The Importance of Values: Kiran Bediís Message to Udayachal
am touched, emotionally moved and charged with energy. I am moved by your love and care and respect. When I was invited by the Godrej family and Udayachal School Principal, I could not have said "no". Godrej stands for remarkable excellence and quality. So far, I was seeing it in your products. Today, I have seen it through your children and through your institution.
I thank the daughters and the daughters-in-law who are here with us running this institution for the future. It has been a wonderful experience attending your school function. In fact, at many school functions that I go to, I have sometimes had to make an effort to make children visualise what I want them to see: visualise hard work, visualise discipline, visualise respect for parents, visualise respect for law. Today, you made me see it all. I donít have to make you imagine because you showed it so practically, so beautifully! So I salute the staff of the senior school and the junior school.
I thank all the creative artists who arranged things so beautifully. It was one of the finest programmes I have ever seen. Believe me, it has been an ordeal for me sometimes to involve children in what I have to say because their attention span is short. But I didnít have to do anything today. It was almost as if the students became teachers themselves for us. It was very imaginatively done, simple but powerful.
I think that anyone who is a part of this school is part of a privileged family. Education does not come by design. It comes by privilege ó because your parents choose the school. This education, this quality education which moulds your life and shapes your future is destiny, it is a gift of God. Your parents choose your school. You donít choose your school. You choose your college. So when you go to a school like this, it is your destiny which brought you here. Remember that, I want you to take this message home. You came to this school, just as I went to my Sacred Heart School in Amritsar. Why? Because my father sent me there and you have said it in the play. You see, if I said it like that you wonít have understood. But you see how my father spoke up to his own father, that Daddy you wonít decide for me and for my children; I will decide for my children and my children will get the best education. And, at that time my father and mother were living on pocket money because it was a large family and Godrejs know what happens in a large family, you only get pocket money. You donít get a salary or you donít get a share of the profits.
Those days, you just got pocket money because the kitchen was common. My Mom and Dad used their pocket money to see a movie or go on a picnic. Since we were living in Amritsar, my Mom and Dad would get on a bike and they would go to Lahore to see a film because it was just across the border. But when we were born, my father sent us to the best school in that city. Fortunately it still remains the best school in Amritsar ó the Sacred Heart School Convent.
Be a Godrej
We were gifted that school and because of the school, I used to run every day. Can I ever get over the stamina that I built up? Never. Because of the school I learnt to value money and my parentsí hard work. Can I get over the gratitude to my parents? Never. Can I change my habit of valuing money or appreciating a gift which has come from God? Never. So remember that what you are getting is a gift. You have to realise that all the messages which are coming from the school are for a reason. And the reason is to create outstanding children. The reason is to have more Godrejs in this country. Thatís the reason. Each one of you should be another Godrej for this country. You may be a Godrej in government or you may be a Godrej in the private sector. But you have to be a Godrej in your life, because in Godrej you have the entire name, fame and the value system of India. Now, if you need to be Godrej then you need to know the story of Godrej, you need to know how the Godrej family did it from almost nothing. How the founders created so much national wealth.
When I was growing up, I tried to understand why I was getting the best schooling. The answer was to be able to give back to society, to come back to serve the community. Thatís what it was for.
When I did my Masters in Political Science, my eldest sister was in Canada and she was very keen that my parents emigrate to Canada with her. She sent me a scholarship from the British Columbia University in Vancouver. My parents asked me: "Do you want to go?" I said: "If you put me on the plane, I will drop out of the plane. Iím not going. I will stay with you and study here." I wanted to work for my own country. I travelled the world over, but I came back home. I came back to my own country to serve.
My second request is to continue to remember that you want to be a Godrej and not forget it when you go to college. So the two things I want to emphasize:
See! I became a teacher again. I was a teacher once upon a time before I joined the Indian Police Service. I taught in a college and I taught in a nursery school after I finished my graduation and while I was waiting for my Masters admission, three months away. Since I was not used to letting even a single moment of my life be wasted, I wondered what I could do in those three months. I picked up my cycle and rode to a nearby school. I walked into the Principalís office, introduced myself, and explained: "Iíve got three months to spare before going to Chandigarh to do my Masters. Can I have a job? Can I teach here?" She said: "What will you teach?" I said: "All the nursery rhymes my sisters taught me."
Guess what! After working for one month, I got my salary ó 30 rupees. It was the first money that I had, because I never asked my parents for any pocket money ever. Thatís the third message I want to give to you. I never used to ask my Mom and Dad to give me any pocket money because I knew they were training and educating me from pocket money. So how could I ask them for pocket money? By the time we had grown up, my parents had enough money.
But the point is I had started to value these resources. So what did I do with my 30 rupees? I bought all the jams and sauces and sausages which my Mom never used to buy. I bought them all and I said: "Mom, this is my first gift to you."
So, children, these are the values of life. Imbibe them all. Do not forget them when you go to college. And a word for the parents is that a teacher-mother-father relationship is interchangeable. Just as a teacher is a mother and father in the school, at home, the mother and father are also the teacher.
How could I as a parent be a good teacher at home? We must all think about what it takes to be a good teacher, mother or father. Remember, mothers alone cannot be teachers. Fathers also have to be at home to be teaching. That is very critical. That means the lifestyles of fathers and mothers have to be such that they can find the time to teach, educate and provide role models, by setting the right standards, by reinforcing what the school is teaching. When these children are encouraged in this way, they will continue to say that we want to be a Godrej.
Go by the name and go by the spirit of your founders. A sense of gratitude will come and values will get translated and seep into childrenís veins every day. I thank you once again for the very affectionate honour done to me. For me, it was an experience watching my own life replayed. This has been one of the most unique school programmes I have ever seen. I probably will write about it one day and narrate to other schools when I go to visit them, and hope and pray that we may have thousands of Godrejs.