This is the address delivered by Prof. Bhaskar Ramamurthy, Director, IIT Madras to the gathering assembled at 67th Republic Day celebrations. In his speech, he reminds us to perform our fundamental duties.
Greetings to all those assembled here to celebrate the 67th Republic Day of our country. I wish each and every one of you all the best for the year 2016 and one more fruitful year in the service of our nation.
At the outset, I would like to express my appreciation for the exemplary voluntary efforts of many of our students and campus residents during the recent Chennai floods to provide succor and assistance to those in distress. A lot of relief material was collected and distributed, and many hands reached out to stranded citizens in areas surrounding our campus. I also wish to thank all those who toiled during the crisis to ensure that the campus itself was safe and all essential services were run. Our resilience in times such as this gives us confidence that we can tackle any crisis in the future should one arise.
We are all acutely aware of the fundamental rights enshrined in our Constitution that we gave ourselves 66 years ago. The fundamental duties were added to the Constitution exactly forty years ago, since there can be no rights without accountability, and duties go hand in hand with accountability. Accordingly, our Constitution says that it is the duty of every citizen of India.
- to abide by the Constitution and respect its ideals and institutions, the National Flag and the National Anthem;
- to cherish and follow the noble ideals which inspired our national struggle for freedom;
- to uphold and protect the sovereignty, unity and integrity of India;
- to defend the country and render national service when called upon to do so;
- to promote harmony and the spirit of common brotherhood amongst all the people of India; transcending religious, linguistic and regional or sectional diversities, and to renounce practices derogatory to the dignity of women;
- to value and preserve the rich heritage of our composite culture;
- to protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers and wild life, and to have compassion for living creatures;
- to develop scientific temper, humanism and the spirit of inquiry and reform;
- to safeguard public property and to abjure violence;
- to strive towards excellence in all spheres of individual and collective activity so that the nation constantly rises to higher levels of endeavour and achievement;
- who is a parent or guardian to provide opportunities for education to his child or ward between the age of six and fourteen years.
The last of these eleven duties was added in 2002 to ensure that no Indian child is unschooled. Today we can take some satisfaction that our gross enrollment ratiohasreached nearly 100% at the primary level, even if we have some ways to go at the higher levels of school and college education.
I wish to spend the remaining few minutes focusing on the three fundamental duties that are especially relevant to us at IIT Madras: the duty to strive towards excellence in all spheres of individual and collective activity, the duty to develop the spirit of enquiry and reform, and the duty to protect and improve our natural environment.
The IITs were, and are being, set up to pursue excellence in technology and science research and teaching. As faculty and staff, we are expected to raise our bars high, and strive continuously to teach better, supervise better PhDs, and produce research results that rank among the world’s best. In our quest for knowledge, we are to suffuse ourselves with the spirit of enquiry, never settling for the superficial and shallow, always digging deep till we find the true answers to nagging questions. We are also expected to apply our skills to address through technology the many challenges our nation faces in meeting the needs of her people. As students, we are expected to develop into ethical and capable leaders, job creators, and innovators.
The IITian, student or staff, is the one at whose desk the buck stops – we are never supposed to throw up our hands. Let us ask whether we are measuring up to our own standards, take steps to apply ourselves even harder, and surprise ourselves by outdoing our own benchmarks. I am sure each one of us will find one or more ways this year to better ourselves in our studies, in our research, in our pursuit of technological solutions. The country expects no less.
IIT Madras, as we all know, is privileged to be located in the loveliest of campuses, surrounded by natural beauty. We share our space with lovely animals, and we must learn to do so with grace. It behooves us, in particular, to keep our surroundings clean and tidy. This means that our buildings must be squeaky clean, we must not leave unwanted junk in the corridors and quadrangles, we must not permit our contractors to throw debris in the woods, we must scrupulously avoid littering, particularly plastic, and we must dispose all our waste carefully, specifically the hazardous waste we generate in our labs.
Each of us must apply ourselves in this regard – it cannot be the remit of housekeeping staff alone. In this regard, I am sure you will agree that all of us – faculty, staff and students – have room for improvement. We have taken some steps in this regard in the years gone by, but more remains to be done. I earnestly request you to commit yourself with your whole heart to taking our campus to the next level of cleanliness and safety. I promise you thatit will transform our work and lives as well.
Wishing you all once again a very, very happy Republic Day 2016. Jai Hind!