25TH Annual Convocation of SSSIHL, Nov 22, 2006
Convocation Address by Chief Guest
His Excellency Dr. A.P.J.Abdul Kalam, President of India
You are what you are because of society
I am indeed honored to deliver the 25th convocation address to the members of Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning (SSSIHL) in the presence of Sri Sathya Sai Baba in this divine environment. My reverence to Baba and greetings to Vice-Chancellor Dr. A.V. Gokak, Professors, faculty members and staff who have been responsible for shaping not just graduates but human beings with great value systems drawn from our civilization heritage. At this point, I would like to quote a message from Baba “today people think that spirituality has no relationship to mundane life and vice versa. This is a big mistake. True divinity is a combination of spirituality and social obligations. National unity and social harmony are founded on spirituality. It is the divine that links spirituality and social existence.” Dear graduating students, when I see you all, how fortunate you are, getting full-fledged education with two components: the combination of learning which will make you a life-long learner and the value system derived from Prasanthi Nilayam presided over by Sri Sathya Sai Baba.
Uniqueness of SSSIHL graduates
Every year, 3 million graduates are graduating from 300 universities with about 17,000 colleges affiliated to them in our nation. I realize today, that 418 graduates from Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning are getting ready to enter into the world. Also during the last 25 years, over 8500 graduates have joined many organizations from this institute in various parts of the country and the world. What is the uniqueness of these graduates? I was asking myself. I have visited this university number of times and interacted with students. I have also addressed the 21st convocation in 2002 in the presence of Sri Sathya Sai Baba. For me, it is indeed a birth of a truth that the graduates of this Institute with the education edifice grounded in the value system of this divine campus will always shine as life long learners. Above all friends, you are blessed with a divine environment which flows from our civilization heritage creating a value system that you will cherish throughout your life. During your education period, apart from this divine environment what you have, the great teachers you have, you also have seen pain and sufferings, in many villages around the institute which is a learning process for you to fulfill your social obligations. That means you have imbibed the combination of spirituality and social responsibility as propounded by Sri Sathya Sai Baba during your prime education period. Since, Prasanthi Nilayam transforming into a spiritual meeting place and Baba himself during discourse provide many examples of great lives, of great human beings from different religions and graduation from religion, spirituality Sri Sathya Sai Baba is spreading, I would like to refer to you young friends, a story what my father gave me when I was a high school boy about the life of Imam Ghazali on how to win the divine goodness in the difficult and tempting circumstances.
Purpose of human life
The purpose of human life is beautifully described in “Bhagawat Gita”. In the battle scene, where Arjuna was hesitating to fight against his own kith and kin in Kurushetra, Lord Krishna showed Arjuna a vision of Vrindavan where the whole garden was blossoming with beautiful flowers and fragrance and the flowers attracting honeybee. It was an enchanting scene. In another vision of the garden all the flowers which blossomed in the morning had now fallen on the ground. Lord Krishna says to Arjuna , "See the flower, how generously it distributes perfume and honey. It gives to all, gives freely its essence. When its work is done, it falls away quietly. Try to be like the flower, unassuming despite all its qualities". Lord Krishna conveys this message to the humanity. This characteristics is being imbibed in every student of this institution and they follow in all their areas of work. I would like to share some of the experiences of students who graduated from this institution and working in different parts of the country:
Leadership quality: Respect, hear and solve the problems at right time
I recount the case of a MBA student from the Institute, Jasti Vamsee Krishna, who was deputed to Jalgaon District Milk Producers Co-operative Milk Union Ltd. as Head of Sales and Marketing functions. It had, what was said to be the strongest among the Milk Unions. Working hours stretching from early morning to late-nights, he now had to manage a team of people some of whom were the strong union leaders in the organisation. Vamsee’s success laid in effective management even of the toughest personalities. This stemmed from his love for humanity, and skill in recognizing, and rewarding, outstanding performance even among “difficult” personalities. Vamsee’s contribution to enhancing performance and productivity of the cooperative was by humane, ethical dealing of people with strong views. He heard them patiently, discussed with them with reason. Whenever he found truth in it he found solutions and nurtured peace purpose and hard work amongst all.
Righteousness Protects the Righteous
Here is another example of Sai Alumni, Sri Vidyadhar, Director of Lotus Energy Systems based in Bangalore, this time from an altogether different setting in the corporate world. The case being illustrated how high standard of ethics in financial negotiations for providing sound proofing equipment for a large genset (power generator) room for one of India 's most prominent home-grown IT giants.
His company was short listed as being technically best suited for the job. The price was the only criterion that was against them. Because of higher technical standards, Sri Vidyadhar could not offer a lower price, and he perhaps felt that it was in the buyer’s interest to uphold quality when the price difference was relatively small. Above all, he defended only his company’s product performance and the quality was his focus rather than belittling the competitor’s products.
But the product performance of the company and his supporting arguments and the behaviour had all the potential of the winner and it was focused. The buyer became reflective then asked curiously, ‘What is your philosophy in negotiation?’ I didn't quite know what to make of it or what to say.” Then Sri Vidyadhar, said the first thing that came his mind “…do your best and leave the rest, if it has to happen, it will. That is our philosophy. ….‘ When the buyer asked “…and if it means that you lost the order?” he replied spontaneously Dharmo Rakshathi Rakshitha (Righteousness Protects the Righteous) that also reflected his company’s ethical standards.
Because of his high standards of ethics, his company lost the contract even though it was needed for their very survival. Then, a year or so later, something very interesting happened. Out of the blue he got a call from the buyer. They had a plan for a TV broadcast studio that needed acoustics for the project, something they had not done before.’ ‘But can you do it?’ he asked and the buyer was eager to deal with Sri Vidyahar’s company. He immediately said, “Yes”,
From that day on, his company has done a great deal of work for the facilities infrastructure of this one company across the country without ever having to sit across the negotiation table again. The buyer after his earlier experience buying soundproofing equipment for his large genset made him realize that he should have accepted his Sri Vidyahar’s offer because the later had upheld the truth that their product had a higher quality. That event changed the buyer’s outlook and the fortunes of both companies turned upwards, for they were truthful in their dealings with each other. This ethical conduct of Sri Vidyhar transformed the whole outlook on life of another person and organization.
Leadership changes the course
The third example of human values in professional life is that of Sri Venkatesh Prasad, who is currently the CEO and Director of Trayee Impex Pvt. Ltd., has a similar life experience.
Venkatesh, in his previous work assignment, was given independent charge of a loss-making unit in the business group and was assigned the task of reviving it. He was also given a free hand to change any of the staff so as to turn it around and attain profitability. At the end of two and half years, Venkatesh says, “We had turned profitable, repaid all the outstanding loans to banks and had declared a dividend for the first time in two decades. To cap it off, we had a very healthy bank balance. Throughout this phase, I did not change any of the staff or the workers.”
So how did he achieve this feat? Venkatesh gives a revealing instance.
“One of the key personnel I was involved with was an accountant who was over sixty. He had retired from service but I asked him to continue in order to help me tide over the crisis. I valued his experience and treated him with a lot of respect. I trusted his ability in spite of his age.” But at the same time, from an organizational point of view, Venkatesh ensured that a second line was in place and that the older man’s presence did not discourage the young employees, so the company was in no way disadvantaged.
One evening, months later after the company had its turn around, when Venkatesh was sitting across from the accountant’s desk, the older man stunned him to silence when he said, “Sir, thank you very much”. There was a smile of satisfaction on his face and continued, “You have behaved in this way because you are a Baba student”. Venkatesh was dumbstruck. “In all those years, I never mentioned to any of the staff in the unit about my academic background or Swami. I was amazed. I didn’t know how to respond.”
These examples illustrate how the Prasanthi Nilayam environment has inculcated self-confidence in their students that wherever they go they uphold human values. That is why Swami says,
Where there is Confidence, there is Love; where there is Love, there is Faith; where there is Love, there is peace; where there is Peace, there is Truth; where there is Truth, there is bliss; where there is Bliss, there is God.
Human Indomitable spirit has a blessing of Almighty
Imam Ghazali was a saint teacher lived in the 12th Century. My father narrated me a scene when Imam Ghazali has been tested by Shaitan, the transgressed Angel. One day Imam Ghazali was unfolding his prayer mat for Maharif Namaz. At that time, the Shaitan appears in front of him and said, “Respected Imam Sahib, I am just now coming from heaven where there was a discussion about great human beings and you have been judged as the best human being living on Earth. As a recognition of your great stature you have been exempted from the trouble of performing Namaz in future. Imam Ghazali was restless as the Namaz time was approaching. So he looked at Shaitan and said, “Shaitan Sahib, first of all performing Namaz is not a trouble at all and when even Prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him), was not exempted from performing Namaz five times a day, how can a poor Imam like me be exempted?. Thank you. He went on to perform the Namaz. When he completed the Namaz, Imam Ghazali still saw Shaitan was standing. Imam Sahib asked him what he was waiting for. Shaitan said, “O Imam you have excelled even the most favoured Prophet Adam, who could not win over my deception and I made him to eat the forbidden fruit. Realizing that Shaitan was flattering Imam Sahib prayed to Allah, Oh almighty, help me and save me from the deception of the flattery making a disappointed Shaitan finally disappear. His mission failed. But one of the great human being succeeded. Friends, what is the message? When you are studying in this campus of Prasanthi Nilayam, no Shaitan and no devil in all your lifetime should deceive you with flattery. You will certainly defeat the Shaitan and succeed in your missions in life. Learning results into good citizens with social consciousness. The science and technology environment in which you live, will take to you towards knowledge society. I would like to share with you the typical technological profile that awaits you in the future.
Convergence of Technologies
From the university website, I found that SSSIHL is attracting faculty members from many parts of the world. This resource can definitely be utilized for providing courses to the students in the emerging field of “Convergence of Technologies”.
The information technology and communication technology have already converged leading to Information and Communication Technology (ICT). Information Technology combined with bio-technology has led to bio-informatics. Now, Nano-technology is knocking at our doors. It is the field of the future that will replace microelectronics and many fields with tremendous application potential in the areas of medicine, electronics and material science. When Nano technology and ICT meet, integrated silicon electronics, photonics are born and it can be said that material convergence will happen. With material convergence and biotechnology linked, a new science called Intelligent Bioscience will be born which would lead to a disease free, happy and more intelligent human habitat with longevity and high human capabilities. Convergence of bio-nano-info technologies can lead to the development of nano robots. Nano robots when they are injected into a patient, my expert friends say, it will diagnose and deliver the treatment exclusively in the affected area and then the nano-robot gets digested as it is a DNA based product and there are many more applications. The Convergence of Technologies will lead to creation of World Knowledge Platform.
World Knowledge Platform
During my visit to Singapore, Philippines and Republic of Korea early this year, I have put forward the concept of “World Knowledge Platform”, which will integrate the core competencies of the partner countries to develop knowledge products. This platform will enable joint design, development, cost effective production and marketing of the knowledge products in various domains based on the core competence of partner nations to international market.
Initially, the mission of World Knowledge Platform is to connect and network the R&D Institutions, Universities and Industries using fiber broadband from the partner nations on selected R&D Missions. The underground fiber cable infrastructure already exists between the many partners. It is only waiting to be lighted up with state-of-the-art optical networks and to ignite the minds of the knowledge workers. This knowledge GRID will support multitude of seamless connections supporting both synchronous and asynchronous communication, carrying either text or audio or video. We can then use this network in the academic environments to teach courses online and share expensive equipments remotely. In the Industrial environment, it can be used to design complex systems – even ones that are as complex as an aircraft in a collaborative way using virtual prototyping concepts in the cyber space.
Missions of World Knowledge Platform
The “World Knowledge platform” will take up the missions, in some of the areas given below, which are of utmost urgency to all of us to make our world a safe, sustainable and peaceful and prosperous place to live:
- Energy: exploration, storage, production and conversion
- Water: treatment, sustainable use, efficiency in use and minimal utilization for maximum use, desalination
- Healthcare: Diagnosis, drug delivery system, life long care.
- Food: preservation, storage and distribution
- Knowledge products: Hardware, Software and Networking Products and user interfaces.
- Automobile: Hardware and embedded software integration, assistance in transport system through GPS.
- Healthcare: Gene Characterization, Stem Cell research and molecule to drug towards the diagnostic and treatment of the diseases like Cancer and Diabetics.
- Traditional medicine: Herbal and natural products, sharing experiences with modern bio products.
In short, the Knowledge Platform would be launch pad for many innovations that are waiting to be unearthed only by the combined power of multiple nations. Since many devotees of Swamiji are spread in different in parts of the world, world knowledge platform will provide a common medium for all of them to converge and work.
Conscience is the light of the Soul that burns within the chambers of our psychological heart. It is as real as life is. It raises the voice in protest whenever anything is thought of or done contrary to the righteousness. Conscience is a form of truth that has been transferred through our genetic stock in the form of the knowledge of our own acts and feelings as right or wrong.
A virtuous and courageous person can alone use the instrument of conscience. He or she can alone hear the inner voice of the soul clearly. In a wicked person this faculty is absent. The sensitive nature of his / her conscience has been destroyed by sin or corruption. Hence he or she is unable to discriminate right from wrong. Those who are leading organizations, business enterprises, institutions and governments should develop this virtue of the ability to use their own conscience. This wisdom of using the clean conscience is being provided to all the students of SSSIHL.
Giving drinking water to millions of people for hundreds of villages, conducting 15,000 open heart surgeries successfully, giving higher level of education with value system, and above removing the pain of people psychologically and physiologically with heavenly blessing and modern medicine is indeed a divine mission. Baba is spear-heading this great God’s mission wordlessly. We pray Almighty for his divine service.
Once again let me congratulate all the graduating students of Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning for their excellent academic performance. My best wishes for success all the members of Sri Sathya family in their mission of promoting value based education to the youth of this country.
May God bless you all.