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Teach children how to navigate misinformation and fake news

Addressing over 200 young participants at the ‘Times Scholars Event' through video conferencing, Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu, Vice President of India, said: “Teach children how to navigate misinformation and fake news that infest the media landscape, especially the new media environment these days.”
“A well-read student is definitely better prepared to overcome challenges in life.”

The event was hosted by The Times of India and focused on promoting reading, especially reading of newspapers among students.
Expresses concerns over the fall in the reading habit of children

The Vice President asked them to develop the ability to analyze and courage to accept the truth and discard the lies. Expressing disappointment over the fall in children's reading habits, the Vice

President highlighted the need to teach them to be intelligent and discerning readers amid the limitless information available today.

Quoting former President Dr. Kalam, Shri Naidu asked the students to “aim high and dream high.” Further describing the qualities required to realize one's dream, VP listed self-discipline, hard work, sincerity, perseverance, and the ability to maintain equanimity in all situations as very important.

The vice president observed that COVID induced disruption in academic schedule had caused anxiety and stress among many students. He advised students not to get disturbed as events are beyond one's control.

He told students: “All of you are young and need to develop a strong emotional quotient and weather ups and downs in life.”

Emphasizing the importance of Yoga and meditation to boost immunity in the wake of a pandemic, Shri Naidu wanted it to be included in the school curriculum from a young age.
He also advised students to practice Yoga regularly to improve their physical fitness, mental equilibrium, improve concentration, and overcome stress and anxiety.

He said: “Yoga will also help youngsters to improve your concentration levels and inculcate discipline.”

Drawing attention towards the tough competition in every field in present times, the Vice President advised the students to develop confidence and try to overcome all odds by striving to achieve excellence.

Please remember that there are no short-cuts to success, he told them.
Asking the students to not look upon education as a vehicle to acquire degrees and take up employment merely, Shri Naidu opined that the education is meant for enlightenment and empowerment of an individual.
“Education should equip the students with the requisite knowledge and must necessarily develop them into good human beings,” he said.

Maintaining that our ancient education system placed great emphasis on moral values, VP called for inculcating human values such as empathy, honesty, integrity, humility, gratitude, forgiveness, and respect for elders among the children.

Expressing the need to make the youngsters aware of India's glorious past, the Vice President wanted them to take pride in their heritage and history and serve as ambassadors of India's lofty cultural and civilizational ideals the world.

He exhorted the students to strive for excellence in whichever career path they chose and keep pushing the boundaries and find new frontiers.

He said: “Never be satisfied with the status quo. Always set higher benchmarks and create new and better systems wherever you go.”

The Vice President also wanted the students to understand the problems being faced by the world, such as poverty, inequality, violence, and climate change, and asked them to come up with new solutions for these.

Reminding the students of the powerful Talisman given by the Father of Nation, Shri Naidu hoped that they will always remember the plight of those who have been less fortunate.

Let Sarvodaya and Antyodaya be your guiding principles, he said.
He called India's youth power as its greatest resource today and expressed faith in youngsters' ability to take the country to greater heights.

Shri Sanjeev Bhargava, Director-The Times of India and Mirror Brands, Shri Vikas Singh, Associate Executive Editor, The Times of India, and others were present.

The following is the full text of the speech:

I am extremely delighted to participate virtually in this event hosted by ‘The Times of India' and share my thoughts with bright young minds.

As a matter-of-fact, it would have given me immense pleasure to meet with all the participants and interact with them. Unfortunately, the pandemic has created a new normal, and all of us need to get accustomed to virtual meetings for some more time.

I understand that you are among the best and brightest among India's students, chosen by Times of India through a rigorous process. I am told that nearly 3 Lakh aspiring youngsters participated in the competition and from whom 200 were selected. Let me convey my appreciation to the Times of India for this unique initiative.

I am happy to know that at the heart of the program is an endeavour to promote reading, especially reading of newspapers among students. I have always believed that a well-read student is definitely better prepared to overcome challenges in life and seize every opportunity that comes his or her way.

It is with great disappointment that I note the fall in the reading habit of children today. In today's world, where limitless information is available to us at the click of a button, we must teach our children to be intelligent and discerning readers.

We must teach them to gather in-depth information and inculcate the ability, the sagacity to analyze, critique, and the courage to accept what is good and categorically reject the bad.

Circumstances also demand that we teach them to navigate all the misinformation and fake news that infest the media landscape, especially today's new media environment. Like the legendary bird, the ‘hamsa', our children must be able to assimilate and absorb the truth and discard the lies.

I am certain that initiatives like the Times Scholar will certainly help mould a generation of scholarly youngsters who read to broaden their horizons, raise their aspirations and discover that reading and learning can be truly pleasurable activities.

Dear youngsters,

You are the future of our nation and will play a crucial role in the country's growth and development in the coming years. Of course, all of you will be choosing different careers–some might become doctors, while others might prefer to be engineers, lawyers, chartered accountants, architects, journalists and so and so forth. Some might also enter the political arena.

Irrespective of your's path, always remember to set high goals and work hard to realize them. As the former President, Dr Abdul Kalam often used to say “aim high and dream high”. However, mere goal-setting will not be enough. You need to come up with a concrete roadmap to achieve those goals. It requires self-discipline, hard work, sincerity, perseverance, and the ability to maintain equanimity in all situations.

For instance, the pandemic-led disruption in the academic schedule must have caused many students' anxiety and stress. In such circumstances, one should remain imperturbable and not get disturbed by events beyond one's control. All of you are young and need to develop a strong emotional quotient and the ability to weather ups and downs in life.

Dear students,

One of the most effective ways to improve physical fitness, maintain mental equilibrium, and overcome stress and anxiety is by practicing Yoga, the ancient Indian science and art. There appears to be a common misconception that Yoga consists of only physical exercises. It is a holistic mental, physical, and spiritual activity for the overall wellbeing of an individual.

In fact, there is a need to include Yoga in school curriculum across the country to enable children to learn it from a young age. In the wake of the pandemic, it has become all the more important to practice Yoga and meditation to boost immunity and protect one's health, both physical and mental.

Yoga will also help youngsters like you to improve your concentration levels and inculcate discipline.

Although these are the days of tough competition at all levels, you should not get daunted by any situation. Develop confidence and try to overcome all odds by striving to achieve excellence. Please remember that there are no short-cuts to success. Diligence, discipline and single-minded devotion are essential to realizing your dreams.

Dear students,

Do not look upon education as a vehicle to merely acquire degrees and take up employment. Education is meant for enlightenment and empowerment of an individual. As the Father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi had said: “By education, I mean an all-round drawing of the best in child and man in body, mind, and spirit.” Education should equip the students with the requisite knowledge and necessarily develop them into good human beings.

Education is not merely a transaction in knowledge and information. It must also be a relentless endeavour to inculcate morals and values in our youngsters. It is important to inculcate the values of empathy, honesty, integrity, humility, kindness, gratitude, forgiveness, and respect for elders among children.

India was once the Vishwaguru or the teacher to the world. Our education system placed an unwavering emphasis on developing righteousness and moral fiber in our youngsters. We must keep up this grand tradition.

Our history is also replete with stories of outstanding scholars, both men, and women, who led scientific discoveries that were much ahead of their time, authored enduring classics, and created timeless works of art and architecture. Our youngsters must be made aware of these heroes' stories and must be encouraged to explore and learn from the various facets of India's glorious history.

You must take great pride in our heritage and history and serve as ambassadors of India's lofty cultural and civilizational ideals, wherever in the world you decide to live and work. Irrespective of where you live, you must never forget mother, mother tongue, motherland, and Guru.

My dear young students,

As I said earlier, in this brave new world, you have the opportunity to pick any career of your choice. But whichever career path you choose, you must strive to excel.

If you choose to be a doctor, be a highly-skilled, efficient, and empathetic doctor. If you choose to be a soldier, be courageous and a person of integrity, honesty, and self-control. If you choose to build a business, let it be an ethical, humane one. If you wish to be a teacher, go beyond teaching and strive to impart enlightenment and help your students to be better human beings.

Whatever you choose to do, keep pushing the boundaries, and find new frontiers. Never be satisfied with the status quo. Always set higher benchmarks and create new and better systems wherever you go. Never hesitate to innovate to the best of your ability.
I also want you to be aware of the problems that the world faces today, from poverty and inequality to violence and displacement to climate change. I want you to observe keenly and understand the true nature and cause of these problems and develop new solutions.

The world is interconnected today more than ever before, and therefore, it is simply not enough to solve your country's problems alone. You must be truly global citizens in the sense that you must seek to solve problems that affect humanity. Only then will you truly realize the great mantra of our civilization, ‘Vasudhaiva kutumbakam'. To us, the world is and has always been one big family, interconnected and interdependent in the great web of life.

I also hope that you will always remember the plight of those who have been less fortunate than you. Let me remind you of the powerful Talisman that our nation's father gave us, which asked us to recall the face of the poorest and the weakest man we may have seen, every time a decision eludes us. We must keep asking ourselves if we have succeeded in restoring control over his destiny. We must keep asking ourselves if we have succeeded in bringing swaraj to these hungry and spiritually starving millions.

My dear young friends,

Let Sarvodaya and Antyodaya be your guiding principles.
Let your conscience be an ever-flowing fountain of empathy and compassion for those less fortunate than yourself.

Swami Vivekananda once said that “The great secret of true success, of true happiness, is this: the man or woman who asks for no return, the perfectly unselfish person, is the most successful.”

I hold great faith in the ability of our youngsters to take this country to greater heights.

India's youth power is its greatest resource today. I am confident that each of you will grow up to be educated, knowledgeable, dutiful, responsible, compassionate citizens of incorruptible integrity and unbreakable moral fiber.

I wish every one of you all the very best in your future endeavors.
Thank You!
Jai Hind!

Source: Press Release
ID: 1641527
Date: July 27, 2020
PIB Delhi


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