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Fernandes urges youth to fight corruption

MYSORE, JAN. 10. Terrorism and corruption are the twin challenges facing the country, and the youth should combat them if India is to achieve great heights, according to the Defence Minister, George Fernandes. Speaking at the golden jubilee celebrations of Sri Ramakrishna Vidyashala here today, Mr. Fernandes lamented that corruption existed in all spheres.

He said the state of affairs made it difficult for men of honesty to survive. There was no patriotism, and materialism had taken over the people. Tremendous efforts were needed to change the situation, he said.

Mr. Fernandes pointed out that in a country where 50 per cent of the people struggled for existence, the projection of conspicuous consumption in commercials and "promotion of greed" in the media were an invitation to the poor to revolt. These were creating social problems which needed to be addressed, he added.

He said "making money'' seemed to be the only objective for many people. Although there was nothing wrong in accumulating wealth, it should not result in depriving the poor of what rightfully belonged to them. He quoted late Rajiv Gandhi, and said that of every Rs. 100 released by the Centre towards development works, Rs. 85 was siphoned off, and only the rest reached the needy. The situation was no different today after so many years, and the youth of the country should fight this, he added. Mr. Fernandes complimented Sri Ramakrishna Vidyashala for laying emphasis on character building and providing holistic education to its students. Character building and quality education inspired by the teachings of Swami Vivekananda were imparted to the students of the institution, he said.

He recalled Swami Vivekananda's comments on the West, and said that some of his observations, including one on conflict fuelled by human greed in the U.S. and Europe, had come true. "Such was the perspicacity of Swami Vivekananda, who saw 100 years ago what we are witnessing today,'' the Minister said.

Swami Vivekananda had remarked that patriotism without integrity was a fraud, Mr. Fernandes said. Patriotism was not only about singing the national anthem but also about commitment and integrity.

Deviprasad Shetty of Narayana Hridayalaya, who addressed the students, said the country would have the best medical facilities in the next few years due to the policy initiatives of the Government.

But there would be a severe shortage of doctors and paramedical staff in the next few years. The Government was set to launch a health insurance programme for 3.5 million teachers and non-teaching staff and their family members. The Bangalore Mahanagara Palike was introducing health insurance for 14,000 workers. Such programmes would create more opportunities for doctors to serve society, he added.

M.C. Nanaiah, MLC, commended Sri Ramakrishna Vidyashala for its contribution to education. Senior pontiffs of Sri Ramakrishna Ashram including Swami Sureshananda, Swami Muktidananda, and Swami Atmavidananda, were present.

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