அறிஞர் அண்ணாவின் ஆங்கிலப் பேச்சு

Annamalai Convocation Address
Arignar Anna

(Part 1)

Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4

Mr.Chancecellor, Mr. Pro-Chancellor Mr.Vice-Chancellor, Graduates of the Year and Friends:

Thankful as I am for the unique honour conferred on me by this institution, it is not without hesitation as(? and ) a good deal of trepidation that I stand before this august assembly to-day to deliver the Convocation address, for though it is a pleasure to be present on the happy occasion of greeting the graduates of the year and wishing them all a bright and prosperous future,it is not an easy task to place before them appropriate guidelines. – Conscious as I am of my own limitations and aware of the eminence of those who stood at this Rostrum in the past and gave weighty and worthy advice to the graduates. Stalwarts in various walks of life, scholars of erudition and experience, administrators of rare abilities, have all been here to deliver instructive discourses, and I do not for a moment imagine that I have the capacity to add any thing substantial to what has been already said by those who preceded me. I am convinced therefore that to be called upon to deliver this address is not so much an invitation as a command to me to bestow the most careful and considered thought on the role of Universities in general and of the Annamalai University in particular.

The fact that I am conscious of my own limitations gives me a sense of relief, for I shall not attempt to offer original ideas or theories with a special stamp, but only reiterate some of the cardinal principles enunciated by those who offered their advice in past years, perhaps with annotations here and there, bringing to bear the lay-man’s point of view to the findings of experts in various fields connected with education.

This is the age of the common man-whatever the regrets some might have –and it is his point of view that matters most and I do claim to represent him in all his ruggedness.

Systems and schools of thought, whether it is in philosophy or politics, ethics or economics, are certainly meant for him. Of course, the interpretation should come from scholars and experts and the art of translating them into every day activity is to be undertaken by the administrators. Universities, as the repositories of knowledge and the nursing ground for the emissaries of thought wisdom and service , have got a prominent role to play-and the prominence is growing every day, as more and more individuals get themselves equipped for the task of bettering society in all its age when we have eschewed monarchy and autocracy and have inaugurated the era of democracy.

During the monarchical or feudal days, Universities had to train scholars and poets to adorn the chambers of royalty or the gilded mansions of Lord and nobles and their wisdom was meant for the mansion, not for the market place. Those were days when numbers did not count, nor were eminent scholars asked to face the problems confronting the masses. They were content to work in secluded spheres, far from the din and noise of the common man and weave the costly fabric of philosophy of poetry which in turn was to be converted into dazzling garments for the select and the privileged.

The role of the University to-day is not cloistered and confined as in the past. Its function has been enlarged-not in its fundamentals but in its domain. It has to take into account the commonness, but to trim and train, guide and lead him, before being asked to do his duty as the citizen of a democracy-a task which kindles sweet hopes but which demands, patience and perseverance, faith and confidence, - faith in himself and in others and confidence in his inherent ability to shoulder the responsibilities. The common man has become the birth place of a potential ruler and the duty to-day, the responsibility to-day of the universities is to fashion out of him an individual fitted and equipped for the task of making democracy fruitful and effective.

I said that the duties and responsibilities of Universities have grown in dimension and scope, but pointed out that the fundamentals remain unaltered and these fundamentals are of permanent value and of perennial interest. The supreme task before the University is to give those who seek a vision of knowledge in its true proportions and perspectives, to maintain the sovereignty of ideas and ideals in the world. A balanced mind, the ability to discriminate between what is merely trivial and what is important, the capacity to look at a problem from all its angles without fear or favour, to be tolerant of the other man’s point of view. these are fundamentals which are unalterable and it is only the universities that can provide society with a continuous stream of men and women endowed with these qualities.

While addressing the university of Brussels, Dr.S.Radhakrishnan, our former president, made the following statement:

“for its proper functioning democracy requires more qualities than other forms of government. It is in the universities that we can develop the true spirit of democracy, appreciation of other’s points of view and adjustment of differences through discussions. It can be kept healthy and strong by the exercise of individual responsibility and judgment. In universities we have to re-call the struggles of the past and realize the perils and possibilities, the challenges and opportunities, of the present.”

Democracy is not a form of government alone –it is an invitation to a new life-an experiment in the art of sharing responsibilities and benefits-an attempt to generate the common task. Hence we cannot afford to waste a single talent, impoverish a single man or woman or allow a single individual to be stunted in growth or held under tyranny and the universities should through the graduates it sends forth year after year, annihilate the forces that attempt at aggrandizement and tyranny, fight against cant and hypocrisy and enthrone human dignity.

Graduates of the year, I wish you all a prosperous future - for, after all, the immediate concern of every individual, graduate or no graduate, is to acquire the means for a decent living. That is the first motivation for all human activity and no one can ignore it, but that ought not to be the sole objective. Something higher and nobler than mere individual material advancement is expected of you – for remember that this University education is a privilege that you enjoy, for which you are deeply indebted to the community of which you are a member. Most of the money needed for maintaining institutions of higher education come from the revenues collected from the community through the State, and a good proportion of that revenue comes from the tillers and the toilers, men who did not enjoy this privilege, men who willingly submit themselves to discomfort, so that they can enable the next generation to lead a better life. Graduates of the Annamalai University, may I ask you, how areyou going to repay – what is to be your contribution to the social chest on which you have drawn so largely. Unless you replenish it richly, coming generations will find only an empty coffer. Your superior education increases your responsibility to society and therefore, apart from or along with your own individual advancement, society has got a right to expect an adequate return from you – not so much in terms of money as in terms of service – in toning up society, in bringing light into the dark alleys, sunshine into dingy places, solace into the afflicted, hope unto the despondent and a new life unto every one.

That this is a welcome and worthy ideal none would dispute, but not every one will come forward to translate that ideal into action – and yet our ancient as well as modern thinkers have all stated in unmistakable terms that wisdom is manifested in action.

Unless service is the outcome, the sermons become sweet nothings. As Jefferson stated, “We must dream of an aristocracy of achievements arising out of a democracy of opportunities”

And when I seek your help and co-operation in the supreme task of serving society, please do not wink and smile and say, it is all so easy to say. I am not unaware of the difficulties in the way, nor am I going to brush aside the influence of the environment on you. May be, the world in which you are to begin the journey is one which will dim your hope, disturb your determination. You may come face to face with the unpleasant sight of practices widely differing from the principles inculcated in you. You may find self-seekers enthroned and the patient worker decried. Tyranny of all sorts may stare at you and every step you take will be a struggle. I admit that the environment is such that even people with robust optimism will be discouraged and forced to take to the path of ease and comfort.

But, we should also realize that a continuous stream of men and women endowed with the spirit of service have been carrying on the crusade successfully and have conferred rich benefit on humanity.

Continued . . .
Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4

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