Friday, October 10, 2008

Azim Premji’s speech at the Pratibha Puraskar awards


Respected President, Mr Behar, Guest of Honour Mr. G Ramesh, the office bearers of the Karnataka State Secondary Teachers’ Association, Bangalore South, ladies and gentlemen,

It is indeed a pleasure to be present here among so many young achievers who are being felicitated by the Karnataka State Secondary Teachers’ Association Bangalore South District. I heartily congratulate all the young achievers, their teachers and also their parents and family members. Believe me, the pleasure of being here is far higher than the pleasure of achieving accolades in the boardroom. I must say that the idea of felicitating the achievers under Pratibha Puraskar Felicitation is an outstanding idea and I thank the organisers for inviting me here.

I sincerely believe that these young achievers are the future leaders of our country and they need to be looked at as role models by the other children present here.

If those who are being felicitated here carefully think through, they will realise that their success is a result of some of the common ingredients that are normally responsible for any success. In my opinion, those are

Hard Work

This debate whether hard work is necessary or smart work is necessary has long been settled and everyone now knows that both are required. Believe me that the world out there is very competitive and there is no substitute to hard work. Even today, I find it difficult to fully cope with the demands of my responsibility despite putting in the work of over 16 hours a day, six days a week. It is possible that today some of you get good results even with less than hard work, but as you grow, you will find that you will have to put in more and more work to get better grades. If you have other interests such as sports and recreation, the number of hours you have to put in only go up. Whether it is Mr. Amitabh Bachchan or Sachin Tendulkar, one of the key ingredients of their success is hard work.

Sincerity and Consistency

Only if you take your responsibilities seriously, you will concentrate and do justice to what you are supposed to do. Whether it is studies or sports activities or any other form of art, you will realise that you need sincerity of purpose and a consistent effort towards the goal. There is no individual or organisation in this world that can sit on its laurels and enjoy permanently in life. Many a times, it is easy to achieve peak performance but very difficult to remain there unless you have a consistency of effort. This requires a lot of will power and urge to excel in what you are doing all the time. The world around you has very short memory. Even a Sachin Tendulkar will be quickly forgotten if he does not score runs for five consecutive matches. There is no alternative to consistency for continued success.

Unflinching Faith in Yourself, Your Teacher and in Your Parents

To start with, you must believe that you will be able to achieve excellence in life. Self-confidence plays a vital role in doing anything well in life. And self-confidence has to be maintained despite a few failures in life. In the corporate world, we give a lot of importance to self-confidence as a leadership quality.
Remember that the chances of the patient getting cured of illness are far higher if that patient has faith in the doctor that he/she consults. Similarly, you must have full faith in your teachers and parents that they mean well for you. You must strongly believe that your teacher or your parents are the best in the world and must carry the highest respect for them. You are where you are, only because of your teacher and your parents.

You have achieved something because you wanted to achieve it

Please realise that the success you have achieved is not by default or by sheer coincidence but is a result of what you set out to achieve consciously. Anything that happens by accident does not last long. You have huge challenges before you in life and you are just entering the battlefield of competition. You can continue to be successful, only if you do continue to put in hard work, with the same sincerity, integrity of purpose and complete same confidence about self.

Many people say I am successful in what I am doing, though I personally feel that I have to achieve so much more. I sincerely believe that there are some fundamental reasons that help in achieving results in life:

The first contributor is upbringing. Our first learning happens at home. Our parents sacrifice so many things for us and ensure that we get the best of everything. My parents very consciously taught me the middle class values of respecting the elders, respecting the good values in life and above all respecting the value of money. So if your parents also make efforts to inculcate these values in you, embrace these values willingly.

The second contributor is the educational institutions we study in. I loved my school and my college. I learnt so many things there. The teachers were very kind and paid individual attention to me. I also learnt a lot from my co-students. I would urge each one of you to get the best out of your schools and colleges since this period in life will not return.

The next important thing in life is to have a clear vision of what you want to achieve in life. Your vision will act as a lighthouse that guides the path for you all the time. Even in the organisations, we find that vision helps us in guiding our actions.

No vision can work unless you have a clear plan of execution. I always found that a vision is meaningless unless it is backed by a clear action plan. So if you have a vision to become a doctor or a lawyer or an astronaut, you must think through and plan what actions are required to achieve this vision. There has to be a complete alignment of your vision and your actions. You cannot become a doctor or an engineer if you spend most of your time in playing cricket. Nor can you become a top class cricketer if you spend most of your time indoors.

The next element I want to share with you is the need for speed in life. The world around us is moving at an unbelievable pace and if you feel to keep pace with the world, you will be left behind. So whatever you do has to be done quickly and now. There is no place for tomorrow if you have to do something today.

The world of today is not simple but very complex. It will constantly throw at you challenges, paradoxes and conflicting messages. Nothing will be available for you in an easy way. You will have to develop the ability to make meaning out of this and choose what is right for you. In other words, you will have to develop the ability to deal with ambiguity.

Above all, my suggestion to you is to play to win. The new meaning for playing to win is to understand the depth of your potential and utilise it to the fullest. Winning does not mean playing dirty. Cutting corners would not give you the satisfaction of a real win. At Wipro, we achieved what we achieved without compromising in any manner on integrity. We believe in certain values strongly and do not compromise on them in any situation.

It is only a well-meaning education system that develops the competence and self-confidence among human beings. As you might have heard, in Azim Premji Foundation we have a dream of impacting the life of millions of children through universalisation of elementary education under Azim Premji Foundation. We strongly believe that every child in this country has a fundamental right to education and therefore, must be in school. We also believe that every child must remain in school and joyfully learn. My personal experience, after having worked in this area is that we have in our country a huge number of passionate teachers who, in a self-less manner are carrying out the responsibility of educating children in thousands of school. Especially in the government schools there is a lot of talent among the teachers and they are trying to make the best of their limited resources all the time. You are really fortunate that some of these teachers are taking cognisance of your achievements and are felicitating you. I would like to salute and respect the contributions of teachers across the country in shaping the future of the youth of this country.

I once again thank the teachers’ association for inviting me and wish all of you the very best for your future.

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