62 Foundation Day


9th September 2020

The last few months have been difficult for all of us.  What we took for granted was not to be.  I have often thought that the world is always like that, and that change is the only constant.  But occasions that disrupt our lives are always happening to us individually, or all around us, or in some country of another, in some state or another.  But this pandemic has affected us all, globally and locally.  

Incoming students are coming 'in' digitally. We can't wait for the campus to resume and for us to welcome you in person.  And for returning students, the campus is lost and lonely without you.  The word सूना really comes alive.

Today is our 62nd Foundation Day.

We have always been celebrating our Foundation day 'in person' - with a great celebration on our Somaiya Vidyavihar campus.  This year, the world has turned upside down.  

The Foundation Day is to reflect upon our Founding principles.  न मानुषात् परो धर्म। No religion greater than service to humanity.  ज्ञानादेव तु कैवल्यम्। Liberation only through knowledge.

Both the above sentiments are important.  Liberation only through knowledge.  And we are a विद्याविहार।  A place of learning.  Learning is that which broadens our minds and expands our horizon and enables greater possibilities.  Encouraging passionate and well reasoned discourse.  And that it is knowledge on the basis of which you learn to make judgments and informed opinions.

न मानुषात् परो धर्म - because ultimately we are all here to make a better world.  For ourselves, our family, our community, our state, our country and the world.  And we will all do it in our own way.  In the choice of our professions, our commitments, and our passions.  Sahir Ludhianavi has expressed it beautifully:
माना कि इस ज़मीं को न गुलज़ार  कर सके, कुछ खार कम तो  कर गये  गुज़रे जिधर से हम

My grandfather, Karamshi Somaiya who founded the institution created Somaiya Vidyavihar as a repayment of a debt to society.  समाज ऋण he used to say.  He was born poor, studied little, but what he learned gave him a window of opportunity.  And he felt that his success obliged him to create similar opportunities for others.  And today, we have 40,000 students under our umbrella. Much like he must have been.  A student, wide eyed, with big dreams for himself, his family and his country.

His wife, Sakarben Somaiya was also a founding trustee.  She used to say simply - Have a big heart.  दिल बड़ा रखना। 3 simple words.  But such a wide world view.  You could have all the education in the world, but it would be meaningless if you did not have a big heart.  Much like Kabir who said:
पोथी पढ़ि पढ़ि जग मुआ, पंडित भया न कोय, ढाई आखर प्रेम का, पढ़े सो पंडित होय।

This is also the first Foundation day since the formation of Somaiya Vidyavihar University.  It represents a new beginning.  Every beginning brings with it its own challenges.  Some anticipated, and some not.  Transitionng to a University is such a challenge.  And making the new beginning in times of COVID is even more a challenge.  But we all have to adapt and learn from it.  And build an even stronger foundation for the future.

So celebrate it we will.  Dr. Pillai and I are working on a date that we will come together - digitally so that we do celebrate this further strengthening of our foundation

Joan Baez, in her song 'Forever Young' has a wonderful verse:

'May your hands always be busy, May your feet always be swift,
May you have a strong Foundation, when the winds of changes shift,
May your heart always be joyful, May your song always be sung,
May you stay Forever Young'

You are all young.  Stay strong, stay healthy, stay happy, and stay forever young.

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