Go beyond your own expectations, Lt Gen Madhuri Kanitkar tells students

Go beyond your own expectations, Lt Gen Madhuri Kanitkar tells students

Lucknow: Addressing the 6th annual Tehrim Dass Memorial Lecture, held as a hybrid event at the Avadh Girls’ Degree College (AGDC), Lucknow, on March 13, 2021, keynote speaker Lt General Madhuri Kanitkar, AVSM, VSM, told students to make the most of the challenges that life brought their way.

Speaking through Microsoft Teams from Delhi, the General Officer addressed over 200 students, educators and NCC cadets seated at the AGDC auditorium in addition to hundreds of edu-leaders, parents and students from across the globe.

Deeply moved by the inspirational life of Mrs Tehrim Dass, she said that she was humbled to be invited for the oration. “What I have heard about Mrs Dass makes me think that if our country was to follow her vision, we would become the land envisioned by Rabindranath Tagore in his famous words – ‘Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high’.”

While introducing Lt Gen Kanitkar, Dr Amrita Dass, Founder-Director, Institute for Career Studies (ICS) and Mrs Tehrim Dass’ daughter said, “The General Officer’s life journey is a testament to her words that gender is in our minds and that our gender is our power!”

Lucknow Connect

The Officer spoke about her Lucknow connect. “I did my high school from Kendriya Vidyalaya, RDSO.” Hailing from Mumbai and educated in international schools till before that, she said this is where she conquered one of her first challenges – learning to master the Hindi language.

You don’t have to perfect at everything’

Lt Gen Kanitkar took the audience through her life challenges and inspirations – speaking about family expectations, peer pressure, adjusting to campus life at AFMC Pune, making a place for herself in a field traditionally dominated by men, and more.

“Our spirit lies in being damaged but not destroyed. Accept your cracks and that will make you shine brighter. Let’s not feel that we have to be perfect at everything. If you accept this, your family and friends will also accept,” she told the young girls attending the event.

She also said it was important to “adjust, adapt and adopt”. “You must learn how to make things work. You can’t just keep giving up (whenever a difficulty arises),” said the Officer while encouraging students to realise how blessed they were.

Addressing NCC cadet Anjali Limbu’s question about charting a career in the defence services, Lt Gen Kanitkar said, “As an NCC cadet, you’ve already won half the battle. You’ve learnt the values and discipline that form the foundation of a career in the Armed Forces. Believe in yourself and don’t let anything stop you.”

To another student’s query about balancing gender roles and labour, the Officer said, “We have started bringing up our daughters as our sons – encouraging them to pursue their dreams. It’s time we started bringing up our sons as daughters too – equipping them with essential life skills.”

This lecture was jointly organised by AGDC and ICS as a tribute to Mrs Tehrim Dass whose outstanding social work spanned six decades and who served as a member of the AGDC management committee for many years.  

Lt General Madhuri Kanitkar is a serving General Officer in the Indian Army. She is the third lady and the first paediatrician in the Indian Armed Forces to be promoted to a Three-star rank.

Dr Amrita Dass is a leading educationist and career-consultant of the country. She holds the distinction of pioneering career counselling and guidance services in India.

Prominent among those who graced the event were Zarine Viccajee, President, Managing Committee, AGDC, who welcomed the dignitaries and audience, Nishi Pandey, Manager, AGDC, who spoke about the exemplary life of Mrs Tehrim Dass, Upma Chaturvedi, Principal, AGDC, who proposed the vote of thanks, Mrs Tehrim Dass’ family members, and ICS and AGDC communities.