Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Induction Ceremony at Aurora College

Dinesh Akki called me and asked if I could attend an orientation ceremony at Aurora college. Whenever it's a school or a college I agree without even thinking and said Yes. Then Dr. Kanthi called me and told me it was an induction program for the first years with a few other guests and some music and dance. New students and their parents would attend the function at RTC Kalyana mandapam. I was game. I was asked to prepare to speak for about 20 minutes. On the D day young Tarun, an upcoming Kabaddi player and a Science student, articulate, bright and full of ideas and plans came to pick me at home, dressed in a jacket and by himself and gave me a hint of things to come.
Dr. Jasveen Jairath, Prof. Venugopal and Me on the dais
But it was only when I went to the venue that the full impact of how well organised the event was, dawned upon me. The entry to the huge RTC Kalyana Mandapam at RTC X Roads was well decorated with flowers and looked no less than any top class ceremony. There were NCC cadets in uniform at the entry who escorted us like we were some state guests.

Dr. Kanthi, Dr. Ravi Nambiar and the Principal Vishwanatham Bulusu were there to receive me. I was escorted into the hall fully packed with about 2500 students, parents, alumni, faculty, media etc. Skits were already on to entertain the guests while the Chief Guest Prof. Venugopal from Osmania University and Distinguished Guest Dr. Jasveen Jairath, Founder of Save Our Urban Lakes movement, arrived. Dr. Ravi kept me delightful company as did the others, the captains plied me with snacks and drinks. Dr. Jasveen Jairath arrived and I told her how I had seen her on TV speaking fearlessly about the Asifa murder in that short byte on TV that went viral and how much I admired her guts. She spoke about her passion, Save Our Urban Lakes, how she, a BITS Pilani graduate and her husband, an IIT Kharagpur graduate, settled down in Hyderabad 30 years ago.

Dr. Venugopal arrived soon after and the program got underway. A traditional dance, seating the guests on the dais and lamp lighting and a few alumni spoke very confidently and in glowing terms about the college. After the Chief Guest spoke about what the college offered, what was in store for them, the rules and regulations that govern them, Ms. Jasveen Jairath spoke about how the students should be fearless, take up environmental causes and go beyond just academics into being leaders in society.

I spoke about how I was asked frequently about why I did not make it beyond Ranji Trophy into Test cricket and likened my first day in the Ranji Trophy dressing room to the freshers first day here. On that day we were all equal and had equal opportunity, just like everyone in the hall, the topper and the last man, had equal opportunity to do what they desired to succeed in these years at college. I told them that I faltered because I had no goal beyond the Ranji Trophy and that compromised my effort and preparation. So they could learn from my mistake and think of a goal for themselves - a big enough one - so they could prepare accordingly.

Then I spoke about what comes between our goals and us - our fears and doubts - and how we could somehow get over those fears and try to be the fullest people we are meant to be. I gave them the example of Dr. Jasveen Jairath and her fiery speech on TV and how we need more such people in our society. If they could get past their fear they could use their time and energy well and do something about what they wanted to become. In this journey, I said they were better off exploring what they did not know with the simple three-word mantra 'I don't know' which could open a lot of avenues of learning. I kept it short because we were already short of time. The secretary Dr. Ramesh spoke with great fluency in Telugu and spoke of a relevant part of the Ramayana, wishing the students the focus, strength and resilience of Lord Hanuman. A fine folk song by the youngsters, a vote of thanks and we ended with the national anthem.

I was very impressed with the college, the culture, the care and concern, the planning and the execution. All of us were. They are sticklers for discipline and insist on 75% attendance, give the students the freedom to express, provide avenues and facilities and have great faculty. Impressive work by the management and faculty of Aurora College and here's wishing them and the students all the best.

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