Your Excellency Shrimati Patil, President of India,
Chairman Analjit, Board members, Headmaster and students of Doon School,
I am delighted to be here at an important milestone in the history of an exceptional institution. We have all heard of Doon but I see the true worth of the school, in the presence of such a large number of alumni here today and in the commitment with which Doon Alumni of all ages, serve their alma mater. One must appreciate such a special lifetime bond between a school and her students. Even in my own country, I always ask people, whether they are civil servants or businessmen, to maintain close links with their old schools in rural Bhutan. With personal attention, they would be able to do so much more for their school and for the young students graduating from it. Doon school is of course different but the essence is the same. You give back to the institution that nurtured and shaped you and in doing so you share the fruits of your education with those that come after you. The bond between Doon school and her students has far deeper meaning than one sees at first, and the need for such bonds extends beyond Doon to other academic institutions, to societies and to nations. I commend the ‘Old Boys’ of Doon and say to you, that your example is one to be emulated.
To the students of Doon - I will keep my words short so you can enjoy the rest of your special day with your friends and family.
Youth is all about energy, action, playfulness, fun, mischief, learning, friendships – so many wonderful things. I envy you – you have so much to look forward to – your first kiss for some of you; first girlfriend; true love; riding a bike or driving a car or travelling away from home for the first time; the freedom of university life; the innocence and purity of youth … I envy you and I urge you, live your youth to the full. Celebrate these joyful urges. Enjoy everything that student life and youth have to offer.
When it is time to study – study. If you are going to play sports, do it with full drive and energy. Approach everything you do with passion and absorb and enjoy the experience whether you’re learning to play a guitar, climb mountains or hit a cricket ball. Enjoy your school life to the full. This is your time.
In this modern world, there is the danger that the force of competition and eagerness to overcome challenges ahead - will take out the joy in learning and growing. I know there are certain realities we face as children and as parents and that we are all trying to adapt to a changing world but challenges are a part of life - as you grow older life is going to bring enough of them: university admissions; getting the right job; failure; sorrow at the loss of loved ones; trying to keep up with your neighbours and colleagues; betrayal; sickness; the list is endless. But the fact that life is full of challenges does not mean that you should stop being young. Someone said, “Life is a marathon, don’t make a hundred meter dash today!” You will burn out early on in the race. Pace yourself wisely and remember it is not how you begin the game that matters it is how you’ve played it in the end. Yes, I know, all of you want to get into a good university but there is a big difference in preparing for university and preparing for life. In the preparation for life, there can be nothing better than a well-rounded education and wholesome growth of character. For that you have to live your life as a young man to the full.
Now, I must have read this many years ago in some magazine or on a greeting card. “Live each day as if it is the first you’ve ever seen and the last you’ll ever see.” I don’t think it means we should leave everything behind, be irresponsible and reckless and do whatever we want. No, it means, every day gives us the fresh chance to strive for something important to us – that it’s never too late to strive for greatness.
And if we imagine each day as the last day we’ll ever see - we gain the confidence to make the right choices in life – to aim for what our heart truly desires; we gain the confidence not to be carried by the current of other people’s thoughts; the guts to do what is right; to withstand the fear of failure or embarrassment; to push away the distractions and focus on what is truly valuable to us. You will even find the courage to finally speak to the girl of your dreams!
Today everything is about success. Everyone wants to be successful and in this day and age success is inevitably equated with money and power. But is that success? What is true success? This is a question philosophers might vex over! For me real success needs so many ingredients: a happy school life; true friendships; good health; a job one loves; a sense of worth to oneself and others; strong family relationships, good marriages; the ability to appreciate nature; living in harmony with others around us; so many things.
To make young boys crave for success in life today is to ask too much. But … to ask young boys to be good human beings – that I think is the right education.
You see, success in not an individual thing. As a student how successful are you really if you do not have true friendships and experiences that help you grow as young man? As a man, how successful are you if happiness as a son, father or husband eludes you? And finally as an Indian how can you truly succeed unless Mother India and your fellow Indian brothers and sisters succeed? As human beings we have an inherent duty to others. Thus, we will most likely find true success and happiness when we combine our ambitions and goals with being a good human being.
Where do you see yourself in the future? What do you want to achieve? What would make you happy when you turn 50 or 60 and look back on your life? Is it going to be one full of satisfaction and fulfillment or will it be one of regrets? I don’t know.
But the one thing I can tell you is that you are at the beginning of a long journey. You are young – life will be full of opportunities but as your life unfolds you will find life is not without challenges. The question is, at the end of it all, what is story of your life going to be?
Let me share my experience with you.
I always imagine my life as a book, not a real book but a book that I am engaged in writing. When I do this, I find that every moment brings the urge and energy to do something special, something worthy to write into the book. When I am confronted by some challenge, I find the opportunity to write a wonderful tale of hardship, suffering, hard work, determination and commitment. When faced by the temptation to take short cuts and cheat, the book serves as my conscience.
Doing this gives me wonderful perspective. I find that success does not go to my head and failure does not crush me. As events unfold, I am able to keep my eyes on the ultimate goal – to live a life without regret – a life that would make wonderful reading. After all, like anyone else, I want the story of my life to be as good as possible.
Please try it for yourself. It would make me so happy if it helps you… even a little. I pray that each of you will be a good human being leading honorable lives on which one day you will look back with great pride, satisfaction and fulfillment. Above all, I pray for your personal well-being and happiness.
Finally, to the families of students, I hope you do not mind that it is a young man from Bhutan – who has stood here speaking to your children about life – especially as I have no children of my own! Let me say I may not be an expert, but memories of my own childhood are very vivid while yours might be fading! I am of course joking.
On a serious note, even as King, I have no other duty than to work for the long-term future of my country. And because the obvious fact is that the future of a country must mirror the quality of her younger citizens, I spend most of my time with students and youth. It is one of the most enjoyable aspects of my work. I want to thank all the parents for giving me this opportunity to speak to your children, who no doubt, I will one day meet as leaders around the world.
Thank you all for listening to me. Students, I will be spending this evening with you. I look forward to conversing with you about whatever interests you have and things you want to talk about.
Thank you, Your Excellency. Thank you everyone. Shukriya!
(Delivered in English. Also present as guests were of Indian President Patil, Uttarakhand governor Margaret Alva, UttaraKhand chief minister Ramesh Pokriyal and Union HRD minister Kapil Sibal. Audience inclused eminent Doon alumni like Prannoy Roy of NDTV, Karan Thapar, minister Jyotiraditya Scindia and others)