Shri. Ram Nath Kovindji, the Hon’ble President of India, congratulated the efforts of P.N. Panicker Foundation in building READ INDIA by reaching the unreached with grass-root level activities spreading the message of reading and digital reading initiated by P.N. Panicker National Reading Mission. Shri. Narendra Modiji, Hon’ble Prime Minister of India has directed P.N. Panicker National Reading Mission to reach 300 million underprivileged population of the country with the message of reading and digital reading by 2022.
The President of India, conveyed his blessings and good wishes to this mission through the functionaries of P.N. Panicker National Reading Mission viz Prof. P.J. Kurien, former Deputy Chairman, Rajya Sabha and Shri. N. Balagopal, Vice Chairman, P.N. Panicker Foundation when they met Rashtrapatiji at Rashtrapati Bhavan, New Delhi to seek his blessings. They appraised the Hon’ble President the progress of the work being carried out in all the 27 States and Union territories of the country through NITI Aayog, Govt. of India. We seek your gracious support and involvement to make this P.N. Panicker National Mission of Reading and Digital Reading as a people’s movement.
Ellaavarkkum Ente Namaskaaram.
I am very happy to address you after awarding certificates to the learners who have qualified the Online examination of the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, Government of India. Let me at the outset, express my appreciation for the efforts of P.N. Panicker Foundation in encouraging the rural population to become digitally literate. As we all know, the P.N. Panicker Foundation has been successfully organizing the National Reading Day and Reading Month celebrations in the recent years. The foundation's initiatives in spreading literacy and encouraging the habit of reading had prompted the Government of Kerala to observe the 19th of June every year as Vaayanadinam (Day of Reading) in the past 23 years.
The activities of the Foundation call to our minds, the memory of the Late P.N. Panicker, the father of the Library movement in Kerala. Through the famous slogan Read and Grow, he helped to expand the library network from a mere 45 in 1945 to more than 6,000 in the eighties. At a time when the habit of reading has spread beyond the printed page to the e-readers and other hand-held devices, the Foundation has taken up the task of improving the digital literacy of people in our villages. This function throws light on the success of the Foundation in taking the message of Digital Literacy to our villages.
As we all are aware, the Ministry of Human Resources Development, Govt. of India, had dedicated to the nation, the concept of the National Digital Library of Indiaas One Library for All of Indiaon June 19th 2018. This declaration was made as part of its National Mission on Education through Information and Communication Technology (NMEICT). It is a matter of pride that the dedication was made while commemorating the services of the Late P.N. Panicker, the father of Library and Literacy Movement.
I understand that the P.N. Panickar Foundation was entrusted by Government of India to provide leadership to the Reading Mission 2022, which sets an ambitious target of taking the message of reading to 300 million people. While this effort to popularize digital literacy is aimed at everyone including the ordinary rural population, it is commendable that the most advanced institutions of technology have come forward to design the mass education programme. I am informed that the National Digital Library of India (NDL India)has developed a virtual repository of learning resources with a single-window search facility, which allows focused searching so that learners can spot the right resource with least effort and in minimum time. In tune with our linguistic diversity, NDL India is designed to hold content of any language and provides interface support for leading Indian languages.
I am happy that this facility is providing support for all academic levels including researchers and life-long learners and the differently-abled through all popular devices, making the whole initiative inclusive in nature. The Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur deserves appreciation for its role in developing this framework which has 1.7 crore contents including books and periodicals in 200 languages of the world. With such vast resources, I am certain that there would be a renewed interest in education among students as well as people who could not continue formal studies due to pressures of life. Since Kerala has already registered the highest Internet and mobile penetration in India, the transition towards digital literacy would be very easy. We also have the distinction of being a State with high level of digital empowerment at the grassroots levels.
The spread of technology has provided us many more avenues for reading and learning. As I mentioned earlier, we have e-readers, audio books and these facilities are available in hand-held devices. However, we need to educate the elderly generation along with the young people in utilizing these devices for meaningful learning activity. This is because, being a life-long student is one way of keeping oneself young, healthy and more receptive to the social changes. If we look at Kerala, we have a large population of elderly people, some of whom are struggling to keep pace with the changing technologies. This disconnect with modernity has also been causing many health issues among the elderly people. I feel that digitally engaging them in meaningful activity would go a long way in keeping them healthier and active.
Digital literacy is also to be seen as a way to integrate the lakhs of guest workers into our society. We see many among them being engaged in unhealthy practices and life styles, mainly due to lack of awareness. I hope the P.N. Panicker Foundation would devote its attention to the empowering of our guest workers also through literacy activities.
I take this opportunity to congratulate all the learners who have undergone the digital literacy course and become eligible to earn their certificates. I hope you would become brand ambassadors of digital literacy and learning in our society.
I compliment the Foundation for organizing this function in a befitting manner.
Ellavarkkum Ente Aashamsakal
It gives me great pleasure to join you today to flag off the 9th P.N. Panicker Vigyan Vikas Yatra. I was very much interested when I heard about this annual event organized by the P. N. Panicker Vigyan Vikas Kendra in collaboration with the Government of Kerala and other agencies. I understand that the Yatra is one of the flagship events of the Kendra - whose mission it is to spread education to reduce poverty. I understood this to be a remarkably effective method of outreach which has proven to be successful and result oriented. It has become widely known as a focused grass-root level campaign to encourage reading and love for books among the young. I was struck by its simplicity - and its evolution from a small reading room in a village into a movement for mass literacy - which shows that it has been embraced by the people for whom it is meant. They have not only responded, but taken full advantage of it.
It is hardly any surprise that this programme of mass contact has successfully instilled in the young people in Kerala, a thirst for learning and a scientific temper by taking knowledge and the instruments of learning to those who have no access to them.
Today, the Government of India's national literacy mission draws inspiration from the work and methods of Shri P.N Panicker. This is also an opportunity to pay tribute to the Shri P.N. Panicker, father of the Library Movement, who dedicated his life to initiate and guide this highly successful literacy movement. From the Travancore Library Association that he founded in 1945 with 47 rural libraries, he developed a series of similar units which has now grown into a network of 6000 libraries and a tremendously successful movement for total literacy in Kerala. The results speak for themselves. Kerala has the distinction of being the first State in India to attain 100 percent literacy. Shri P.N. Panicker had a simple but powerful slogan, 'vayichu valaruka' which exulted all children to read and grow.
Shri P.N. Panicker, like many of us, was driven by Gandhiji's words - that "Mass illiteracy is India's sin and shame and must be liquidated". In keeping with his commitment to Gandhian ideals, he also built into his programme a campaign to foster social amity and harmony. I am indeed satisfied to note that the Yatra aims at discussions on participatory democracy, panchayat-centred development and awareness about the importance and significance of grama sabhas.
I note that the yatra will cover a distance of 2000 kms. in 30 days and will cover a population of about 30 lakh citizens. In undertaking this Yatra, the young participants will propagate the message of P.N. Panicker and spread awareness of his invaluable service to this State. I am also happy to note that the yatra has very specific plans - of creating micro units of excellence, innovation through entrepreneurship, better productivity and competitiveness. The yatra has rightly chosen a target group of farmers, unorganized labourers, Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes and other under-privileged communities. I understand that the participants will interact with the populations that they will cover - through a direct method of presenting concepts through street theatre. I commend them for choosing to focus on developing an interest in the youth - the leaders of tomorrow - and motivating them to think about their own individual contribution to the growth and progress of their societies.
I would like to congratulate the Government of Kerala for their observance of 19th June, the date of the passing of this great visionary, Shri P.N. Panicker, as the "Day of Reading" which is annually marked by a week of public events and activities in schools and educational institutions. There could be no better way to honour the monumental contribution of Shri P.N. Panicker to literacy and education in this, "God's own Country".
With these few words, I extend my best wishes to the participants in the P.N. Panicker Vigyan Vikas Yatra and wish them every success in their project.