My children often ask me what I remember of my school days. Was I naughty, did I get good marks? What was my favourite subject? Who was the strictest teacher?
I often laugh at their questions. Because I know now, years later, that they are the wrong questions.
I look back today and cannot think what life would have been like without an education, not just the basic ability to read, write and count, not just the knowledge imparted in the classroom or through a text book, but the most vital spirit of how to continue questioning and learning. Of course I do remember the strictest teacher (I won’t name her here, I’m still afraid I may get in trouble) and my favourite subjects (Maths and English) and the pranks I played with my friends but most of all, I remember the moments I struggled and consequently the resilience I cultivated.
I look at India today and part of me swells with pride at the recent economic boom and achievements while another part sinks with despair at the persisting disparities. I ask myself and my children: how do we design schools to instill the skills, determination, and values to address the gaps and injustices in our society, how do we ensure the next generation inherits a sustainable world, how do we leverage this thriving economy for wider change? These are the questions we should be asking of our schools and colleges.
To the scholars within our Foundation: it is my hope that together with the skills to be a leader and a professional, you also cultivate the determination to continue learning and taking on new challenges because it is that alone that will serve you well and ultimately that alone which will allow you to have a wider impact within our society.