Saturday, October 22, 2016

22nd Convocation Address on 22nd October 2016

Mrs Arthy Sampathy, Mr Sailesh, Prof V.G. Chari and all other Professors, distinguished audience and most importantly, all the graduates getting coronated today -  I am delighted and privileged to be amidst these blossoming flowers of life whose petals are in pleasant colours that the most beautiful butterfly would envy. At the outset, let me congratulate all of you for all that you achieved on this illustrious Siva Sivani Campus. I also congratulate the faculty and staff who should be feeling equally proud of seeing you transcending to a different territory.
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When Dr Chari called me on the morning of 16th of this month to adorn this dais I instantaneously accepted the invitation for, it is a great honour to be in the hall of fame of Siva Sivani Institute alongside doyens like Abdul J. Kalam who ignited the minds of youth and scientists alike. I also realise the responsibility to share with you such lessons of life that you would love to hear.
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If it is my parents who taught me love and affection, it is my gurus who made me sterner stuff. I shall invoke my parents’ and Gurus’ blessings before I call upon you to do all that you wanted to do after you leave this campus. “Matru Devo Bhava, Pithru Devo Bhava, Acharya Devo Bhava.
I was wondering what you would love to hear for the next few minutes different from what you had been listening during the last two years on this campus. I thought the choices made in my life at different points of time could be of interest to you. You are today fortunate to stand in the midst of an intersection that takes you to the roads leading to join a job or setting up an enterprise that creates the jobs.

All of you are at a point of inflexion that I was five decades ago holding a post graduation degree with distinction in Economics for four years by then. Little did I know of opportunities abroad and even if I had known there was no way I could aspire with no physical or financial assets to support such ambitions. As the eldest child of the large family I had to supplement my parents’ income to run the family.
After a year of intense preparation for competitive avenues, I was every day waiting for the postman to arrive with some good news, having seen my result for the civil services and the SBI Probationary Offiers. The day arrived and the post man delivered three covers at a time.
I opened the first one: it related to the PO’s post in SBI requiring me to appear for a medical test before the Bank’s Authorised physician in Visakhapatnam; the second one – final selection asking me to report at the National Police Academy, Mount Abu for training; and the third one: Invitation to join the post of the coveted Research Officer in DCM Ltd., Delhi. I took all the offer letters to my father seeking his advice. He just said: “my job is over. It is for you to choose.”Among the three the most paying in those days was the last one; the least paying was the Civil Services, but most charming. I opted to take the front foot to the civil services only to back off in a fortnight. I joined the SBI. During the service in SBI instead of chanting the panchakshari mantra of the Bank, C.A.I.I.B., I preferred to do Ph.D. I enjoyed my profession – may be because success embraced me.
During my tenure at the Bank, thanks to my teacher and well wisher, Shri B.N. Yugandhar, father of the present legendary figure in Microsoft, Mr Satya Nadendla, I went on deputation to the LBS National Academy of Administration, Mussoori as Professor of economics for a couple of years where nearly 500 civil servants were trained during that period. This period was as much teaching as learning. It opened up new vistas and kicked up my passion for research and articulation.
With about three decades of distinguished career in the Bank, I left the service voluntarily with no VRS benefit and it was my academic instinct that took me to Administrative Staff College of India.
Now, my well meaning friends say that had I continued in IPS I may have been a Governor of a State; others say, had I continued in the Bank I would have been either a Chairman of a Bank or even Governor of RBI; and some others say with my keenness for research, I would have been chairing the Planning Commission. If that were to be your position, I am unsure as to what you would have opted if you are in my position. In retrospect, however, I would say that I had no occasion to regret for any of my choices.
Since you are all at the point of inflexion right now, the choices are many and opportunities could be plenty. Choose an option but never regret.
Part 2
The jest for life is just beginning to unfold before you and you are in a land of growing opportunities. On the campus you had all the joy of gossip into filmy dialogues, watching Virat Kohli hit a double ton again and again or Ashwin setting up new records in twisting his hand to the exit of his opponent, or teasing each other on a silly joke. If you did not indulge in such mirth you would have missed precious youth. But if you continue the same you would miss the future. You need to take the lead in telling about our culture, our custom and our history. The whole world is looking at India – India as a nation of youth and energy. 
India is the only country which has democracy, demographic dividend and demand, and it is currently on smoothening its road to the ease of doing business.
Talking of entrepreneurship, starting small like the NIRMA is never a bad option for it provides learning lessons at least expense and growing fast through experimenting on new strategies.
I know that several of you qualified in on-campus selections are eager to take positions in the industry. There could be innovative few of you wanting to be part of Make in India fortune as a start up. I cannot but recall Steve Jobs whose Apple phone or Mac Note Book could be right in your hands. ‘You have to find what you love and keep doing the things you love.’ But the fire and enthusiasm in you should never be killed.
Quite a few of you may have come from villages. You may want to do something to those hapless people in villages who have all along been victims of petty politics. But when you want to breathe fresh air, you have to go to such villages. Rural India is today cynosure of investors. Innovative enterprise in rural areas has immense potential for success. Such success may not be as instantaneous as a job fetching you Rs.6-8lakhs per annum. But it has its charm.
This is an exciting time for leaders and entrepreneurs in our country. The country’s policy framework is more federal than before. During 1990s we embraced liberalization, privatization and globalization and the mantra was ‘compete or perish’. Today, the mantra is coopetition for sustainability. You compete but cooperate with the competitor. You collaborate and add value to whatever you do provided it does not cut into your principles. Make mega beautiful.
You are increasingly finding that firms are growing but jobs are declining because all believe in automation, innovation and cost reduction. Each App on the mobile is an instrument of innovation. The creator is happy when the market accepts it. The user is happy when he sees value in it. But the creator realizes that it threw off many out of job. Therefore, you need to run fast to stay where you are, like Allis in the wonderland. You need to plan for building enterprise. Enormous service opportunities are waiting for you with consumerism growing. Webster defines ‘opportunity’ as a “fit time’. You are fortunate because now is a truly ‘fit time’ for you. You just have to have courage and patience, plan and progress.
The timing is perfect because I see more and more people standing against corruption and evil designs than in the preceding five years. When you are competing with ten other equals you compromise on remuneration. More importantly, many of those realize that, ultimately, those who do only what they please to do are seldom pleased with what they do. New horizons are being explored by such persons and this is encouraging.
Here I feel like recalling the last day speech of John Kennedy before he was assassinated: “We, in this country, in this generation, are by destiny, rather than by choice, the watchmen of the walls of world freedom. We ask, therefore, that we may be worthy of the power and the responsibility, that we may exercise our strength with wisdom and restraint, that we may achieve in our time and all times the ancient vision of peace on earth, good will toward men. That must always be our goal and the righteousness of our call must always underlie our strength, for as it was written long ago, except the Lord keep the city, the watchmen walketh in vain.” It aptly applies to us in India at this moment.
Financial Times, London carried a beautiful article on ‘Which business people would make good world leaders?’ just five days ago. “Sir Richard Branson, a person with no formal education, built his business empire from relatively humble beginnings he combines eco aspirations with pushing the boundaries of innovation, while giving his highly skilled employees the autonomy and support to succeed.” Bill Gates, Michael Bloomberg, Indra Nooyi, Yvon Chouinard are the other leaders that figure in the article. At home you have very tall leaders like Narayana Murthy of Infosys or B.V. Mohan Reddy, former President of NAFSCOM, closer home.
The diploma you are proudly carrying with you from today is the product of knowledge or ‘Gnana’. ‘Pragjna’ or skill can be developed depending where you work. But ‘Pravrutti’ or attitude, the right one is possible only when you put ethics in front of knowledge and skill. What is this ethics I am talking of?
Ethics is deciding between right and wrong. But ethical dilemma lies in choosing between right and right. It is the ethics in love and affection. You should be sincere in love and deep in affection. The spouse that comes into your life may know you no more than the fun and frolic you had time and occasion to share or the physical attraction. Life lies in compromises generated out of affection. The hollowness of life is at once gone, the moment you share the sorrows and joys alike. Successful partners at home have never failed in their partnerships in firms. Therefore, success begins at home. Loving parents and loving spouse makes you the best partner in a firm or best director in a company because you never carry the problems of home to a work situation.
I would only cite a few things that you need to avoid, so that you pick up the right things that come your way.
‘Taking things that don’t belong to you; saying things that you know are not true; giving or allowing false impression; buying influence or engaging in conflict of interest; hiding or divulging information; taking unfair advantage; committing acts of decadence; perpetuating interpersonal abuse; violating rules and condoning unethical action.’
Upanishads are our treasure. I am tempted to refer to a psalm from Brihadaranyakopanishad when translated into English reads like this: Quote-
“Where learning is not realized as self, such learning cannot last. Where power is not realized as self, such power cannot stay.
Like waters merging in the sea, all colours merge in the sense of sight; sounds merge in the sense of hearing; odours merge in the sense of smell; flavours merge in the sense of taste,; felt sensations merge in touch; actions merge in motivation; all expressions merge in meaning; thoughts and ideas merge in mind; and all feelings merge in the heart.
All mind and sense, and all objects they perceive are formed from changing elements; in course of time they all must change and pass away. Wherever knowledge is attained, no such perceptions can remain.” unquote  
I also allude to Gnana Yoga of Bhagavadgita that says: 
“Karmanyakarma, Yah Pasyaecha karmani ka karma yah; Sa buddhiman manusheyeshu, Sa yuktaha, Krutsnakyarma krut.” (Your ability to see the wrong in the right and right in the wrong would make you intelligent, - and all of you are intelligent - eligible for bliss and perform ethical acts.)
If you live each day that it would be the last day, you will do all that you can before the day ends. So you learn to live in the present to embark on an exciting future. And yes, the future is uncertain, for you know not the reward of uncertainty. You now hold in your hands information and inspiration that will unlock the treasures you seek in tomorrow’s life. Instead of focusing your energy, as most of us do, on what goes wrong- redirect that energy towards a positive outcome in both work and family relationships. Make ethics as a permanent platform to climb the ladder of success when the success will truly bring happiness. All successful persons may not be the happiest lot; but most happy persons are successful. I wish all of you the best in careers, happiness in life and excellence in pursuit.