Padmabhushan. Dr.Kamal Haasan addressed students of Harvard University at the annual India Conference on February 7. Mr Haasan, the biggest stars of South India chose freedom of speech as his topic.
However, he still became the first South Indian actor to speak at the prestigious Harvard University. Other Indians who have spoken at the conference in the past include Shashi Tharoor, Nirupama Rao, Preetha Reddy and Chanda Kochhar.
In Haasan’s keynote at Harvard University, what reflected was sincerity and honesty. Even when he attracted a lot of unwanted controversies, he smiled and said, “You are going to speak all this in Harvard? asked some of my friends, in awe and some in disbelief. I have been constantly reminded of my lack of intramural training. I must humbly submit that I am a high school dropout.”
Here are 11 excerpts from his Harvard Speech which will prove that he is not only proud of his democratic country but he’ll not mince his words if need be!
1. “Freedom of speech is unlike love. Love as popularly quoted, is never having to say that you are sorry. With freedom of speech you must be ready to say as many things as you need to before you say sorry.
2. “My opinion is questioned when I tell them Democracy is not the most infallible of political systems. They take umbrage. They see red. Red as my political complexion. Let me confess I am not.”
3. “I don’t have a religion yet I shamelessly use some rare but finer points from even religion for a better living and harmony. I don’t think that either democracy, communism or fascism or any other “isms” is going to be the ultimate and final answer for all social maladies”
4. “Our society is work in progress. Some scientists believe that human mind itself is work in progress. So I am unwilling to accept any one political ideology as a settled cure for all our woes”
5. “Freedom unlike money is not safe once inside a bank locker. It won’t safely accrue, to be withdrawn for use in times of dire need. Constant vigil is necessary to safeguard it”
6. “I am not here to bash democracy or praise communism or socialism. I have taken this opportunity to put on record through media and those receptive minds here that we cannot take freedom of speech for granted and complacently think that democracy automatically means freedom of speech”
7. “As a matter of fact, I am proud of the kind of democracy we have managed to practice in spite of many attempts to abuse it”
8. “It was not democracy that allowed freedom of speech and freedom itself but the other way around. It was freedom of speech that sculpted and cultured democracy.”
9. “I can almost hope to see borders blur within my lifetime, and all will truly and slowly become citizens of the world instead of boasting limiting parochial borders”
10. “I am proud and fortunate to be in a medium that can reflect and protect freedom of speech and even fight for it subcutaneously and also in a full frontal attack if need be”
11. “People often confuse my voicing dreams of going back to film school as humility, that too a false humility. Believe me it’s truly humility that time and experience has taught me, that too not very kindly. I have learnt little tricks in the time I spent in the film industry, a little more than half a century”
Currently Kamal Haasan is working in the sequel of Viswaroopam (2013).