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‘It’s the youth who make a nation great’

Apeejay Stya University hosted a webinar on ‘National Unity and the role of the youth’ on October 30 in which students learnt about religious tolerance and steps for the nation’s betterment



Rotaract club, Apeejay Stya University, in association with NSS (National Service Scheme), organised a webinar on the theme ‘National unity and the role of the youth’ on October 30.  Colonel J A Rocque (retired), Former head and founder of Sainik Schools, presided over the webinar.

Col Rocque began his address to the students by highlighting the purpose of celebrating the National Unity day. He said, “It is celebrated to bring everyone together. There is such a huge diversity in this nation, it is very difficult to bind us together. What binds us all is the national flag. The feeling that our country comes first, that is the way.”

Colonel Rocque highlighted the transition in the nation’s attitude towards the youth. He stated, “The overall mentality has changed towards the youth in almost all aspects, even in politics.  The aged are expected to guide and there is an increasing emphasis on the young to take charge and lead”.  

He added, “A student has 30 hours a day, that 24 hour concept is gone. You are supposed to utilise the extra 6 hours you have for your development, your neighbour and your nation’s well-being. One extra step every day should be the approach. For it is only the youth that makes the nation great.” He further elaborated on his argument and said, “The concept of the present world is smart and not hard work. If you have the potential and desire, then no one can stop you. Society moves around the youth. The government makes its plans keeping the youth in consideration. Jobs, welfare, everything is woven around the life and challenges of the youth.”

Addressing the issue of increasing religious non-tolerance in the nation, Colonel Rocque said, “Our educational institutions are great levellers. Once we all sit in the class, we are all one.  All differences of class, caste, religion, culture fade away. Everyone is united in the class. You see that especially when students decide to bunk a class and everyone does it together (laughs).” He added, “Religious tolerance is a must and the youth must focus on cultivating and practising it.”

Colonel JA Rocque (retd) addressing the Webinar on ‘National Unity and the Role of the Youth’ organised by Rotaract Club, Apeejay Stya University, in association with the NSS

Speaking on his tenure in the armed forces he mentioned that the armed forces are the best example of national unity in the country.  He said, “We represent ‘Sarva Dharmasthal’ i.e. a place where people from all faiths come together. In the army we had one common place of worship. It had a temple, a small chapel, a mosque and a gurudwara and we all went there. The food in the forces is prepared according to the religion one follows. On the same table, an officer who eats vegetarian and another who eats non-vegetarian food, eat together. We do not force anyone. This is an example for the nation.” He further added, “I follow Christianity though I am not very strict about it. I was commissioned in the Rajput Battalion. I was involved in the temple services there as a part of my duty. I used to sit with a bhajan mandali (troop of devotees who sing hymns) and sing the bhajans. As a man of the army, I followed my troop’s religion.  I participated in the havans as well. I very proudly say that I learned the aartis by heart and enjoyed singing them aloud with others.”

Supriya Chaudhary, student, ASU asked a very pivotal question in the Q&A session. She asked, “What should the youth of the nation do to put an end to the communal riots plaguing this country?”

Colonel Rocque replied, “In my 25 years in the armed forces we respected each other a lot, we celebrated each other’s festivals in a proper manner with all rituals and customs. The more TV you watch, the more confused you get. I would just say, listen, see, think and do for yourself, don’t believe too much in the media.”

In response to another question about students desiring to do something constructive for society but not being able to do so due to financial crunches, Colonel Rocque gave his own example to students. He said, “I am working in an organisation for the benefit of the transgender community and physically disabled children. But I do not donate any money.  I give them a huge part of my time and honest efforts.  Don’t let financial problems stop you from doing something good. Your own strength and might should be utilised to help people.”

As a concluding thought, he made all students and teachers pledge to preserve the unity, security and integrity of the nation through their actions.

“Sardar Patel is a real hero for all Indians, particularly the youth of the country. He sacrificed so much throughout his life just for the sake of India’s unity and lived a very simple life, which is quite unthinkable for a leader of such a high stature. We feel proud in organising an event in his memory and we pledge to do our bit to ensure national unity.”

-Dr. Vijay Kumar, Assistant Professor, Apeejay Stya University

Arijit Roy is a young correspondent at Apeejay Newsroom. He has done his masters in English literature from Delhi University and has a book of poems published by Writers Workshop India. He can be reached at [email protected]