Every single one of us has something we are good at. Every single one of us has something to offer. And we have a responsibility to ourself to discover what that is. That’s the opportunity an education can provide. Maybe you could be a good writer – maybe even good enough to write a book or articles in a newspaper – but you might not know it until you write a paper for your English class. Maybe you could be an innovator or an inventor – maybe even good enough to come up with the next iPhone or a new medicine or vaccine – but you might not know it until you do a project for your science class. Maybe you could be a Minister or a MP or a Supreme Court Justice, but you might not know that until you join the school debate team.
And this isn't just important for your own life and your own future. What you make of your education will decide nothing less than the future of this country. What you’re learning in school today will determine whether we as a nation can meet our greatest challenges in the future.We need every single one of us to develop our talents, skills and intellect so you can help solve our most difficult problems. If you don’t do that – if you quit on school – you’re not just quitting on yourself, you’re quitting on your country. Where you are right now doesn’t have to determine where you’ll end up. No one’s written your destiny for you. Here in India, you write your own destiny. You make your own future. Our present Prime Minister has shown that even a 'chaiwalla' can become the most important person in the country!
Sometimes, we get the sense from TV or movies that you can be rich and successful without any hard work - that your ticket to success is through dancing or cricket or being a movie star, when chances are, you’re not going to be any of those things.But the truth is, being successful is hard. You won’t love every subject you study. You won’t click with every teacher. Not every homework assignment will seem completely relevant to your life right this minute.
And you won’t necessarily succeed at everything the first time you try. That’s OK. Some of the most successful people in the world are the ones who’ve had the most failures. JK Rowling’s first Harry Potter book was rejected twelve times before it was finally published. Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team, and he lost hundreds of games and missed thousands of shots during his career. But he once said, "I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed."
These people succeeded because they understand that you can’t let your failures define you – you have to let them teach you. You have to let them show you what to do differently next time. If you get in trouble, that doesn’t mean you’re a troublemaker, it means you need to try harder to behave. If you get a bad grade, that doesn’t mean you’re stupid, it just means you need to spend more time studying.
No one’s born being good at things, you become good at things through hard work. You’re not a College athlete the first time you play a new sport. You don’t hit every note the first time you sing a song. You’ve got to practice. It’s the same with your schoolwork. You might have to do a math problem a few times before you get it right, or read something a few times before you understand it, or do a few drafts of a paper before it’s good enough to hand in. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. Asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of strength. It shows you have the courage to admit when you don’t know something, and to learn something new. The story of India isn't about people who quit when things got tough. It’s about people who kept going, who tried harder, who loved their country too much to do anything not less than their best.
Students who sat where you sat 20 years ago who founded Google, Twitter , Facebook and Whatsapp and changed the way we communicate with each other. So today , what’s your contribution going to be? What problems are you going to solve? What discoveries will you make?
Your parents, your teachers, and the school are doing everything they can to make sure you have the education you need to answer these questions. They are working hard to fix up your classrooms and get you the books, equipment and computers you need to learn. But you've got to do your part too. So you need to get serious this year. We expect you to put your best effort into everything you do. We expect great things from each of you. So don’t let us down . Make us all proud. I know you can do it. Best wishes,