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Kunwarani Ritu Singh : My Thoughts on Acceptance of the Honorary Doctorate and Award from the Prestigious Nelson Mandela Foundation

Monday, June 13, 2022

Jai Deva!
In all humility, I express my heartfelt gratitude to the Nelson Mandela Peace Award
Academy and Hari Singh Award Foundation for bestowing upon me the prestigious Nelson
Mandela Peace Award.
Many years ago, 1996, I sowed a seed of change in the field of education by the name of
Saplings and in 1998, I collaborated with the Delhi Public School Society, New Delhi to
establish Delhi Public School Jammu. Over the years, my dreams and vision to empower the
young generation, has turned into one of the largest schools in J&K UT.
What started as a small sapling with a handful of students, 25 years ago, has now become a
fully grown tree laden with many fruits with numerous branches, giving back to society in
different ways by its well-placed alumni
I have always believed in performing my duties with an aim of serving the society. And to
receive an award as prestigious as this, in the name of my childhood hero, indeed brings
about a lot of emotions. With blessings of my dear father, I accept this honour with great
Among the many people who have shaped my life, two of the most influential people have
been- Nelson Mandela and my dear Father. What was common between them was their
humility and being a crusader of peace with a desire to serve and champion the
One of my favorite quotes from Nelson Mandela is: What counts in life is not the mere fact
that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others. My father
would always encourage me to serve the people by becoming a voice for those who
couldn’t be heard. Given the two similar ideologies, Nelson Mandela, just like my father, has
always been my real-life hero who I would look up to as a young girl and admired all his
I have often compared my life to a lotus that blossoms in the muddy environs, just like
Nelson Mandela who served unabashedly while he served 27 years in prison.
Along with the pride and prestige attached to this award, there comes a great responsibility
for me to live by, apart from the rich legacy of Maharaja Hari Singh Ji, which I must carry
with me. I have always drawn huge inspiration from my grand father-in-law Maharaja Hari
Singh Ji's famous quote “As a ruler, I have no religion, and all religions are mine and my
religion is justice” which reminds me to continue the baton of service to society that has
been assigned to me. Part of my mission has also been to also empower the
underprivileged, women and children, who I want to lead by example.
I would like to mention here, the two most underlined mottos in my life that I live by are –
the Motto of the School that I attended in Sanawar which said: “ Never Give In ” and the
other was : “Service Before Self”, the Motto of the DPS school that I established in J&K. Both
these mottos have helped me navigate my life journey successfully.
There are many people who have played a big role in my life, who I would like to thank
from the bottom of my heart. First and foremost, I thank my school children, because of
whom my schools are known for their quality education. I am also grateful to the war
widows, army wives, Cheshire homes, homes for the disabled, and old age homes, for giving
me a chance to serve them.
Last, but not the least, I would like to thank my family members, my pillars of strength – my
husband Sh. MK Ajatshatru Singh, my daughter, Adishree, and my son, Ranvijay who have
given me freedom beneath my sails and my dear father Late Shri Ashok Kapur and Smt
Rohini Kapur, my life’s biggest teachers, and Atul and Ajay, my brothers who have always
reminded me of Benjamin Franklin’s words of wisdom which keep playing at the back of my
mind: “To be remembered, write something worth reading or do something worth writing
In the end, no human action is complete without invocation to Shiv and Shakti, the two
fundamental forces permeating every aspect of our being. I bow with humble gratitude in
the feet of Shiv and Shakti seeking their divine blessings for peace and prosperity of J&K UT:
सव # मंगल मांग)ये ,शवे सवा#थ # सा/धके । शर4ये 5य6बके गौर9 नारायणी नमो>ततु ।े ।