Udhagamandalam: Students should endeavour to do their institutions and district proud, said the Tourism Minister, A. Miller, while participating as the chief guest at a `Youth Awakening' function organised by the Nilgiris district administration and the Tamil Nadu AIDS Control Society here on Friday.
Stating that students should be wary of distractions and never lose self-control, he said that their focus should always be only on education. He exhorted the students not to rest till they achieved their goals.
Pointing out that persons in the age group of 18-25 were most vulnerable with regard to falling victim to the dreaded malady AIDS, he said the State Government had set up as many as 275 testing centres in various parts of the district to enable persons to find out whether they were HIV positive. Optimum use should be made of such facilities.
Adverting to the different maladies, which had threatened mankind over the years, Mr. Miller said that while factors like adverse climate and environment had led to epidemics, AIDS was a creation of human beings. As a result, it was possible for the people to prevent its spread. In keeping with this, the State Government had recently launched a high profile campaign to tackle the problem. Since Chief Minister Jayalalithaa was according high priority to development of women, a number of schemes were being implemented for their benefit. The concept of Self-Help Groups had become a way of life.
The Nilgiris Collector, C. Vijayaraj Kumar, who presided, said that the student community had played a key role during the month-long AIDS awareness campaign in various parts of the Nilgiris. Consequently, the people now knew more about various aspects of the malady. He added that a healthy society could be ensured only if the youth took good care of their health.
The Joint Director of Health, G. Bawa Fathrudeen, said that if the AIDS-related problems were not tackled, the economy of the country would suffer. At the global level, India stood second after Africa in the total number of HIV/AIDS cases.
The District Social Welfare Officer, M. Gnana Guru, said that by not succumbing to temptations, the youth would not only be saving themselves but also their family and country. The disease was a grave threat to humanity.
The Chief Educational Officer, C. Selvaraj, said that the youth should shoulder the responsibility of making India an AIDS-free country.
The Principal, Government Arts College, A. Samuel Leslie, said that in the absence of a vaccine, education and awareness were the only weapons to combat the disease. The Director, Pengal Munnetra Sangam, M. Needhi Guruswamy, the head, Tamil Department, Government Arts College, N. Manickavasagam and a school student, Sandhya, also spoke. The NSS Programme Officer, V. Azhagar Ramanujam, welcomed the gathering. The District Extension Educator, S. Raman, proposed a vote of thanks.
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