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Excerpt from the Chancellor’s lecture:

All universities should send their students to impoverished rural villages or city slums for at least one or two months during their education. They would be able to see directly the issues and problems that the poor face. They could then develop solutions and write papers on everything they studied. This would help us to help the poor in the most effective way and, at the same time, awaken compassion in today’s youth.

When we look at Bharat (India) today, we see two faces. One face is shining and happy because we are making giant strides in science and information technology. The other is hiding in the shadows. It is the ugly face of pervasive poverty, illiteracy, poor health, crimes against women, and environmental pollution. A split personality is never a sign of sound health. If we want to see a powerful and healthy world, these two faces must merge into one beautiful face. Then no one will go hungry. No one will suffer without a place to sleep. No one will die due to a lack of proper healthcare. If we can bring our collective knowledge, compassion, and talents together, we will soon see the entire world rising and thriving with peace, harmony, and prosperity.

Our lives should be of some benefit to the world. We should sincerely love and console at least one life, for at least a moment, without any expectations.

We have a responsibility towards all those suffering from illness and poverty. We need to provide them food, care, and the light of knowledge. This is our duty.

At present, the human race is caught in the midst of many serious problems: global warming and other natural disasters, unemployment, and economic recession. Many countries are trapped in the grip of poverty and famine. New infectious diseases are arising; infant mortality is increasing. There are more incidents of suicide and psychological problems. These days, for the sake of money, people are ready to do even the cruelest things. Our youth are leading lives devoid of any fundamental human values. Our family lives and the relationships between husbands and wives, etc, are becoming a mockery.

If you probe into the source of most of the problems in the world, you will find only one answer: lack of love and compassion. A lot of effort is being put forth to find a vaccine to stop the spread of the Ebola virus, which in some African countries has become like a nightmare, destroying thousands of lives. However, currently, a much more dangerous virus is at large—a virus that is devouring countless lives every day. This is the virus of hatred. We need not search far and wide to find a cure for this virus. The vaccine is readily available inside each and every one of us: love and compassion. Love and compassion not only provide us with strength and vitality, they also uplift everyone around us. Love is the divine medicine and compassion is the amrita-sanjeevani—the remedy for death.

We very often hear people ask, sadly, “Why is our world in such a state? Why has our country declined in certain areas?” We are forgetting an important truth: The world includes us as well. Thus, we should see that we are also playing a role in making this world better or worse. Consequently, if we try, we can make this world a better place. One of the reasons for the current state of the world is that many people are ready to take whatever they can, even if it means harming others, but when it comes time to sacrifice for the general social good, they run away from their duties.

One of ancient Bharat’s valuable contributions to the world was the invention of the number zero, but now our country needs to add a few things to that zero: zero-poverty, zero-illiteracy, zero-waste, zero-crime, zero-violence against women, etc. If we can make strides in these areas, India can become a role model for many other countries.

Thinking about the current state of Bharat, one of the things that come to Amma’s mind is the increase in crimes against women. Statistics say that the incidents of these crimes have increased by 27 percent in the past year. Some of us see these as “women’s issues,” but this is something of concern for the entire society. Why? Because women are the very foundation of society and the very foundation of the family. A nation can only truly be called advanced when the security and wellbeing of its women are ensured. Boys should be taught from a young age to respect and support girls. Along with this, women need to awaken and arise. This is the need of the hour. The time when women were viewed as weak and helpless is over. The progress of the world rests in the rise of knowledgeable, self-confident, capable, and compassionate women. Women have the power to create a new world now while working side-by-side with men.

Just as we hear of alcohol addiction and drug addiction, today there is also Internet addiction. Misuse of the Internet is one factor contributing to the increase in crime against women. No doubt, the Internet has caused a technological revolution in all spheres of life. We cannot discount all the achievements that have come through it. However, we shouldn’t turn a blind eye to the negative effects that have arisen from its misuse. So many relationships and lives have been destroyed due to this addiction.

Another thing that we need to be aware of is the preservation and protection of Nature. In today’s world, life has become very mechanical. Two people living under the same roof often live devoid of love and happiness, unable to understand or truly acknowledge the other. In the olden days, it was different. While there were no mobile phones back then, the communication that happened through love was perfect and transgressed all barriers of time and space.

We need to enjoy every moment of our life, aware of how precious it is. Life becomes meaningful only when we spread happiness to others. It is this understanding that makes a human being truly human. No one knows how long he will live. Therefore, as soon as possible, we should complete all the good actions we are supposed to. Let’s not postpone anything for tomorrow.

We should look around us and reach out to people who need our help. If we are able to help even just one person, we can bring about a big change in their life.

Humanitarian Initiatives:

As Chancellor of Amrita University, she has fostered the institution’s robust, highly acclaimed research and development with a laser-like focus on humanitarian goals and deployment in the field. Under Amma’s guidance, the university is a trailblazer in the humanitarian application of emerging technologies.

During the event, a new School for Sustainable Development at Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham has launched with an initial corpus fund of Rs. 25 Crores for Ph.D. scholarships for 100 students from India and around the world (“Amrita E4LIFE”).

Speaking about the fellowships, Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham’s Vice-Chancellor, Dr. P. Venkat Rangan said, “Under Chancellor Amma’s direction, faculty and students at Amrita have been striving to help the adopted villages by creating tailor-made solutions that foster sustainable development and social-economic progress. It is to facilitate this vision of Amma’s and to support youth interested in pursuing higher education to uplift the poor and needy that we have created this new Ph.D. fellowship program”.

Other important Humanitarian endeavors inaugurated during the event:

  • Financial support is given to the families of the CRPF soldiers killed in the Pulwama terror attack and to families who lost a member during the 2019 Kerala floods. (SDG 16)
  • Free surgeries for 400 poor families at the Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences in Kochi (SDG 3)
  • 10 free homes for the poor in Kannur (SDG 1)
  • Provision of OceanNet systems to fishermen (allowing them to maintain internet connections when past the normal range of connectivity while fishing in sea) (SDG 9)
  • 400,000 free saris to women enrolled in Amrita SREE SHGs (SDG 1 and SDG 5)
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