Celebrating India’s 73rd Independence Day
Sri City, 15 August 2019: Independence Day was celebrated with a lot of excitement, on our campus at Sri City. The students of IFMR-GSB and SIAS gathered along with faculty and guest speakers to hoist the national flag celebrating India’s 73rd Independence Day. The flag hoisting and address were delivered by Air Marshal M. Matheswaran.
In his address to the gathered audience, he stressed the importance of understanding how to build a great nation. He said, “I am immensely happy to hear of a fundamental change to the approach of education that is coming to Chennai in the form of a Liberal Arts education. I congratulate all the new students and I think it is extremely important that future leaders of our great country have a strong interdisciplinary liberal arts format as the foundation on which you can base your future career on. Most countries ensure that the awareness of a country’s interest, history, civilizational and military aspects are well understood by the younger generation. When you come to an institution like Krea, that places a great deal of emphasis on Interdisciplinary studies, it gives each student the best opportunity to understand these issues far better.”
He further added that “This is an age dominated by developmental and societal issues coupled with disruptive technologies. You need to master these aspects. The years that you spend here and the values that you imbibe here will go a long way in how you play out your roles in the careers you choose once you move out of here.”
During the ‘Speaker Series’ which followed, students were enriched listening to Gopalkrishan Gandhi, retired IAS officer and diplomat, who was the 23rd Governor of West Bengal serving from 2004 to 2009 and the grandson of Mahatma Gandhi. “All of us have a role to play in the development of this great country. In fact, the first three words of our national anthem reinforce this, where Jana refers to people, Gana, collectively all of us and Mana, which is the mind of India. Thus, while Bankim Chandra Chatterjee gave territoriality of India with Vande Mataram, Rabindranath Tagore gave us the mind of India with the national anthem. Today is a new beginning for all your students. I congratulate you. It’s the beginning of a new day for you as you struggle to break your bonds and search for your future. Being here as a student is your choice. You have chosen to take control of your destiny. The first and most potent aspect in Life - the exercise of Choice to mark ones intellectual birth is a moment to cherish.” Mr. Gandhi said.
This was followed by ‘Every Tree Counts’ – the tree-planting initiative under the leadership of Prof. Bharath Sundaram when students of School of Interwoven Arts and Sciences along with the students and faculty of IFMR GSB planted saplings for a cleaner, greener future. Every student was encouraged to plant a tree and take a picture with it. Details of the list of species planted on that day were also shared with the students.
After the tree-planting, Kartik Shanker, ecologist and founder trustee of Dakshin Foundation and Associate Professor at the Centre for Ecological Sciences (CES), Indian Institute of Science (IISc.), Bangalore spoke to the students. He drew on his experience in working with marine turtles and conservation outcomes. “The idea of conservation has been driven unfortunately by… (though many wonderful things have come out of it) the race for money, the thirst for knowledge, the politics of space. And all of these as social and political movements have influenced how conservation has been practised, how it has been framed, thought of, shared and practised across the world” said Kartik Shanker. “And when we say that we connect with nature, that must include all of our values. We also need to think about the total impact (of carbon, water etc.) – the flights that we take, the cars that we drive, the wood that we use – all of that contributes to environmental destruction. We need to think about our impact in a much broader way… we need to connect the dots. Environmental issues cannot be dealt with in isolation. They are linked to all the social issues we deal with – from health, water, sanitation, education, other aspects of social aspirations, they are all interconnected. For us to be successful in changing our relationship with the environment, we need to be addressing all of these issues together.”
The panel discussion on ‘Freedom’ that followed, was moderated by Mukund Padmanabhan, the former Editor of The Hindu, who is also Visiting Professor of Practice, Humanities & Social Sciences. The discussion centred around the socio-political understanding of ‘freedom’ – as in political liberties and social rights.