Chief Guest at Swamy School

Annual Day talk on Jan 26, at Swamy School

This is what I thought I spoke at the Swamy School’s Annual day function on 26th Jan where I was the chief guest and gave away the prizes as well.

Career beyond MELA

I am very happy to be here this evening at your school, the Swamy School. I admire your founder, Mr. P Muthuswamy, who had the courage and the vision to set up a school, which at that point in time was so far away from the heartland of the city. I must congratulate your correspondent, Mrs. Brinda Venkataraman, who showed the perseverance to fulfill her father’s vision and to bring the school to where it is today. I was told that your school student got the State 3rd rank at the Class XII exams. I must congratulate your principal, Mrs. Jaya Chandrasekhar, and her team of teachers who have made this happen. I guess the management of your school has a vision for the future; a future where they extensively use technology in education, thus making education that much more exciting. Perhaps there is a plan to emerge as a school of excellence and at some point a college of higher learning.

Now, let me turn to you kids. I must confess that I have never spoken to an audience of your age. The closest I came to doing that was when I addressed students of Class IX to XI at GSIS, Ooty. That was of-course a different context and a different setting. I propose to talk to you about 5 things.

Let’s start with what you want to achieve in life. A for Achieve.

I am sure that some uncle or some aunt would have been tirelessly asking you about what you plan to do after class X or after class XII. Someone must be suggesting that you study Medicine and become a doctor. It’s a great profession. It’s the one that comes closest to being the profession of God. Some of you may want to become engineers, those who build our roads, our factories, our malls and our city. It’s good to a part of nation building. Some of you may like to become lawyers. Or, you might want to become a chartered accountant.

Whatever you do, it is important that you select a course where your heart is. Don’t become a doctor because amma is a doctor. Or an engineer because appa pushes you to become one. Don’t become a lawyer because mama tells you. Or don’t become a CA because someone says it’s the hottest profession today. I know you may not know what you like, but somewhere along the line you will know what you don’t like. You must get into what you don’t like. I was lucky. When I said I wanted to do my CA nobody at home wailed although at that time top students went to IIT or to Medicine.

Most of you are children born in the 21st century, what the world calls Generation Z or better still the Internet Generation. More than any other generation, your generation is starkly different from your parents’ generation. I tell you, you are a very lucky generation. You have access to television, to Internet, to science, to technology and to information the way your parents’ generation did not have access to. That opens up the windows of knowledge ever more powerfully. The world today is full of opportunities. Get into an area you love. I will name a few beyond MELA, Medicine, Engineering, Law and Accountancy. .

You want to be a sportsman, like a Tendulkar or a Ronaldo go ahead and try to be it. There is fame and fortune at the end of it. A young nephew of mine says he wants to become a soccer player. I gave him a thumbs up.

Do you love writing? Do you love speaking? Are you good at debates? If yes, you can become a print journalist or a television journalist. Or you can be a writer, like Chetan Bhagat. There are university courses for this.

You can get into Art, the movies. You can become an actor like Shahrukh Khan or an actress like Priyanka Chopra. It’s not impossible. SRK may have been born SRK, but not as the famous actor. If you desire you can direct ad films. You can get into theatre. I have a nephew who wants to go to the theatre. I gave him the thumbs up but told him to have fallback options. You get recognized for your creativity and you become a familiar face. There are courses for that, as in the Film Institute.

You like flying? You can become a pilot. There is a new television serial called ‘Airlines’ on Star Plus, about this lady who aspires to be a successful pilot, and proves herself every single time she flies. You can fly around the world! There are flying schools that you could join.

You want to work in the big, big hotels in India or abroad you can do so. Today more people are travelling. The hotel management industry is the place for you especially if you like to cook or to interact with people of different countries. You can also work in the sea.

You love food? Today people are getting health conscious. You can get into food technology. You can work with food MNCs. You can become a food inspector, a food auditor, a food scientist. Food science is huge: in genetics, vegetables are being modified. In agriculture, farmers are looking for better ways to grow food more organically on a local scale.

You want to try something outrageously new and become a scientist go ahead with it. When I was in school I used to think how wonderful it would be if I could access any book anywhere in the world, read it and return it without me an inch from my home. Today the Internet makes that possible!

Today it’s possible to do many things. It is possible to be a banker by the day, and a writer by the night. It is possible to be a software engineer by the day and a DJ by the night.

Let’s look at E, E for exams.

You must study well. You must perform well in the exams. It is not that if you don’t get top marks you are useless. But it is important that you work hard to excel in studies. If you do well in studies, your opportunities open up in a big way. However, don’t let exams rule your life. 15 years from today nobody will ask you how many marks you got in the Quarterly test or in the Class X exams. But when it comes to Class XII marks are important. Get good marks.

I would like you to set Goals, as in G for goals.

Set small goals. Set goals for every week. About what you want to achieve that week. About how you will improve. Write it in a piece of paper. Set no more than 3 goals. Each time you achieve a goal and strike it off, the sense of joy you get is enormous. Trust me. Try that. You will enjoy it.

And then take Responsibility. R for responsibility. At home take responsibility for keeping your place clean. At school take responsibility for not making the place dirty. You know your school maintains one of the highest standards of cleanliness.

Sometime tomorrow make a list of 5 things that you promise yourself you will never do in life. Keep it in your pocket. Practice it. When ever you have a doubt look into it. You will come back and thank me one day.

And finally learn to be Thankful. T for thanks. (Narrate the story of Dr. Howard Kelly)

G for Goals, R for Responsibility, E for Exams, A for Achievement, T for thanks. Practice these. And you will become a GREAT student. The world is huge and capabilities are limitless. All the best!





About Pattabhi Ram

A chartered accountant by profession, a writer by passion and a teacher by accidental choice.
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