Mr. Skantha Sivakadachaiyar
Vice-president Finance, Carleton University Students Association

Youth Speaker at Gandhi Jayanti 2007 celebrations
in Ottawa, Ontario on September 29, 2007.
Full-text of the Speech: "Canadian Students & Gandhi"

[About the speaker]

Thank you Professor Salmond for the kind introduction.

Honored guest, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Namaste.

I am most honoured and pleased to be here today as we celebrate the unveiling of Kailash Mital Theater and participate in Gandhi Jayanti celebrations.

I have been asked to talk briefly about the connection between my generation of Canadian youth and Gandhiji. I must admit that in the days leading up to this afternoon’s inauguration, I have tried to sit down many times to put on to paper some speaking points… but would quickly find myself thinking: What can a mere student like myself say that could do justice to the Great Master? What can the over 20,000 Carleton University students have in common with such a great man that had such an impact on the lives of people across the world?

As soon as I calmed down after realizing how many people would show up for such an important event, I began to reflect on what kind of man Gandhi was, what kind of icon he became, and the kind of resolve that he took. However, in today’s uncertain world, there are many young and even old who lack resolve --- lack inspiration ---- and lack inner strength. In contrast, beloved Mahatma Gandhi embodied resolve, inspiration and inner strength like no other - a leader and visionary who never failed to live by his noble principles and beliefs.

We have gathered here to rename formerly Alumni Hall, in honour of, Mr. Kailash Mital, whose name represents the utmost peak of the Glorious Mount Kailash. New names often bring new beginnings, and I am sure that the name “Kailash Mital” will bring new associations to this room in which members of the Carleton University students/community can gather to learn and experience in the future, and we all here are very thankful for Mr. Mital and for his generous donation to our University. On behalf of the Carleton students, from the Carleton University Students’ Association, Mr. and Mrs. Mital, THANK YOU!

For example, today, when the term September 11th, or 9-11 is mentioned, an instant image of the New York Twin Towers flashes in our minds. But did you know that September 11th, 1906 was when Gandhiji - a 37-year-old lawyer, rose to address the packed Empire Theatre in Johannesburg. It was September 11th, 1906 when the Satyagraha movement was born by Mahatma Gandhi himself - a movement of nonviolent resistance. That would inspire generations of students and activists around the world. I hope that those who enter this room from now on will take a moment to ponder the greatness that this name inspires.

In a university environment students are able to explore their identity and realize their personal strengths and weaknesses. This type of environment, one that encourages discussion, learning, and being open to new things, is conducive for growing. University is the stadium during the key years of a person’s development where individuals begin to realize their potential. No one can foresee the future or what life has in store, but it is possible to realize great things in your life, as it is in mine.

Gandhi was married at a very young age. Upon reflection of the early years of his marriage, Gandhi has said he did not treat his wife as well as he should have. Gandhi grew to be a symbol for social change through passive resistance, and a symbol of love and respect for every human being throughout the world.

In the above sentence the word to focus on is grew. Gandhi did not begin his wise teachings or brave actions when he was very young; it was when he attended university. Gandhi began attending university in London in 1888. It was during this time Gandhi became very familiar with Hinduism, Islam and Christianity. Through his studies, formal and other, Gandhi began shaping the future he would realize and the legacy he would leave.

It is daunting to imagine what Gandhi did in his life, to imagine what he must have felt, physically and spiritually, as he crusaded for peace and independence in India. However, do not let the vastness of the thought overwhelm you. Rather, allow it to empower. Gandhi could not have predicted the change that he would go through, and impact he would have. As a student, what he had was potential to make change. Throughout his life, he realized this. Carleton Students have the same potential. This building, alumni hall, represents all those who have graduated from Carleton University to go on and realize their potential. No matter what people go through in life, the possibility to do amazing things never goes away.

Students come to university to learn. After completing a degree students walk away with more than a framed certificate of achievement, for the life experience gained through their late teens and early twenties shapes the type of human beings they become and how they will lead their lives. Learning occurring outside of the classroom walls is as essential to growing and living life to its fullest, as Gandhiji said: “Like sunlight and rain education must reach all...”.

At Carleton University students come from all over the world to learn, to change their own perspectives, and to broaden their horizons. We come to this place with one perspective and leave with a one that is completely different, and we do not just learn in the classrooms. We learn from the people we meet, the discussions we have about our lectures at Oliver’s over a coffee, or the often heated discussions at Mike’s Place over a drink. We often fall into a trap of thinking that we are only one of many ... what change can we alone make? When these thoughts come to my own young mind, I remind myself of Bapu's own words: continue to be the change that you wish to see in the world.

With Gandhiji as our example, inspiration and motivation, let us try to inculcate personal discipline, noble values and a true spirit of leadership among all students. Let this new name, Kailash Mital - the utmost peak of Glorious Mount Kailash be a reminder for all students to find their own noble inspiration and to reach higher ground.

Thank you.

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About the Speaker: Mr. Skantha Sivakadachaiyar is vice-president (Finance) at Carleton University Students' Association.

At 24 years old, Skantha Sivakadachaiyar has already made a major impact on his community. From Toronto, Skantha is the son of Kanaswami Thiagarajahkurukkal, the President and founder of the Sri Durka Hindu Temple, which brings together Indian Hindus for the past 16 years. Last summer, Skantha celebrated along with many community members, the momentous occasion of Nava Kodi Archana (90 million mantras), mantras being chanted for three years in the temple to promote peace and prosperity in the world.

With one semester left at Carleton University, Skantha is on the way to complete his Bachelor of Arts Honours, in Political Science with a concentration in International Relations and a minor in Religion.

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