Summary of Talk to the Students of
on their Annual Day on Aug.25, 2000
Education in the 21st century has to be far more broad-based than what it was in the earlier centuries. Particularly at the school and pre-college level, the student should be motivated to study every subject seriously. Usually students tend to think otherwise. A student who wants to go to engineering thinks only of science subjects as important. He tends to be indifferent to the social sciences and languages. A student who wants to go to medical education thinks only Biology is important and sometimes neglects mathematics. Very often some parents also fall into this trap. This is the first advice I want to give to all the students here.
You should be interested in everything equally. If because of circumstances you are weak in a subject you should take extra efforts to improve your performance in that subject. I am telling this because of a fundamental educational need. It will be at least ten more years before you go into the outside world as a full-fledged educated person. What is important then in the outside world cannot be correctly anticipated now. All such anticipations have gone wrong. In these days of very rapid advance of science and technology it is almost impossible to make this guess. In the forties and fifties the most popularly sought after programs were civil engineering on the professional side and physics and chemistry on the science side. In the fifties and sixties it was electrical engineering, mechanical engineering on the professional side and mathematics on the science side. In the sixties and seventies, because of the moon-landing and the breaking of the genetic code it was robotics , mathematics and biology. In the seventies and eighties it was electronics and telecommunications. In the eighties and nineties it was computer science and computer engineering., In the nineties it was Management science. In the twenty-first century it is perhaps going to be Genetic, Genetic engineering and Information Technology. Whatever it be you have to be prepared. Preparation does not mean you have to study all of them.
So this is my second advice to you. Be ready and willing to learn new things as you go into the outside world. Don't think that they can teach you everything you my need to know. There is a Sanskrit saying:
AchAryAt pAdam Adatte pAdaM shishhyas-sva-medhayA /
pAdaM sa-brahma-chAribhyaH pAdaM kAla-krameNa ca //
Meaning, Of all the learning that a student gets, only a quarter of it comes from the teacher; a quarter comes from his own intelligence; another quarter he acquires from his contemporary students and the last quarter only in due course of time!
That is why you must always have a willingness to learn new things. It is this open mind to learn new things that makes students successful wherever they go.
The third point that I wanted to emphasize today is the fact that science and technology is not the end of it. The purpose of education is to create knowledgeable citizens of course but it is also to create useful citizens who will be human enough to be useful to the rest of the society in a respectable way. In other words education has to transform you into a cultured person. Science can only inform you; it cannot transform the animal passions of man into human qualities like compassion, sympathy and kindliness. For this we have to lean back on the age-old values which have been handed down to us for more than 20 centuries. Great people of the world like Socrates and Plato, Yajnavalkya and Sanatkumara, Vyasa and Valmiki, Confucius and Lao-tse, Sankara, Ramanuja and Madhva have handed down to us profound thoughts . You have to imbibe as much of that treasure as possible. For this you have to keep reading.
When you read you have to understand. After you understand you have to be convinced. After you are convinced, you have to follow. In order to do all this you have to have a very sharp intellect. To understand and work in the world of science and technology, information technology or genetic engineering also you have to have a sharp intellect. How do we promote the sharpness of our intellect. By constant use of the intellect we can do it. It should never be allowed to rust. Also divine help can be sought. Indian tradition has the famous mantra of the gayatri imbedded in its culture. You all know it.
Copyright © V. Krishnamurthy January 2007