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Convocation Address

By Fr. Dr. Thomas C Mathew, Vice Chancellor,Christ University, Bangalore
On the occassion of Convocation of 2012 batch passout on 04th November 2013

 

Let me congratulate all you young people for your wonderful achievement. On behalf of all those who are here let me appreciate you with a great clap of appreciation to all of you who have graduated. I’ am blessed today to be in a garden, a beautiful place of 45 acres as shared by Fr. Antu. It’s amazing to see the beauty of this campus and you the 7th batch. I think it was a few months ago Fr. Antu and your Director K T Joseph visited us in Bangalore and invited me for this programme. Until then, I was not aware of what Sahrdaya institution is? However, I was aware that the Diocese of Irinjalakuda has an Engineering college but not its name. Yesterday I was in Rajagiri Engineering College and would like to inform you that they all have a lot of appreciation for you as an institution and on you graduating students. Further, they keenly perceive that the students from Sahrdaya are the top from a reputed engineering college of Kerala. You have created a wonder for your institution and an institution is created by students like you. It is now well known that you hold the first position among the institutions in the state with a result averaging 89 to 90 % as I calculated it on hearing your result outcome from Fr. Antu. So my responsibility to inform you the 2008- 2012 batch and graduating in 2013 is a period in time when the world is characterized by fast changes. In my belief 30 years ago, I thought, I will always remain as a man of thirty, but time as passed by very fast and I’m sixty today. This I’m sure, the same will happen to each one of you. Hence as time will fly by very fast you need to make the best of the opportunities that come your way. So the point is, as age passes and we are all changing, we have to become old and that is the reality. The fact of life is therefore, how we become creative in the process of thinking in these years will be your responsibility, as you are in the environment of technology; an environment of changing technology that is affecting all aspects of our lives.

Moving on, how many of you by the way are non-Keralites? Let me bring to your attention that I am a proud Keralite from God’s own country but I come from an institution where there is a diverse mix of students from across the country studying on our campuses. So you Keralites when you are going to compete with them, what you gained as grade top ‘A’ or first class or distinction or honors is important but much more than that how you perform in your life with that call for change is what will make the difference.

Next, do you know what percentage of people who graduate are employable in engineering? Do you have any rough idea what this profession is? In my opinion only 30 percent are employable, though, I know you may reach 100 percent employability. However across the country, out of every 100 students who graduate only 30 students are eligible to get appointed in a good job. For that to happen you need good communication, good personality, confidence, street smartness, high mobility, know many the languages like Hindi , English to survive in a country like India.

Recalling my childhood let me tell you, I love the story of Lifebuoy the popular soap of yesteryear. Let me inform you, I still remember as a child my mother used to buy only lifebuoy. It was red in colour and had a phenolic smell. Today I did search for the same piece of lifebuoy in the market but to my dismay, found out that it is no more available. Why has this happened? If you look into the story of the lifebuoy soap this company tried to survive initially with the product but it could not continue and sustain it. As a result, in place of the usual red lifebuoy they have come out with soaps with different colours green and yellow, aromas and perfumes. Why did the company do this? The answer is without doubt they had to adjust to the culture, market system and compete to be equally marketable with Pears, Lux or any top brand of soaps, as marketing became important to survive. Similarly when you are passing out from Sahrdaya you have to live a life in which you have to respond to the ways of the future in a systematic and professional way.

I know you are twenty or twenty one today but fifty years from now you will be seventy or seventy five. It’s a reality I am 100 percent aware all those who are graduating today will see that time too. Hence, it is our responsibility to create the spark of responsibility in you the young people, when facing a technical era and when you are responding to that era the most important thing will be ‘internal quality’. Internal quality means the best practices what you do in the campus, for example as Fr. Antu referred, everyday you meet and join the choir of this institution and pray for about five to ten minutes which in my opinion is a good practice, you have learnt from this institution over the last 4 to 5 years. Now when you move out of this institution, to live in the world how do you take it up?. While taking a look at the great chapel in this campus reminded me of the universities of Cambridge, Oxford, Princeton, and Harvard that have chapels with hardly people going to these chapels. The point of discussion according to Fr. Antu and me focused on the difficulty to blend the spiritual quotient and the intellectual quotient. Students who are intellectually vibrant and strong, getting the grade, ranks felt spirituality was the ‘dull headed people’s philosophy’. However, Fr Antu is convinced to say that there is a change in the campus as everyone here ‘brilliant to average’ in their academics come to the chapel to pray. This I endorse with the fact that on entering the chapel, I have seen for myself two or three students adoring the almighty. Maybe this is because you are in an environment that blends the spiritual and the intellectual component with your emotional maturity and that is why Sahrdaya is unique. The name Sahrdaya indicates that all of you are good hearted people and this should be developed through different perspectives. So what is happening in this campus is unique and you have to nurture this experience for your life. Therefore the first level of quality any educational institution is internal quality, it is given by the campus, your teachers, your dress code, your academic curriculum, all things you have done in this campus that help you develop that internal quality. I strongly believe ‘you are already that’ and ‘you have that’. The next level of this internal quality is what you sustain here is from your ‘family’. You have to mature to the next level, the interface quality. It refers to how you connect your education in Sahrdaya to the place where you are. This refers to how you connect with your parents and industry. Unless you nurture what has happened in this campus through the internal quality through interface quality you won’t grow.

The third quality is future quality. It has started today for all of you. Future quality means ten years from now the education what you gained from this campus of Sahrdaya will help you to sustain. I’m confident and looking into the happiness and encouragement of people like Prof. K T Joseph, Principal, your Executive Director the always smiling Fr. Antu’s, who look into your ‘eyes and heart’ and say that your future is brilliant and is what ‘interface quality’ is all about ‘leading you into the future’. Many may be moving out from here to live in different parts of the world, while this surely happens, how you contextualize this experience is called contextualizing multiple intelligence. Hence we are all blessed with different types of intelligences. It could be special intelligence. It means an engineer who designed the campus should have spatial intelligence, the pilot who lands the flight with another special intelligence; people who work in multimedia, etc. are people with intrapersonal, communication intelligence and so on. Therefore if you are living in Delhi, Bangalore, UK, US the way you interpret your intelligence blending the experience from Sahrdaya’s environment and contextualize to the environment of 2023, 2033, 2043 is future quality. Sahrdaya has given a total environment with qualities like internal, interface, future components, and with these qualities you can do wonders in your life and that is a way young people like you can make a difference. Travelling from one phase to another can happen to a Sahrdayite only by constant reading and updation. Today institutions like us are competing and struggling to survive because students are much more informed than the teachers. Here, Technology is coming to our rescue as professors from Standford and Harvard connect through different courses for 8 or 10 weeks on a site coursera.org available for different courses and in different languages and you need to capitalize on it.

 

 In conclusion as young graduating students you are blessed among the blessed because you study in Sahrdaya which is less in number approximately 1 or 2 % of this type institution in our country. You have the behavioural responsibility to lead the society. I know this is the 11th year of Sahrdaya but soon, a year will come when Sahrdaya will celebrate its silver, golden jubilee and this campus will definitely will be conducting many research programmes. Fr. Antu talking to me mentioned the Diocese of Irinjalakuda can do a lot in leadership and connecting your arts and science college in developing and transforming it into a university which will be creating its own curriculum. At this juncture, may I note that in my experience transformation happens among the teachers and students through curriculum development, interaction and building a generation with real caliber. This Sahrdaya is beautiful, in its own way as it is away from the city and that makes it different. On the contrary, remember it is not the world that you are in this ‘remote end ‘of India with 1.25 billion people. You also must know100% literacy is not education, we may know how to ‘read and write’ but we may still not know how to apply knowledge in practical situations. For this we need high degree of research ability, strong optimism and a kind of philosophy where everybody has to be empowered and nurtured in this beautiful state. Kerala is named God’s own country; therefore create God’s presence and peace in this country through your endeavor and hard work. This institution named Sahrdaya, let it be a ‘Sahrdaya Experience of good heart’, as your crest and emblem states ‘education is dedication’. Live up to that dedication to build the society so that we can make a difference. It was a learning experience for me as I learnt a lot from this institution what ‘great hospitality’ is and more than that ‘the language of the heart’.

 
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