Monday, 22 May 2017

Convocation Ceremony Speech by Dr MK Bhan at IIHMR University

Dr MK Bhan’s speech
The Chairman and members of the IIHMR Board, Esteemed President of IIHMR, members of the faculty, IIHMR scholars and their respected families, all the distinguished  guests and invitees, the many friends who manage and support IIHMR, friends and colleagues.
I feel truly happy to be here today, in a city that I have loved for long, at an institution that has always inspired me and at an occasion when we celebrate the achievements of our young and worthy. Thank you for this opportunity. Truly honoured.
Today is an important milestone for our graduating scholars. Hearty congratulations to you all. It is a gratifying occasion for the families, a celebration of a role played well; for the faculty, an occasion to witness the fruits of their labour of love. There is no better way of spending life than nurturing the young and helping them become passionate, caring, effective members of the society. We are all blessed that our life and work is part of such an exciting mission.
Convocation is truly a time of celebration. Convocation is also an opportunity to invite the young scholars to reflect on the world they live in and the kind of life they may want to live.
The global community including our own cyclically drifts between optimism and cynicism. I am a perennial optimist. In more ways than not the world is a better place today. People live longer, they live better, they are healthier, more people have access to education and health, and there are fewer poor people today than before. Access to information is growing and people are more connected than ever before. Technology is transforming multiple facets of life even at the bottom of the social pyramid.  A child in Africa and South East Asia gets the same vaccines as the one born in America or Europe, fewer children die early in life, as is also true for women during pregnancy. It is good to look at how full the glass is than how empty it is.
It is at the same time unwise to be euphoric and ignore the massive unmet needs and challenges at home, and world at large; lack of trust, social and economic disparity, poor environment and climate, lack of access to basic services, lack of security and empowerment of women, utter disregard for evidence and facts, which are increasingly replaced by prejudice and unsubstantiated opinion. Many of the young, the disadvantaged and elderly are still unsafe. People live longer but this extended life is often neither secure nor graceful?
Is optimism then justified? I believe so because humans have shown resilience as a species to solve problems on an unprecedented scale. To succeed then we need   a scientific approach to life, an ability to generate and deploy knowledge and technology for shaping a better, fairer, interesting, more secure world and the nation. This is what IIHMR has prepared you for and this is the mission that we charge you with today.  This is what wiser of the parents and elders of our society have always taught us.
To preserve our beautiful country, culture and people, we must learn to separate noise from clarity, we must act as we would like others to do, and we must listen as much as we teach. One is only as educated as the way live and act in life. Knowledge is of value only when translated into good practices.
India is alive and living. What a time to be young, in a country that feels young. There is hope and positivism today.
We are a young population. The true potential of a young nation can be realized if we nurture the young through education blended with life experience. It is experience that helps us to answer the most critical of questions- who am I, what is my gift, my purpose, what is the life I want to live, the person I want to be? Education provides the perspective to interpret and understand our experience but it is the latter that gives the insight. I urge all the young scholars to live a life that is full, to immerse in the community and the society around you.  You cannot discover yourself without connecting with those around you.
India needs a workforce but also leadership in every sphere of life. Leadership can be at any level, on any scale and in any context. Leadership is a declaration of intent to strive for excellence, to accept responsibility for people and issues beyond oneself, to accept accountability for ones contributions and actions by others. Wonderful institutions such as IIHMR provide scholars like you, the opportunity to acquire skill as well as leadership ability.  This period at IIHMR will guide you in the future journey.
I have often wondered what separates leaders in different fields and sectors from other good men and women. I believe a vision, an ability to visualize tomorrow, the grasp of the big picture of life and this universe is the most critical. Worthy men and women acquire unique attraction by a mix of values and adaptability, compassion and ability to forgive, respect for both creativity and service and the ability to feel responsible for others in addition to self. Leaders never stop to learn. Extraordinary people have stable values but they are also highly adaptive to changing circumstances. This is what nature and evolutionary biology also teaches us. What is true for extraordinary individuals also characterizes exceptional countries and states. I invite you all, young scholars to embark on this journey of acquiring leadership. Live life in a way that graces life itself.
The story of IIHMR is itself a lesson in leadership. Its founders realized a need for science and evidence driven public health at a time when our country was preoccupied with sick people than sick populations. Famous doctors advised political leaders because there were very few public health professionals. As I observed the IIHMR family over the years, there was much to admire and learn from. The IIHMR family has a modest way of handling its successes, it is also honest in recognizing that the journey to excellence is unending, it is willing to adapt to changing time and needs. You all should feel proud of being part of this family of institutions as I am.
IIHMR has recognized the need for quality human resource at tertiary, secondary and primary care levels. It has brilliantly linked education in facility care and management with public health education. Its programs reflect awareness of the importance of technology in health systems and hospitals. IIHMR significantly contributes to generation of evidence and its synthesis for shaping policy at state and center level. It is a dependable ally and a trusting collaborator for all those engaged in pursuit of universal health care.. It emphasizes through its educational and other efforts, the inescapable link between addressing social determinants of health and the care of the sick. The excellent professionals produced have significantly contributed to improving management and processes in our institutions and systems. I wish a great future for the IIHMR network of institutions and express my deep respect for the leadership. The main barrier to achieving universal health care in India is shortage of human resource. We need an accelerated effort by all concerned to achieve in a decade what might otherwise take a quarter of a century.
Finally, my heartfelt congratulations to all the scholars, to their families and their teachers. I wish you all a bright future, a life rich in experience, accomplishment and contribution. Do remember, in the end it is about making our  fellow citizens and the environment they live in healthier, more secure and full of grace. Said the father of the nation, “practice science with humanism”. Your journey of action begins today. Safe travel.

Jai Hind !