Embassy of India
Annual Day of Indian School Darsait
10th November 2022
Remarks by Ambassador Shri Amit Narang
The X factor for excellence – 4 pronged matrix for learning
Chairman, Board of Director Indian Schools,
Current and former members of School Management Committee,
Grand Parents and parents,
I am honored to be invited to the Annual Day of Indian School Darsait. This is my first participation in a function of Indian School Darsait and I look forward to the opportunity of visiting the school soon.
Indian School Darsait has been serving the Indian diaspora for three decades now. Ever since it was set up way back in 1992, the contributions and achievements have been plentiful and noteworthy. For this, all those who have worked to bring laurels to the school deserve our wholehearted appreciation.
I listened carefully to the progress report presented by the Principal just now. The achievement of the school during the difficult pandemic times in both in academic and co-curricular fields speak volumes about the determination, dedication and hard work of the students and teachers alike.
I have said this before and have no hesitation in repeating that the Indian schooling system in Oman is the backdrop for the highly successful and vibrant Indian diaspora in this country and Indian School Darsait is certainly no exception to this fruitful legacy.
While I appreciate that the annual day celebration is also for parents to witness their wards in action, I cannot but take this opportunity to share some of my thoughts with the talented students of ISD.
In the daily deluge of information and news that bombards our senses everyday, two recent events are relevant for the issue I want to talk about.
The first was the appointment of Mr. Rishi Sunak as the Prime Minister of Great Britain. That an Indian origin son of an immigrant family has risen to the highest position in that country is indeed remarkable. The second related news was the dismissal of Parag Agarwal as the CEO of Twitter by its new billionaire owner.
You may be wondering how news of one appointment and another dismissal are connected, but they are. Both are about people of Indian origin climbing the greatest heights of global politics and corporate ladders. In the latter case unfortunately about falling from them, but that doesn’t detract from the point I am trying to make.
The common thread that binds such stories of Indian excellence in the global arena is - education.
All such stories of Indians excelling all around the world, including the diaspora in this country, are of simple committed Indians placing their destinies in the safe hands of education and hard work.
That is indeed the defining leitmotif of the Indian republic and its foundational creed of equality of all. That no matter your status or background, education is the only ladder for social, economic and political progress.
And on the global stage, education has been the passport for success for Indians.
As children of hardworking parents, you are fortunate for being in the education ecosystem of Indian schools in Oman. Your success in the future will depend on how much and how will you are able to draw from this ecosystem and give yourself a solid base for future success.
Most of all, you should remember the central importance of education as the vehicle for success and continue to pursue your education with diligence and drive.
But what constitutes good education?
Good Teachers? Good parents? Good resources?
Surely all of the above. But we know of students who managed to achieve the pinnacle of excellence in their fields even without formal education. You are familiar of course with the story of Eklavya.
We also know of kids doing well despite lack of support at home. And we in India are aware of hundreds of examples of children from very deprived backgrounds successfully reaching the heights of excellence in different fields.
So what then is that golden attribute that determines success as a student?
What is that X factor for excellence?
Surely hard work will rank very highly in that list, if not at the top of it.
I will propose to you however that that most important attribute is your attitude.
“Your attitude determines your altitude”.
I specifically mean your attitude to learning.
What kind of a learner are you? Are you merely digesting the information that is thrown at you, or are you seeking knowledge. In other words, are you a digester or a seeker?
I wish to propose to you a 4-pronged matrix for learning. Four ways which could help you become a better learner.
First, you have to train yourself to learn from everything.
There is a saying in Sanskrit that reminds us that:
In other words, there is no sound that is not a mantra, no plant that is not medicinal; there is no person that is unworthy, what is lacking is an 'enabler'. The one who knows the value of these things and makes use of these things.
There is magic in everything and a little secret behind each object you use. Spare some time in understanding these.
In the same sense, every incident teaches us something. Learn to decode what is happening around you. Learn to draw lessons from mundane things that always have lessons hidden deep inside.
Each moment is important as a learning opportunity. To paraphrase noted physicist Prof. Richard Feynman, good moments give happiness, bad moments give experiences, worst moments give lessons, and best moments give memories.
Second, learn from everyone.
We are often conditioned to believe that we learn only from our teachers. I do not wish to underestimate the importance of teachers or formal teaching.
But our attitude has to be of finding a teacher in everyone.
Confucius, the Chinese sage, said “ 三人行必有�'市”(San ren xing, bi you wo shi). This means that if there are 3 people walking on the street, there is surely one I can learn from.
We must inculcate this humility of learning in our minds. This prepares us to believe that everyone out there has something valuable to contribute, to expand our understand, to teach us something new.
This humility is a liberating feeling and also incredibly empowering. Everyone out there can teach you something. You just have to be broad minded enough to channelize that education and benefit from it.
Third, learning about your surrounding.
Most of us muddle through life, rarely making an effort to look up and appreciate the surroundings and the environment we are living in. The problem has been compounded by the mobile phones in our hands. Prolonged staring at the phone is not just bad for your eyes and your neck, it is also bad for your intellect.
Instead of watching those videos, look around you. Spare some time everyday to just observe things around you, consciously and with a sense of enquiry. You will find that you will learn, even if that learning is imperceptible.
Fourth, learn to ask why.
“Why?” is the most useful tool in our learning tool kit but we don’t use it enough.
Somewhere along the line, we have been conditioned to stop asking why and just accept facts, concepts and notions as we they are given to us.
Reject the norm. Learn to ask the most important question.
‘Why’ is a simple but a very powerful question. Not easy to answer.
And it also opens many new doors, to concepts, things and ideas you never dare to question in routine.
Asking ‘why’ is easier now as you can easily find the answers on your internet search engine. You will find that sometimes the most ridiculous of why’s can throw up hitherto unknown dimensions of knowledge.
A correctly asked ‘why’ can be life-changing as it direct you into a rabbit hole of discovery and fun.
Practice these 4 ideas about learning and see if they make a difference to your education. I am confident that not only will your grades improve, but you also will inculcate the habit of lifelong learning, which is so essential in tomorrow’s world, your world.
For now, please enjoy your Annual Day!
Celebrate it with pride, with ownership and with gratitude to your parents and your wonderful teachers.
Thank you. Namaskar. Jai Hind!