Prof. P.J. Kurien, Hon'ble Deputy Chairman, Rajya Sabha

Shri Mathew T. Thomas, Hon'ble Minister for Water Resources,

Shri Jose K. Mani MP,

Shri Suresh Kurup MLA,

Swami Gururatnam Jnaana Tapaswi, Organizing Secretary,

 Shantigiri Ashram,

Dr. Mani Puthiyidom, Director, Catholic Federation of India,

Adv. P.P. Joseph, President, Catholic Federation of India,

Shri Mathew Kollamalakarottu, Programme Co-ordinator,

Friends in the Media,

Priyappetta Sahodaree Sahodaranmare,

Ellaavarkkum Ente Namaskaaram,


I am very happy to address you after presenting the Pope John Paul the Second Memorial Excellence Awards to two well known individuals - Prof. P.J. Kurien and Rev.
Fr. Johnny Edakkara and two institutions – the Amal Jyothi College and the K.E. School. 

       Let me at the outset, compliment the Catholic Federation of India for its decision to institute an award in the name of Pope John Paul the Second, whose efforts to unite different religions through the message of love and service are well known. The world loved him as an outspoken opponent of Apartheid in South Africa and as one who spoke against Capital punishment. Credit goes to him for completing a full-scale reform of the legal system of the Catholic Church. Pope John Paul the second was, in short, excellence personified and it is befitting that you had instituted the award in his name.

       I understand that as a voluntary organization, Catholic Federation of India works in co-ordination with the Church as well as society at large to promote moral and upright values.  Its involvement in charitable, social and humanitarian endeavors and inter-religious harmony have been widely appreciated.  This award, which has been in existence for the past 12 years is known to  serve as a platform both to express appreciation for someone's services and to encourage and motivate them work with renewed commitment in their respective fields.  It is commendable that the awards recognize the services in fields as diverse as education, culture, environment, health, public administration, agriculture, charity and social work

        As we all know, Excellence is a continuous process and not something that happens by accident. This is evident in the style of working and contributions of Prof. P.J. Kurien, who is one of the awardees. I had mentioned in another function yesterday about his style of working as the Deputy Chairman, Rajya Sabha. Prof. Kurien, who has served six terms in the Lok Sabha, has shown exceptional maturity while handling the hottest debates in the Rajya Sabha, with an exceptionally cool smile. All of us in Kerala can be proud of his conduct as a Parliamentarian, a former minister and above all, one who could win the unconditional love and support of even his political adversaries. He has shown by example what it is to be a real leader of the people and how his leadership should be utilized to serve the masses.  

Today's award for Excellence in Socio-Charitable Endeavorsgoes to Rev. Fr. Johnny Edakkara, whose service has mainly been in the form of palliative care. In a country where nearly one million new cases of cancer occur each year, Palliative care becomes the only relief for patients in the advanced stages of the disease. When we realize that less than one percent of people have access to palliative care in India, one can imagine the magnitude of the issue.  It is
here that the service of Rev. Fr. Johnny Edakkara and his  SnehaDeepam Palliative Care Centre in Vellore-Tamil Nadu  deserve our salute for the work they have been doing in the last four decades. One who knows about Fr. Edakkara would certainly recall Mahatma Gandhi's saying that there is no better prayer to God than working to mitigate the suffering of others.

       I also congratulate Rev. Dr. Mathew Paikatt, Manager, who received the award for excellence in Professional education on behalf of Amal Jyoti College of Engineering, Kanjirappally and Rev. Fr James Mullassery who received the award for excellence in school education on behalf of K.E. School, Mannanam. They both represent the field of  Education, which is perhaps the most important investment in any society. 

       I have been closely watching the education sector in Kerala ever since I assumed office as Governor of Kerala. This State has been leading in terms of general education, but in higher education, we have miles to go in terms of quality.  As Chancellor of the universities, I have tried to motivate the universities to improve their quality through the institution of a Chancellor's award. I must say that we have seen a lot of improvement especially in the number of varsities figuring in the national ranking framework and in the number of colleges getting A grade in National Assessment and Accreditation Council’s[NAAC] accreditation. I am happy that the Amal Jyothi College has got the accreditation of NAAC as well as National Board of Accreditation [NBA] which is mandatory for engineering institutions.

       I would request both the educational institutions to give priority to imparting life skills to students, because, the future job markets require 21st century skills to which our students need to be introduced right from the school years. At the same time, educational managers should ensure that education should empower students not only in finding jobs but also in understanding the problems of the world and above all, in finding solutions that would benefit the lowest sections of society.


       I sincerely hope that the Excellence awards would motivate these educational institutions to ensure a greater refinement of their students, in their knowledge, character and in their love for fellow-beings.

       Once again, I congratulate all the awardees and hope that this recognition motivates them to contribute more to society. I hope that the younger generation would be greatly inspired by the qualities of these extraordinary men.

I compliment the Catholic Federation of India for conducting this function in a befitting manner.  My best wishes to everyone present here.

Ellavarkkum Ente Aashamsakal


Jai Hind