14 January 2009
“IGNITED MINDS: THE POWER OF THE YOUTH”
is the most powerful resource
above the earth and under the earth.
I am delighted to interact with the students of Kendriya
Vidyalaya. My greetings to all of you. Today, I would like to
talk on the topic
Friends, let me share with you a beautiful expenence
when I visited Greece in April 2007. I was negotiating and
climbing towards Acropolis mountain top in Athens and came
across a group of 150 Greek students. They threw a
spontaneous smile on me, the teachers came forward and
introduced the students. They said, they were very happy to
see the Indian president and that the children would like to
hear from him few words. My mind at that time was thinking
about the great personalities, the land of Greece had given to
the world: Socrates, Plato and Aristotle. The words of Plato
were ringing in my mind when I saw the young students. Plato
brings out that
disproportionate happiness of anyone class, but the greatest
happiness of the whole”,
Similarly, around the same period Tamil poet Saint
That is, “the important elements that constitute a nation
are: being disease free; high earning capacity; high
productivity; harmonious living and strong defence”. We have
to find how we can provide all these elements to the citizens of
every nation on an equitable basis for happiness for all.
With these thoughts, I made up my mind, of what to say
to the students and the youth of Greece. I slowly repeated line
by line, a hymn which I normally hear in Indian spiritual
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.
When the students and the youth repeated with me, the
tOllrists around at the Acropolis also repeated and there was
all round ovations. Then I realized how people from multiple
nations, young and experienced were influenced by the
thought of righteousness in the heart irrespective of their
nationality. You can see how the righteousness in the heart
generates beauty in the character in the human beings and
beauty in the character leads to harmony in the home.
Harmony in the home in an integrated way generates order in
the nation. Of course the order in the nation finally blossoms
peace in the world. The righteousness in the heart is the
starting point for great individual, great family and great
nation and ultimately great planet earth.
Now the question is: How do we inculcate the
righteousness in the heart. In my opinion, there are three
sources which can build a youth with righteousness in the
heart. One is mother, second is father and the third and the
most important is the teacher, particularly primary school
teacher. Also to provide righteousness in the heart to the
young minds, we should have an environment of great
education and a spiritual way of life and spiritual
I would like to put forth to this youth convention that
the ignited minds of the youth is the most powerful resource
on the earth, above the earth and under the earth. I am
convinced that the youth power, if properly directed and
controlled, could bring about transformational changes in
humanity for its progress, meeting its challenges and bring
peace and prosperity. Let us now consider two major problems
the world faces: one is, out of 6.6 billion people, two thirds of
the population lives below poverty line, 50% of the population
do not have access to safe drinking water, above all many do
not have access to quality education. What can the youth of
the world contribute to face the situation? Can every one of
the educated spread literacy at least to five in their life? Can
the youth spread the message of water conservation? Can the
youth come with “out of box solutions” for solving water
scarcity? I have started in my country, what is called Lead
India 2020 movement. It is indeed a youth movement, with
the mission for young students based on the 10 point oath
which I have specially designed.
The ten point oath given to the. youth conveys that the
youth can make difference to the society where they are living
in the areas of literacy, environment, social justice, minimizing
rural urban divide, and work for the national development,
while working hard for an individual goal. I insist that small
aim is a crime. I see the youth development has multiple
dimensions: The youth working hard improving his knowledge
with a career goal, can serve the family, can serve the society,
can serve the nation to which he or she belongs and can serve
the humanity as a whole. All are complimentary. The very
theme of this convention “Man m~ing education” signifies
this hierarchy of evolving youth. Keeping this in view, I have
designed a nine point oath for the youth. We will jointly take
the oath shortly.
Dear friends, I would like to share with you seven unique
events that have inspired millions of lives.
Save or better someone life
While talking about good deeds, I am reminded of the
advice given to Mahatma Gandhiji by his mother. She says,
“Son, in your entire life time, if you can save or better
someone’s life, your birth as a human being and your
life is a success. You have the blessing of the
This advice has made a deep impact in the mind of
Gandhiji, which made him to work for the humanity
throughout his life.
Remove “I” and “Me”
During the year 2003, when I was visiting one of the
Indian states, Arunachal Pradesh, I visited a Buddhist
monastery at Tawang 3500 m. altitude. I was in the Monastery
nearly for a day. I observed a unique situation in all the
nearby villages, where young and experienced radiating
happiness in spite of severe winter’ environment. Then, I
visited the 400 year old Tawang monastery and there I saw
monks of all age groups in a state of serenity. I was asking
myself what is the unique feature of Tawang and surrounding
villages which makes people and monks to be at peace with
themselves. When the time came, I asked the Chief Monk, how
in Tawang villages and monastery, I am experiencing peace
and happiness being radiated by everyone. There was a pause,
the chief monk smiled. He said, “You are the President of
India. You will know all about us and the whole nation.”
Again, I said, “it is very important for me, please give me your
There was a beautiful golden image of Lord Buddha
radiating smile and peace. The Chief Monk assembled nearly
100 young and experienced monks. The Chief Monk and
myself were sitting amidst them. The Chief Monk gave a short
discourse, which I would like to share with you. Chief Monk
said, “In the present world, we have a problem of distrust,
unhappiness transforming into violence. This monastery
spreads: when you remove “I” and “Me” from your mind, you
will eliminate ego; if you get rid of ego, hatred towards fellow
human beings will vanish; if the hatred goes out of our mind,
the violence in thinking and action will disappear; if violence
in our mind is taken away, peace springs in human minds.
Then peace and peace and peace al0!1e will blossom in the
society”. I realized the meaning of beautiful equation for
peaceful life, but difficult mission for the individual is how to
remove the ethos of “I” and “ME”. For this, we need the
education inculcated in the young age as propagated by
In my search for evolving a peaceful and prosperous
society, I got a part answer. My search for real tru th
continues. I visited an ancient Christian monastery in
Bulgaria, where I had a discussion with highly experienced
monks on the message of Tawang. The Monk added that
forgiveness is also the foundation of good life.
Good deed results in good actions
When I visited Ajmeer Sharif where I participated in the
Friday Namaz. Here, the Sufi expert told me that Almighty’s
creation, the man, has been challenged with another powerful
creation of Shaitan. Only good deeds lead to good thinkinl”>’
good thinking results into actions radiating love as
commanded by Almighty.
The message from all these and other spiritual thinkers
IS that there are many ideas and spiritual thoughts which
transcend religions, geographies and time. If only we could
bridge the spirituality among religions and nations, many of
the problems like the gaps between. haves and have nots,
deprivation causing unrest leading to extremism, the
remnants of past animosities and war and several other road
blocks to peace and prosperity can be tackled. I am sure the
global youth will be able to work on this theme for a safe world
that they dream.
Together we will Win
Friends, I would like to share with you an inspirational
experience, which I came across. At a Special Olympics, nine
contestants, all physically or mentally disabled, assembled at
the starting line for the 100 mtr race. At the starting signal,
they all started out, not exactly in a dash, but with a relish to
run the race to the finish and win. All, others except one little
boy who stumbled on the asphalt, tumbled over a couple of
times, and began to
They slowed down and looked back. Then they all tumed
around and went back .every one of them. One girl with
Down’s syndrome bent down and kissed him and said, “This
will make it better” Then all nine linked their arms together
and walked together and finally reached the destination.
Everyone in the stadium stood, and the cheering went on for
several minutes. People who were there are still telling the
story. Why? Because deep down we know this one thing:
What matters in this life is more than winning for ourselves.
What matters in this life is helping others win, even if it means
slowing down and changing our course. I would say that, you
do not have to slow down. Rather by helping difficult areas,
the feed back will make you go faster. If you pass this on, we
may be able to change our hearts as well as someone else’s. “A
candle loses nothing by lighting another candle
I was reading a book called “Everyday Greatness”. I
would like to share one event which is essential component of
our development today. Today, what we need is a leadership
with compassion. Let me narrate one experience which
happened in Mexico.
A riot was raging in La Mesa Prison in Mexico. Twenty
five hundred prisoners were packed into a compound, which
had been built for only six hundred. They angrily hurled
broken bottles at the police who fired back with machine guns.
Then came a startling sight. A tiny five feet two inches, sixty
three year old woman, calmly got into the crowd, with
outstretched hands, in a simple gesture of peace. Ignoring the
shower of bullets, she stood quietly and asked every one to
stop. Incredibly every one did. No one else in the world, but
sister Antonia could have done this. Why did the people listen
to her? All because of her decades of service to the prisoners
by her choice. She sacrificed all her life for the sake of
prisoners lived in the midst of murderers, thieves and drug
lords all of whom she called her sons. She attended their
needs round the clock, procured antibiotics, distributed
eyeglasses, washed bodies for the burial and counseled the
suicidal. This selfless act of love and compassion generated
the respect among the prisoners to control themselves and
urged them to do what she wanted them to do. What a great
message for humanity? We have seen a leader with
compassion is there for even prisoners, but we need leaders
with compassion for the voiceless people of millions in the
Dialogue of Cultures
I would like to recall one incident which commonly
occurs in many parts of my country. I have witnessed this
even t when I was a young boy (10 yrs). In our house,
periodically I used to see three different unique personalities
meet. Pakshi Lakshmana Shastrigal, who was the head priest
of the famous Rameshwaram temple and a vedic scholar, Rev
Father Bodal, who built the first church in Rameswaram
Island and my father who was an Imam in the mosque. All
three of them used to sit and discuss the islands problems
and find solutions. In addition they built several religious
connectivities with compassion. These connectivities quietly
spread to others in the island like the fragrance from the
flowers. This sight always comes to my mind whenever, I
discuss with people on Dialogue of re,ligions. India has had
this advantage of integration of minds for thousands of years.
Throughout the world, the need to have a frank dialogue
among cultures, religions and civi1iza~ions has been felt now
more than ever.
Now I would like to administer an oath for the youth
since the planet Earth is facing many conflicts both natural
and man-made. As a youth, all of you have a responsibility to
work for universal harmony by ironing out all the causes of
conflicts. Are you ready to repeat with me?
Oath for the Youth
1 I will have a goal and work hard to achieve that goal. I
realize that small aim is a crime.
2 I will always be righteous in the heart which leads to
beauty in the character, beauty in the character brings
harmony in the home, harmony in the home leads to
order in the nation and order in the nation leads to
peace in the world.
3 I will work with integrity and succeed with integrity.
4 I will be a good citizen, a good member of my family, a
good member of the society, a good member of the
nation and a good member of the world.
S I will always try to save or better someone’s life.
Wherever I am, a thought will always come to my
mind. That is “What can I give?”
6 I will always protect and enhance the dignity of every
7 I will always remember that “Let not my winged days,
be spent in vain”.
8 I will always work for clean planet Earth and clean
9 As a youth of my nation, I will work and work with
courage to achieve success in all my tasks and enjoy
the success of others.
My best wishes to all the students assembled here
success in their educational mission.
May God Bless You.