Former education minister’s address at the 10th Indian Academy of Biomedical Sciences International Conference

7 May 2022, Era University, Lucknow.

As things stand, this 10th edition of the Indian Academy of Biomedical Sciences International Conference is a testament of faith, an act of courage, and an expression of hope. Over two years on, humanity continues to live under the shadow of Covid-19, the invisible enemy is still around, and we haven’t seen the last of its variants.

We lost millions of the members of our human family across the world, the old certainties no longer remained certainties, and the regular rhythm of our lives was thrown off balance. But the good news is that millions more have survived the scourge of the deadly virus and its variants and our societies are beginning to return to some semblance of the normal.

Despite the pain and privations unleashed by the unprecedented challenges, what became absolutely clear to men, women and children from coast to coast, country to country, continent to continent is the preciousness of life. Nothing matters more than life, as my most compassionate King so firmly believes in.

Yes, nothing matters more than life. And, that is the reason we are here. We were caught unawares but people like you – our scientists, researchers and medical professionals – rose to the challenge and gave to the world life-saving vaccines and vital services that have secured humanity from what could have been total decimation.

This conference is a tribute to that spirit of caring and healing – in honour of life and living. And, that affirmation of the primacy of life and the need to preserve the preciousness of life is, I believe, at the heart of your medical profession. 

I commend the bold vision of King George’s Medical University and Era University and hard work of the Organising Committee comprising the Departments of Biochemistry and Biotechnology respectively of your great seats of learning for making possible this confluence of great medical scholars, practitioners and policy-makers from around the world in your beautiful city of Lucknow of great awakenings and outstanding achievements.

As a privileged beneficiary of the extraordinary breakthroughs and support to life that you and your colleagues across the world have demonstrated, I would like to offer my highest tributes to all of you and your teams, no matter wherever you serve, for your incredible commitment to life and to its preservation.

In the course of the next two packed days, you will explore recent trends in biomedical research with particular emphasis on current challenges and future prospects. Your insights and experiences will contribute in significant ways to preparing our societies to meet future challenges as you apply your findings to serve humanity ever better at all times.

In your infinite generosity, Era University has considered it worth your while to undertake the publication of the Urdu edition of my little baby of a book titled My Green School. I would like to express my deep gratitude to the honourable Vice Chancellor, Professor Dr. Farzana Mahdi, for discovering some merit in my humble effort.

It is worth-noting that Era University is perhaps the only university in that world that has established a Department of Happiness inspired by the fact that doctors, nurses and medical staff who are happy and at peace with themselves will have a more positive attitude and serve the patients better and heal better.

I am truly grateful to Professor Subhi Zaidi for offering to grant a new life to my book through his inimitable mastery of the linguistic and literary richness of the great Urdu Language. I am indebted to Dr. Sabra Habib for gifting to the Urdu edition of My Green School her deep insights into the literary and linguistic nuances of one of the most beautiful languages of humanity, the language edified by the likes of Mirza Ghalib, Amir Khusro, Faiz and Firaq.

I have enjoyed working with amazing Dr. Shiraz Rizvi over many months as he led the important project on behalf of his University. Thank you, Dr. Rizvi, for your passion, energy and endurance that has produced this truly beautiful book. I am grateful to Nizami Press for accommodating our many changes and for their professional outlook.

Above all, I most grateful to Dr. Amrita Dass, Founder-Director, Institute for Career Studies, and Chair, Lucknow Global, for her incredible insights into the underlying theme of my little book that affirms education as the most vital instrument for human and societal flourishing in the timeless tradition of the Noble Sector of public service. But for her vision and initiative, the Urdu edition of My Green School wouldn’t have been possible.

Beyond and above all is the larger-than-life presence of His Majesty the Fourth King of Bhutan, Druk Gyalpo Jigme Singye Wangchuck, from whose all-embracing vision of Gross National Happiness my little book derives its vital life and sustaining energy.

It is worth-noting that Era University is perhaps the only seat of medical education in the world to have a fully-fledged Department of Happiness that has been established on the firm belief that if doctors, nurses and medical staff are happy and at peace with themselves, they are more positively disposed towards the human beings in their care and that they can serve better and heal better.

This conference is a tri-junction of Life.  The organising universities have themselves come into being with the primary goal of serving and supporting life through educaring in the original promise of the profession.  Life – bio – is the defining commitment of the Indian Academy of Biomedical Sciences. And ‘green’ in My Green School is not only the primary colour of Mother Nature, but a metaphor for Life in all its infinite variety.

Therefore, it is hardly a coincidence that all positive energies cohere in this conference in honour of Life – precious, various, and beautiful…

I am most grateful to the Organising Committee for your gracious decision to launch Shamme Aamozish at this august inaugural function of the important international conference.

It is my hope and prayer that the soul-message of my little book will bless the speakers, readers and writers of the many languages into which it has been translated.

I wish the conference every success and fulfillment and happiness to all of you as you look ahead.

Dhanyavaad, Tashi Delek, and Thank you!

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Thakur S Powdyel, former Minister of Education; Author: My Green School: An Outline for human and societal flourishing.