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Teach children how to navigate through misinformation and fake news – Vice President

The Vice President of India, M. Venkaiah Naidu today emphasised the need to teach children how to navigate through the misinformation and fake news that infest the media landscape, especially the new media environment these days.

Addressing over 200 young participants at the ‘Times Scholars Event’ through video conferencing today, the Vice President asked them to develop the ability to analyse and courage to accept the truth and discard the lies. The event was hosted by The Times of India and focused on promoting reading, especially reading of newspapers among students.

Expressing disappointment over the fall in the reading habit of children, the Vice President highlighted the need to teach them to be intelligent and discerning readers amid the limitless information available today.

 

“A well-read student is definitely better prepared to overcome challenges in life”, he said.

Quoting the former President Dr. Kalam, Naidu asked the students to “aim high and dream high”. Further describing the qualities required to realize one’s dream, VP listed self-discipline, hard work, sincerity, perseverance and the ability to maintain equanimity in all situations as very important among others.

Observing that Covid induced disruption in academic schedule has caused anxiety and stress among many students, the Vice President advised them to not get disturbed by events which are beyond one’s control.

“All of you are young and need to develop a strong emotional quotient and the ability to weather ups and downs in life”, he told students.

He also advised students to practice Yoga regularly to improve their physical fitness, mental equilibrium and overcome stress and anxiety.

Emphasising the importance of Yoga and meditation to boost immunity in the wake of pandemic, Naidu wanted it to be included in school curriculum from a young age.

“Yoga will also help youngsters to improve your concentration levels and inculcate discipline”, he said.

Drawing attention towards the tough competition in every field in present times, the Vice President advised the students to develop confidence and try to overcome all odds by striving to achieve excellence.

Please remember that there are no short-cuts to success, he told them.

Asking the students to not look upon education as a vehicle to merely acquire degrees and take up employment, Naidu opined that the education is meant for enlightenment and empowerment of an individual.

“Education should not only equip the students with the requisite knowledge, but must necessarily develop them into good human beings”, he said.

Maintaining that our ancient education system placed great emphasis on moral values, VP called for inculcating the human values such as empathy, honesty, integrity, humility, gratitude, forgiveness and respect for elders among the children.

 

Expressing the need to make the youngsters aware of India’s glorious past, the Vice President wanted them to take pride in their heritage and history and serve as ambassadors of India’s lofty cultural and civilizational ideals in the world.

He exhorted the students to strive for excellence in whichever career path they chose and keep pushing the boundaries and find new frontiers.

“Never be satisfied with the status quo. Always set higher benchmarks and create new and better systems wherever you go”, he said.

The Vice President also wanted the students to understand the problems being faced by the world such as poverty, inequality, violence and climate change and asked them to come up with new solutions for these.

Reminding the students of the powerful Talisman given by the Father of Nation, Naidu hoped that they will always remember the plight of those who have been less fortunate.

Let Sarvodaya and Antyodaya be your guiding principles, he said.

He called India’s youth power as its greatest resource today and expressed faith in the ability of youngsters to take the country to greater heights.

Sanjeev Bhargava, Director-The Times of India and Mirror Brands, Vikas Singh, Associate Executive Editor, The Times of India and others were present on the occasion.

The following is the full text of the speech:

I am extremely delighted to participate virtually in this event hosted by ‘The Times of India’ and share my thoughts with bright young minds.

As a matter-of-fact, it would have given me immense pleasure to meet with all the participants and interact with them. Unfortunately, the pandemic has created a new normal and all of us need to get accustomed to virtual meetings for some more time.

I understand that you are among the best and brightest among the students of India, chosen by Times of India through a rigorous process. I am told that nearly 3 Lakh aspiring youngsters participated in the competition and from whom 200 were selected. Let me convey my appreciation to Times of India for this unique initiative.

I am happy to know that at the heart of the program is an endeavour to promote reading, especially reading of newspapers among students. I have always believed that a well-read student is definitely better prepared to overcome challenges in life and seize every opportunity that comes his or her way.

It is with great disappointment that I note the fall in the reading habit of children today. In today’s world, where limitless information is available to us at the click of a button,it is crucial that we teach our children to be intelligent and discerning readers.

We must teach them to gather in-depth information and inculcate in them the ability, the sagacity to analyse, critique and the courage to accept what is good and categorically reject the bad.

Circumstances also demand that we teach them to navigate through all the misinformation and fake news that infest the media landscape, especially the new media environment today. Like the legendary bird, the ‘hamsa’, our children must be able to assimilate and absorb the truth and discard the lies.

I am certain that initiatives like the Times Scholar will certainly help mould a generation of scholarly youngsters who read to broaden their horizons, raise their aspirations and discover that reading and learning can be truly pleasurable activities.

Dear youngsters,

You are the future of our nation and will be playing a crucial role in the growth and development of the country in the coming years. Of course, all of you will be choosing different careers–some might become doctors, while others might prefer to be engineers, lawyers, chartered accountants, architects, journalists and so and so forth. Some might also enter the political arena.

Irrespective of the path chosen by you, always remember to set high goals and work hard to realize them. As the former President, Dr Abdul Kalam often used to say “aim high and dream high”. However, mere goal-setting will not be enough. You need to come up with a concrete roadmap to achieve those goals. It requires self-discipline, hard work, sincerity, perseverance and the ability to maintain equanimity in all situations.

For instance, the pandemic-led disruption in the academic schedule must have caused anxiety and stress among many students. It is in such circumstances that one should remain imperturbable and not get disturbed by events which are beyond one’s control. All of you are young and need to develop a strong emotional quotient and the ability to weather ups and downs in life.

Dear students,

One of the most effective ways to improve physical fitness, maintain mental equilibrium and overcome stress and anxiety is by practicing Yoga, the ancient Indian science and art. There appears to be common misconception that Yoga consists of only physical exercises. It is a holistic mental, physical and spiritual activity for the overall wellbeing of an individual.

In fact, there is a need to include Yoga in school curriculum across the country to enable children learn it from a young age. In the wake of the pandemic, it has become all the more important to practice Yoga and meditation to boost immunity and protect one’s health, both physical and mental.

Yoga will also help youngsters like you to improve your concentration levels and inculcate discipline.

Although, these are the days of tough competition at all levels, you should not get daunted by any situation. Develop confidence and try to overcome all odds by striving to achieve excellence. Please remember that there are no short-cuts to success. Diligence, discipline and single-minded devotion are essential to realize your dreams.

Dear students,

Do not look upon education as a vehicle to merely acquire degrees and take up employment. Education is meant for enlightenment and empowerment of an individual. As the Father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi had said : “ By education, I mean an all-round drawing of the best in child and man in body, mind and spirit”. Education should not only equip the students with the requisite knowledge, but must necessarily develop them into good human beings.

Education is not merely a transaction in knowledge and information. It must also be a relentless endeavour to inculcate morals and values in our youngsters. It is important to inculcate the values of empathy, honesty, integrity, humility, kindness, gratitude, forgiveness and respect for elders among children.

India was once the Vishwaguru or the teacher to the world. Our education system placed an unwavering emphasis on developing righteousness and moral fibre in our youngsters. We must keep up this grand tradition.

Our history is also replete with stories of outstanding scholars, both men and women, who led scientific discoveries that were much ahead of their time, authored enduring classics and created timeless works of art and architecture. Our youngsters must be made aware of the stories of these heroes and must be encouraged to explore and learn from the various facets of India’s glorious history.

You must take great pride in our heritage and history and serve as ambassadors of India’s lofty cultural and civilizational ideals, wherever in the world you decide to live and work. Irrespective of where you live, you must never forget mother, mother tongue, motherland and Guru.

My dear young students,

As I said earlier, in this brave new world, you have the opportunity to pick any career of your choice. But whichever career path you choose, you must strive to excel.

If you choose to be a doctor, be a highly skilled, efficient and empathetic doctor. If you choose to be a soldier, be courageous and a person of integrity, honesty and self-control. If you choose to build a business, let it be an ethical, humane one. If you wish to be a teacher, go beyond teaching and strive to impart enlightenment and help your students to be better human beings.

Whatever you choose to do, keep pushing the boundaries and find new frontiers. Never be satisfied with the status quo. Always set higher bench marks and create new and better systems wherever you go. Never hesitate to innovate to the best of your ability.

I also want you to be aware of the problems that the world faces today, from poverty and inequality to violence and displacement to climate change. I want you to observe keenly and understand the true nature and cause for these problems and come up with new solutions.

The world is interconnected today more than ever before and therefore it is simply not enough to solve the problems of your country alone. You must be truly global citizens in the sense that you must seek to solve problems that affect humanity. Only then will you truly realize the great mantra of our civilization, ‘Vasudhaiva kutumbakam’. To us, the world is and has always been one big family, interconnected and interdependent in the great web of life.

I also hope that you will always remember the plight of those who have been less fortunate than you. Let me remind you of the powerful Talisman that the father of our nation gave us, which asked us to recall the face of the poorest and the weakest man whom we may have seen, every time a decision eludes us.We must keep asking ourselves if we have succeeded in restoring control over his destiny. We must keep asking ourselves if we have succeeded in bringing swaraj to these hungry and spiritually starving millions.

My dear young friends,

Let Sarvodaya and Antyodaya be your guiding principles.

Let your conscience be an ever-flowing fountain of empathy and compassion for those less fortunate than yourself.

It was Swami Vivekananda who once said that “The great secret of true success, of true happiness, is this: the man or woman who asks for no return, the perfectly unselfish person, is the most successful.”

I hold great faith in the ability of our youngsters to take this country to greater heights.

India’s youth power is its greatest resource today. I am confident that each one of you will grow up to be educated, knowledgeable, dutiful, responsible, compassionate citizens of incorruptible integrity and unbreakable moral fibre.

I wish each and every one of you all the very best in your future endeavours.

Thank You!

Jai Hind!

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