Shri E.P. Jayarajan, Hon'ble Minister for Industries & Sports,

Shri Prabha Varma, President, N. Ramachadran Foundation,

Shri I.M. Vijayan, Recipient of the Award,

Shri U. Vimal Kumar, Dronacharya Awardee,

Dr. G. Kishore, Director, Lakshmibai National College of Physical Education,

Shri P.P. James, Secretary, N. Ramachadran Foundation,

Priya Madhyama Suhruthukkale,

Dear Sisters and Brothers,

Ellavarkkum Ente Namaskaram.

I am delighted to be here in response to your invitation to present the 05th N Ramachandran Foundation Award for Excellence. First I would like to offer my congratulations to Shri I.M. Vijayan, one of India's finest footballer, who is the recipient of the award. I also offer my congratulations to

Shri Vimal Kumarwho has been warmly felicitated today.

The office bearers of the N. Ramachandran Foundation deserve appreciation for deciding to confer this honor on   Shri I.M. Vijayan, whose life has often been hailed as a metaphor for Indian football. This award is also a recognition of the role played by football in bestowing on Kerala, the status of a formidable power in the national sports arena.

The importance of football to the health of young people can be appreciated from an anecdote associated with Swami Vivekananda.

Once a young man, who looked very weak and sick approached Swamiji and sought guidance as he desired to acquire spirituality by studying the immortal classic Bhagwad Gita. Swami looked at him and said: “You will be nearer to heaven by playing football than studying the Bhagavad-Gita.” Quite a few people may be baffled by this remark. 

Actually what Swami Vivekananda said to the boy was that first he to ought to improve his health, become strong in body and mind in order to imbibe and translate into his life, the bold message of the Song Celestial.

Obviously, the boy was in तमोगुण, and so, as the Bhagavad-Gita itself counsels, ‘one must get over तमोगुण, which is lethargy and lack of proper understanding, by cultivating रजोगुण, or activity, dynamism’.

Elsewhere the Shastras assert शरीरमाध्यमखलुधर्मःसाधनमmeaning that the body is the means to the attainment of all Dharma or right living or thinking.

Late N. Ramachandran, in whose name the award has been instituted, was a veteran journalist who continued to write for his paper Kerala Kaumudi almost till his last day. He was a man of letters whose leader articles often persuaded policy makers to rethink and created an awareness in the public to make an informed choice on vital issues. For him, the editorial was both the medium and the message which strengthened democracy.

As we recall the services of the Late N. Ramachandran, we are reminded of a versatile personality who was equally at ease amidst the workers and the political activists before he opted for journalism. He represented the journalism of courage and commitment and his writings in Kerala Kaumidi were informed by remarkable sensitivity and social concern.

I am informed that Former President, the Late K.R. Narayanan had once acknowledged that it was an editorial in Kerala Kaumudi that contributed significantly to his rise to the presidency.

The force of his editorials always reminded that when the power of the pen is exercised with fairness and a sense of duty to the reader and the community, then it becomes impossible for the establishment to ignore it.

It is clear from his writings that to Shri N. Ramachandran, journalism was much more than a profession. He understood the institution and was fully aware of how it affects people both individually and collectively and how it impacts the minds and conscience of men and he used this medium to educate, stimulate and inspire his readers very effectively.

As we extol the contributions of an extraordinary journalist like Shri N. Ramachandran, I would like to take this opportunity to impress upon the young journalists to emulate his example.

Those who aspire to rise to the heights must always remember what has been asserted by a renowned journalist that comment is free but facts are sacred and using this medium for propaganda is totally unwholesome. Comment also is justly subject to a self-imposed restraint. It is well to be frank; it is even better to be fair. This is an ideal.

Here I must also make mention of the significant contribution of the media in the promotion of sports and in creating awareness about the importance of sports particularly for our young women and men. In this regard this event becomes all the more important as the foundation set up in the name of a celebrated journalist has presented the award for excellence to a celebrated sportsman.

The Award, instituted in 2014 has so far recognized excellence in Journalism, Public Service, Literature and Environmental protection.  This year, it has rightly chosen a sports person whose excellence in his chosen field is Kerala’s pride.

Shri I.M. Vijayan's rise from humble beginnings to the most celebrated footballer of Kerala and one of the highest earners in club football is a unique inspirational story of sheer talent and determination. The world of football can never forget those historic 12 seconds, within which he scored one of the fastest ever international goals in a match against Bhutan in 1999.  His unique Free-kicks, overhead kicks and goals from the most improbable angles had transformed him into a national heartthrob.  

But, there is one more thing which is very admirable in Shri Vijayan. He spent his entire career in India until retirement, even though he received many invitations from abroad. That sense of belonging to his home-ground is, to me, a reflection of his sturdy patriotism. 

This Arjuna Awardee and three times Indian Player of the Year, continues to inspire the young generation of footballers. That inspiration and devotion to the game, is what excellence is all about.

It was English writer George Orwell who wrote that 'Serious sport is war minus the shooting'.  Sport has grown beyond the playground to invoke the spirit of national unity and every victory on the ground becomes a matter of national pride. 

Journalism, too, is a war fought with pen, alphabets, ideas and ethics fought against forces that tend to promote obscurantism, regression and sectional animosities.

The goals set by journalistic work should result in the sustenance of a well informed society, strengthened by social harmony assuring the dignity of the individual made happier through welfare.

I sincerely hope that the activities of N. Ramachandran Foundation would continue to celebrate the real power of responsible journalism. 

Once again, I congratulate Shri I.M. Vijayan and Shri Vimal Kumar on being honored today and hope that sports in Kerala would benefit from their expertise and advice.

I also compliment the N. Ramachandran Foundation for organizing this function in a befitting manner. 

I would like to conclude with a word or two on journalism :

മാദ്ധ്യമപ്രവര്‍ത്തനം ഒരു ജോലിയല്ല, സാമൂഹിക ദൗത്യമാണ്.

[Media Profession is not a job, it is social mission]

ജനാധിപത്യത്തിന്റെ സംരക്ഷണം മാദ്ധ്യമധര്‍മ്മമാണ്.

[Protection of democracy is the moral duty of media]

ഉത്തമ മാദ്ധ്യമസംസ്കാരം പുലര്‍ത്താന്‍ നിങ്ങള്‍ക്ക് എന്റെ ആശംസകള്‍.

[I give you my best wishes to maintain high standards of media]


                                                        लोका: समस्ता: सुखिनो भवन्तु ।
                                                                 वलरे नन्नि
                                                                  जय हिन्द ।