around village Nihata where they already running a project school.
It is recognized that the women education is very important for societal growth. When the women are empowered, society with stability will get assured. We have to ensure the continuity of secondary education and university education for girls. It is essential to establish connectivity between the university and secondary schools. Distance education packages have to be evolved to cater towards women education for reaching remote areas. Periodically, secondary level students should be counseled to continue their education both in diploma and degree level. I am sure that the teachers from Calcutta Girls High School are advising the students to pursue quality higher education after they complete the education from this institution.
When I am in the midst of future women professionals and leaders with an urge to participate in the national movement, I am reminded of Mahakavi Subramaniya Bharatiar, who in 1910 composed the poem envisioning women of India:
This beautiful poem brings out the profile of emerging women. Emerging Women
She walks with raised head,
With her eyes looking straight,
She has her principles,
Unafraid of anybody!
She has a lofty
And knowledge based pride,
Such cultured women,
Don't falter from the chosen path.
She drives ignorance away.
She welcomes the bliss of life.
With learned mind,
This is the Dharma
Of emerging woman.
The dream of the poet, I am sure, has become a reality of life for the students of Calcutta Girls? High School.
Satellite based education
Dear students, I would like to recall an event of launching geo-synchronous vehicle on 20th September 2004. It is a huge three stage controlled and guided rocket system weighing 400 tones. This world class rocket system has put a communication satellite called EDUSAT (Education satellite) in the geo-synchronous orbit. This rocket has capability to inject a satellite of one thousand Kg in the orbit with the velocity of 10.2 kilometers per second. This means speed of the satellite is 36 times the speed of modern passenger jet aircraft. That means, you will be surprised to know, it will take less than five minutes to travel from Delhi to Chennai instead of two and half hours by a jet. Do you know what geo-synchronous orbit is? Geo-synchronous orbit refers to the path of the satellite around the earth at an altitude of 36,000 kilometers in equatorial plane with the same rotational velocity of earth. The satellite now beams the education programmes throughout the day and night. I would recommend the Calcutta Girls? High School to work with Department of Space for getting channels allocated so that the classes being undertaken by experienced teacher of this school are made available to the children in remote rural areas of West Bengal.
SAKSHAT?s Growth Profile
The internet revolution has proved to be a powerful tool for good educational initiatives in the rural areas. An important dimension of the internet potential is the possibility of providing services any time anywhere. Along with this, there is a conscious effort to put the youth as the centre of focus of the education system. Students should be perceived as customers and clients. E-education has to be student friendly. Delivery of services to students is to be considered as a primary function of the national mission in education. Particularly for billion plus people spread across length and breadth of the nation, e-learning should enable seamless access to knowledge and seamless flow of knowledge among institutions, specialists and the needy students. I have recently launched the ?SAKSHAT: One Stop Education Portal? which presently provides free education content to class 11th and 12th students. I would recommend students of this Calcutta Girls? High School can make use of this facility for supplementing the school education. Also, I would request the teachers of this famous institution to contribute for generation of content from class one to class ten. You may like to get in touch with Ministry Human Resource Development for participating in this e-learning programme.
After your successful school career, you will be pursuing higher education and also simultaneously working towards managing homes. The prime traits needed for our future lives will be righteousness. I would like to share with you a hymn, which I have heard in a spiritual place.
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.
It is a beautiful connectivity between heart, character, nation and the world. In a society we have to build righteousness among all its constituents. For the society as a whole to be righteous we need creation of righteousness in the individual, righteousness in family, righteousness in education, righteousness in service, righteousness in career, righteousness in business & industry, righteousness in civil administration, righteousness in politics, righteousness in government, righteousness in law and order, righteousness in justice.
May I once again greet all the participants on the occasion of the Sesquicentennial Celebration of Calcutta Girls? High School and my best wishes to all members success in their mission of promoting value based education to girls of West Bengal.
May God bless you.
Question and Answer Session
Now, I would like to answer some of the questions asked by you.
1. President Sir, we would like to know your views on the empowerment of women after 59 years of Independence ?
- Sana B Aquil, 12th standard
Ans: If your thoughts are towards, women empowerment is indeed comes out of 30% representation in Parliament. I personally feel it is a genuine requirement and all the political parties agree to this at least outside the Parliament. Definitely it will take place in a year or two. Regarding empowerment in education and employment, we are already progressing. By introducing entrepreneurship courses as a part of senior secondary and colleges, we expect more and more women leaders in the industry to emerge.
2. President Sir, what is your opinion on human cloning ?
- Jukta Basumullick - XI
Ans: The human being of today is the result of millions years of genetic engineering and the evolution particularly human minds, hence I believe human cloning should not be done. However, cloning of human organs for repair of organs such as eye, liver, kidney and heart etc. is an important requirement and also stem cell research must be progressed.
3. President Sir, there is a lot of agitation amongst the youth of today regarding the reservation of backward classes- should reservations be done according to caste or according to the income bracket?
- Faiza Rehman ? XII
Ans: I have always advocated increasing the number of seats is the only solution. For example, in many states there are more thirty thousand seats available for engineering, presenting a situation of abundance. Similar situation we have to generate for medicine and management.
4. President Sir, during the National struggle for Indian Independence, the best people were in Politics. Today the youth of the country are not interested in politics. What can be done to re-create that interest?
- Pubali Chakraborty - X
Ans: It is not true. Whenever I ask students what profession you would like to join, atleast 10 persons in a gathering of over thousand say that they would like to take politics. This is apart from their choice for medicine, engineering, law, administration, teaching etc. In the present Lok Sabha the number of MPs below the age of 35 are around 17 and the number of MPs below 40 years of age are 47. The average age of MPs in the Lok Sabha has been reducing. When India is slowly becoming a nation of youth, so would our Lok Sabha be.
5. President Sir, Technology and environmental awareness are equally important. At the same time technology has an adverse impact on the environment in many ways. Your comments on this Sir?
- Camelia Bag - X
Ans: Technology is a double edged sword. It can be used both for development or destruction. For example, nuclear technology can be used for power generating, whereas the same technology can be used for developing weapon systems. It is up to the user to use it for the benefit of the humanity. For example, Today, the technology must be used for converting solar energy into electricity by increasing the efficiency of the solar photovoltaic cells through research. This will definitely improve the environment. Similarly, we can use energy plantation for removing our dependence on fossil fuels.