Pt. Madan Mohan Malaviyaji was one of the greatest leaders of our freedom struggle who shaped the values and ideals of modern India. Like many leaders of that generation, he was a man of many parts and his genius as an educationist, as a social reformer, as a writer and as a legislator has left a deep imprint on our polity and on our society.
We remember Malaviyaji as the founder of the Banaras Hindu University, which is today one of the premier national universities in the country with nearly twenty thousand students and 140 departments ranging from social sciences to medicine and engineering.
Malaviyaji wanted the youth of India to benefit from an integrated education that incorporated modern scientific knowledge, practical training, ethical standard and the study of the arts. He wanted to blend the best of Indian learning with the modern scientific ideas of the West.
I can do no better than to quote his message on the founding of the Banaras Hindu University. “India is not a country of the Hindus only. It is a country of the Muslims, the Christians and the Parsees too. The country can gain strength and develop itself only when the people of the different communities in India live in mutual goodwill and harmony. It is my earnest hope and prayer that this centre of life and light which is coming into existence, will produce students who will not only be intellectually equal to the best of their fellow students in other parts of the world, but will also live a noble life, love their country and be loyal to the Supreme ruler. "
I cannot think of a better ideal of education in our country and it remains as relevant today as it was when it was written nearly a hundred years ago. Malaviyaji believed in the power of education and morality in arousing the national consciousness.
That was an era when a group of like-minded individuals, who were men and women of unimpeachable integrity and intellectual giants in their own rights, provided moral, intellectual and political leadership of a rare quality to our country. They were widely loved and respected and their politics was infused with a high degree of idealism, selfless service and the hope of building a new and modern India unshackled from colonial subjugation.
Despite the cynicism that prevails today around us, I believe that in the heart of each one of us there is a yearning for decency, for goodness and respect for fundamental human values. These are the same values that we associate with the founding fathers of our republic. And it is our bounden duty to remind successive generations of what they aspired for in building a free and modern India.
I am extremely happy at the initiative taken by the Ministry of Culture to celebrate the life and achievements of one of our great patriots that Malaviyaji was. At the first meeting of the National Committee headed by me that was set up to Commemorate the 150th Birth Anniversary Year of Malaviyaji, we received a number of very constructive suggestions on the commemorative events to be organized. We have established a National Implementation Committee headed by renowned scholar-statesman Dr. Karan Singh to oversee the implementation of the various events.
A wide range of projects are being undertaken as part of the commemoration to make Malaviyaji’s ideals and achievements more accessible to a wider audience. Our aim is to motivate the youth of our country to learn and be inspired by his thoughts, by his teachings and by his achievements.
I am particularly glad to learn that special efforts are being made to translate the biography and literary works of Malaviyaji in different Indian languages. A series of countrywide seminars, lectures and exhibitions will be organised for spreading his message to the people at large.
A Centre for Malaviya studies will be set up at the Banaras Hindu University, where a digital collection of Malaviyaji's writings will be compiled for the first time. We also plan to establish chairs, scholarships and education related awards in his memory.
I do hope commemorative events will capture the multi-faceted genius of Pt. Madan Mohan Malaviya and his versatile contributions to the making of history of modern India.
(Speech at the inaugural function, Commemoration of 150th Birth Anniversary
of Mahamana Madan Mohan Malaviya, December 27, 2011, New Delhi)