Studies/Research on

Prof N.Radhakrishnan’s 75th Book Launch- Speech by K C Shashidhar, Former CGM, NABARD

Seven Habits for Staying Young like Dr. N. Radhakrishnan and What we can Learn from him ?

1. Keep writing and publishing and stay young

Dr. Radhakrishnan has written 75 books so far! What an achievement!

Why does he write so profusely? Perhaps, we can find an answer in the English Author, Enid Bagnold, who wrote - “Who wants to become a writer? And why? Because it’s the answer to everything. … It’s the streaming reason for living. To note, to pin down, to build up, to create, to be astonished at nothing, to cherish the oddities, to let nothing go down the drain, to make something, to make a great flower out of life, even if it’s a cactus.”

In every book of Dr. Radhakrishnan, we find his expressions of life experiences and reflecting the thoughts in his mind. I am here reminded of Vriginia Woolf who had said, “Every secret of a writer’s soul, every experience of his life, every quality of his mind, is written large in his works.”

I may add that writing books and publishing them, gives a person, the recognition in society which becomes the further fuel for writing more books.

This habit, keeps Dr. Radhakrishnan, ever young.

2. Keep Speaking in meetings, seminars, workshops, conferences etc. on topics that interest you and stay young.

Dr. Radhakrishnan is always there – organizing meeting, seminars, workshops, conferences and the like. He speaks there at length expressing his thoughts, loudly and clearly. His spoken words generate thoughts for discussions. In these programmes, he brings along with him, other speakers from all over the world, to one platform.

His speeches appear impromptu, for he carries no papers. But, his words are spoken after deep thought and probably preparation, as Mark Twain remarked “It usually takes more than three weeks to prepare a good impromptu speech!” 

All of us derive great happiness when experiences and knowledge are shared through a speech. Among other things, I feel, this habit keeps him young.

3. Keep Travelling and Stay Young

Dr. Radhakrishnan is an avid traveler. He travels to various parts of our country as well as the foreign lands, not just for holidaying but with a purpose. And when he travels, he visits places connected with his areas of his interest such as those relating to history, peace, Gandhian thoughts and similar ones.

I can recollect that during his recent visit to Kolkata in February 2015, one day, he visited the birth-place of Rabindranath Tagore at Jorasanko Thakur Bari in Kolkata. What did he do during this visit? He organized an inter-active seminar in the premises, jointly with the Dept. of Political Science, Rabindra Bharati University. He spoke on Tagore and so did others and the visit was thus a combination of pleasure with a purpose. The audience consisting mainly of students asked him a number of questions which were answered by him and others.

As I have personally seen, Dr. Radhakrishnan tries to explore reality during his travel. This is truly on the lines of what Samuel Johnson wrote, “The use of traveling is to regulate imagination by reality, and instead of thinking how things may be, to see them as they are.”

4. Mentor students and stay young

I have observed Dr. Radhakrishnan in the action of nurturing school students, college students and the youth. He is a teacher and a mentor. He involves them in his peace initiatives. I vividly recall one such very interesting programme he organized for students a couple of years back. This event was held in Trivandrum and had attracted students from various colleges. In this programme, he had divided the students into groups with each group being addressed by a senior faculty from Gandhigram Rural Institute. This is just one example. Infact, in all the programmes that he organizes, one can find a sizeable number of youngsters. In the recent programme- the International Peace Summit, 2015 held at Kolkata during February 2015, there was a predominance of young students.

Dr. Radhakrishnan follows the thoughts of Gandhiji who wrote, "If we are to reach real peace in this world... we shall have to begin with children". In the Constructive Programme enunciated by Gandhiji, an important item relates to Students. Gandhiji has written stating that “ they (the students) are the hope of the future.” Further, Gandhiji had observed that “it is from these young men and women that the future leaders of the nation are to rise.”

On the same lines, on youth, Daisaku Ikeda has said, “Organizations that foster young people will flourish. Organizations that help young people develop will grow.

Radhakrishnan strongly believes that youth is not a stage or a time of life; it is a state of mind and thought process.

Thus, being in the company of students and being a teacher and a mentor, is another habit which he has nurtured to keep himself young.

5. Be a Leader and stay young

A leader is never alone – Radhakrishnan is always in the midst of people. He is highly networked. And he has the vision to guide. We have seen how Dr. Radhakrishnan has guided and fostered more and more people and involved them in his mission and vision. Again, to quote Ikeda, “The true worth of a leader rests on one thing: How many people you have fostered to carry your vision forward.”

One has often seen how, many leaders who are quite old in physical age, keep moving around with the sort of briskness characteristic of a young person. They speak to others, they listen to others, they are a source of inspiration and generate thoughts and ideas which are fresh and new.

Take the recent example of Dr. Radhakrishnan’s new idea of visiting Noakhali in Bangladesh. He has proposed to bring to light, the historical legacy of this place which now houses the Gandhi Ashram Trust. This is the place which is rooted with the 'Peace Mission' of Mahatma Gandhi immediately after the communal riots in 1946. Gandhiji had stayed in Noakhali for about four months in the riot stricken areas. He started moving around the villages and motivated the people towards his peaceful coexistence and non-violence philosophy.  

A leader always remains young, as we see in Dr. Radhakrishnan.

6. Have a strong passion and stay young

Are you intensely passionate about something, especially a noble cause?

Try to think quietly of any person who has a great passion – the picture that comes to your mind will be that of a person, who is full of youthful energy. This person keeps the hours, the days, the months and the years filled with energy in pursuit of the passion.                                                                                          

We all have also seen, how people with a strong and dedicated passion never age in life; these are people with a strong urge to live their life in pursuit of their passion. Dr. Radhakrishnan belongs to this category

Dr. Radhakrishnan is passionate about spreading the Gandhian thoughts of peace and all other aspects connected with it.

Thus, his strong passion keeps him ever active and always young.

7.  Keep up your sense of humour and remain young forever

Jane Austin in her classic Pride & Prejudice had written about Mr. Bennet, a character whom she described as “…..captivated by youth and beauty, and that appearance of good humour which youth and beauty generally give…”.

In an extreme expression, Mahatma Gandhi had once said, “ If I had no sense of humour, I would long ago have committed suicide."

Dr. Radhakrishnan has a highly subtle sense of humour. His mission is serious; it is his passion; it is not easy to work for it. He walks this tight-rope, with a sense of humour.

Remember? At the end of my speech at the 75th book launch, he remarked how his wife reacts to his endless travel, activities etc.?

Humour keeps Dr. Radhakrishnan young. He has nurtured and maintained this habit!