Thursday, January 28, 2016

Republic Day!

I had this opportunity to attend the Republic Day Function and hoist the flag at Podar International School, Kalyan (Mumbai) on behalf of Milind Kshirsagar - the founder of Shivaji Trail, Pune. It was an exciting, enriching, enlightening and exhilarating experience all at the same time! The efforts of both, students and their teachers, went into the preparation of all the performances like dances, songs, speeches, skit and gymnastic not only overwhelmed me with their commitment but also made me little worried for the professional approach of making it a flawlessly successful event! All such events of National Importance could do with little less conditioning and a lot more empathizing, I thought!

Anyway, overall it was a great show and I was little concerned whether my Republic Day speech as the Chief Guest would be received well or would it spoil the tempo developed by the enthusiastic young performers? But it was great to learn that all the students loved what I shared and the teachers, staff and guest thought it was a good patriotic speech. The Principal Ma'am went on to praise it as very inspirational and relevant speech and she would like to include it in school's newsletter. Many others were also seemed interested in my speech and hence I thought of publishing it as it is, here...

Respected Principal Ma’am and all the teachers devoted to nation building, esteemed attendees and guests of the event and my dear students – future of my Incredible India, Good Morning!

At the outset, I would like to thank Priya Ma’am for inviting me for this function and providing an opportunity to interact with leaders of tomorrow on the most auspicious day any democratic country would cherish and celebrate – Republic Day of Nation! And why do we need to celebrate it? It’s not just because we celebrate our birthdays but we should celebrate the events of national importance to learn to respect our past. In Winston Churchill’s words – “A nation that forgets its past has no future!”

On 26 January, India was declared Purna Swaraj by the Indian National Congress in 1930 that’s why 26 January was chosen to bring Indian Constitution into force. After 20 years, in 1950 on the same day, the Constitution of India came into force. After its enforcement the Union of India officially became contemporary Republic of India and replaced the Government of India Act 1935 as fundamental governing document. Republic means the supreme power of the people living in the country and only public has rights to elect their representatives as political leader to lead the country in right direction.

So, India is a Republic country where public elects its leaders as a President, Prime Minister and other constitutional positions. In the conclusion of his Making of India's Constitution, Justice Khanna writes - "If the Indian constitution is our heritage bequeathed to us by our founding fathers, no less are we, the people of India, the trustees and custodians of the values which pulsate within its provisions! A constitution is not a parchment of paper; it is a way of life and has to be lived up to. Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty and in the final analysis; its only keepers are the people."

It’s been 66 years we are celebrating this Republic Day! By now we must be very well acquainted with the basic objectives of the constitution which are Rights and Responsibilities. With the outburst of media and rocketing speed of communication made us well aware of our rights but what about the responsibilities? Are we doing justice to this other side of the coin?

There is a lot of discussion and debate going on about a Smart City all around as there would be 100 Smart cities to be developed in India. All of you must have heard about it and some of you might have prepared projects on this concept as well, if I can guess it right. But what is a Smart City or for a moment let’s forget about the City, what is being Smart? Because it is not just the infrastructure or high-tech facilities and gadgets that make any place smart, it’s the people making, using and controlling those smart tools that make it smart. Obviously the user must be smarter than the tool. Just having a Smart Phone doesn’t make you smart, you should be smarter to use it to its potential, isn’t it?

So what is being Smart? Is it about looks? Well, may be a little bit as your appearance is the first impression and you never get a second chance to make a first impression! So let us say we would give 10% to the way you dress, look, walk and talk, what about the other 90%? There are 3 attributes each having a 30% contribution in making any person smart and those are – Asking Questions, Taking Actions and Assuming the Responsibility of the result!

Asking questions is important for you won’t reach anywhere if you don’t enquire about the path. The greatest legendary scientist of all times Albert Einstein used to say – “I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious…!”

Secondly, there is no point in knowing everything but not acting or reacting on anything. The library, and nowadays ‘Google’, has all the knowledge and information in the world but it cannot do anything about it, can it? So the other 30% of acting on what you believe is equally important.

And last but not the least is Assuming Responsibility of the result of your action. If you fail in any exam/contest, it is not because the question paper or the competition was tough but it was because you have not prepared good enough.

Since I only have encouraged you just now to ask questions, you might ask ‘Isn’t it too early for us to think of Responsibilities put on us by the constitution?’ To which I have only one thing to say – patriotism has no constraint of gender, cast, religion or age! A newborn doesn’t take years, months or days to recognize and love its mother. Similarly there is no criteria for start loving your motherland and act accordingly. About 370 years ago in 1645, there was a boy of 16 years of age who took oath of Swaraj by cutting his finger and dropping the blood on the Shivling of the Raireshwar Temple. This gallant boy who went on to become the Great Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj haunting the Moguls in their nightmares and chasing them out of his motherland, had absolutely nothing to fight with the mammoth army of Moguls except his undefeated fortitude and his soldiers (मावळे) having unwavering faith in him.

The only other strength he had to counter the atrocious army of moguls was his FORTS! Shivaji discovered, built and nurtured over 350 forts of various types and a variety of strengths in his small life span of just 53 years. These forts were so dear to him that he regarded them as his children and had all the possible measures in place for excellent upkeep of them. All these forts were central to his empire and their remains are among the foremost sources of information about his rule. He not only relied on the Forts for the protection of Maratha Empire but designed, developed and nurtured them as the mainstay of his rejim to lead a secured life. Foreign Historians like Grant Duff and Douglas have studied, appreciated and regarded forts of Maharashtra as ‘not less than an invention that was the most classic example of an organized effort’. The French missionary Father Fryer witnessed the fortifications of GINGEE, Madras, built by Shivaji after its conquest, and appreciated Shivaji’s technical know-how and knowledge. However glorious and enchanting this history of 400 years stands, the present status of these forts is pathetic and deteriorating so fast that we have a reasonable fear that once the Wealth of the State and Jewels in the Crown of our state, these forts would remain for namesake with the abandoned relics.

To improve the situation and introduce some conservation measures, Milind Kshirsagar, a sports teacher at Loyola School, Pune started ‘Shivaji Trail’ with a mission of ‘Save Forts Save Heritage!’ The first precondition of any Fort Restoration effort is to know the fort thoroughly and this would be possible only when we visit the fort and document it in first place. We at Shivaji Trail are committed to both these activities for about 19 years now and in 16 Trails, we have taken about 1,000 students from different schools of Pune to 157 Different Forts of Maharashtra. We look forward to many more schools of Maharashtra to join us in this expedition of visiting, understanding and preserving our forts, that is our culture and our heritage! 

With an open appeal to all of you to join this initiative that provides opportunity to develop your physical, mental and spiritual strengths and make you a patriotic responsible citizen as expected by the Constitution of India, I look forward to meet you on one of the forts that we are having Durg Pooja on soon. I wish you all the best for leading a responsible life and hope you will live up to the expectations of Constitution that we have conferred upon ourselves on 26th January 1950.

Be Aware, Take Care and Way to go… Jai Hind!

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