The Vice President, Shri M Venkaiah Naidu has called for revamping the entire education system from pedagogy to research to make India a leading centre of knowledge and innovation.
Delivering the 3rd Annual Convocation of the Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi, Shri Naidu pointed out that India was once known as Vishwaguru and said that the time has come for India to once again emerge as a global hub of learning.
Urging the universities and institutions of higher learning to completely reorient their methods of teaching, he wanted JNU and other universities in India to figure among the top-ranking global institutions.
The Vice President observed that the Indian civilization always laid emphasis on a holistic integrated vision of education. Urging universities like JNU to build on our strengths and raise the bar, he said all-round excellence and the ability to lead the global agendas must be our aim.
Urging the institutions of higher learning to learn from the best institutions in the world and adapt the best practices, he said: “We have, as a civilization, been one of the most receptive societies that has welcomed good ideas from across the world”.
Pointing out that India was on a unique growth trajectory, he said the students have “limitless opportunities” to contribute towards this endeavor.
Referring to the vast untapped demographic dividend, Shri Naidu said the youth of the country, constituting two thirds of our population, must have access to high quality skill development and higher education facilities.
Reminding the students that they were inheritors of a great culture and a pluralistic, holistic world view, he advised them to develop an understanding of the finer aspects of this inheritance and preserve and propagate them. “You must continuously strive to use your knowledge and wisdom to improve the quality of life of people around you”, Shri Naidu added.
Asserting that education has a transformation potential, the Vice President said that it transforms the learner and gives the power to harness knowledge for common good. “I would like to advise our outgoing graduands to follow India’s core philosophy of sharing and caring”, he added.
Emphasizing the importance of empowering women through education, the Vice President said that no nation could make progress if women lagged behind. He also favoured political empowerment of women by providing reservations in the Parliament and State legislatures.
Shri Naidu lauded JNU for its special admission policy for women and students from marginalized sections.
The Vice President also emphasized the need to provide education uptill 10th standard in child’s mother tongue. “We should give extra incentive to children who undergo their initial schooling in their mother tongues”, he said.
Union Minister for Human Resource Development, Shri Ramesh Pokhariyal ‘Nishank’, Chancellor, JNU and Member Niti Ayog, Shri Vijay Kumar Saraswat and Vice-Chancellor of JNU, Prof. Jagdeesh Kumar were among the dignitaries present at the Convocation.
Following is the full text of the speech –
“I am happy to be with you all on this momentous occasion of the 3rd Annual Convocation of the Jawaharlal Nehru University.
My congratulations to all the students, who are receiving their degrees and compliments to faculty members of JNU for providing quality education!
It is my pleasure to be amongst some of the brightest young minds of India, who, with dreams in their eyes, are preparing to carve out a bright future for them and for this great country.
It is heartening to know that Jawaharlal Nehru University, which was established as a Central University by an Act of the Parliament in 1966, is celebrating its Golden Jubilee this year.
It is a matter of pride that JNU has become synonymous with academic excellence in the country. I am happy to note that JNU had recently received the highest ranking, Grade A++ from NAAC (National Assessment and Accreditation Council). Also, JNU was ranked No. 2 among all the Universities in India by the National Institutional Ranking Framework, Government of India, in 2017 and 2018. Besides, JNU was also a recipient of the Best University Award from the President of India.
With a good academic reputation for various schools and a strong research eco-system, I am glad to learn that JNU is working on new therapeutic modalities for treatment of human diseases.
I am also pleased to note that women constitute 51% of the students because of special admission policy for them, students hailing from distant places and those belonging to marginalized sections.
It is important that young women particularly those belonging to marginalized sections gain increased access to the portals of colleges and universities.
Women’s empowerment through education will have a positive impact on the society and on our future generations. It is often said that educating a woman is equivalent to educating a family.
As Vivekananda said “”There is no chance for the welfare of the world unless the condition of women is improved. It is not possible for a bird to fly with one wing”.
I am glad to note that women in India are not only participating shoulder-to-shoulder with men in many fields, but are also outshining men in many instances.
Thus, the institutions of higher learning have to play a very vital role in ensuring quality and equitable education to women. In this context, I would also like to stress the need for political empowerment of women by providing adequate reservation for them in Parliament and State legislatures.
My Dear students,
Convocation is always an important event for any academic institution and a significant milestone in your academic growth. It is a moment of pride and joy for the degree holders and winners of medals and prizes.
The degrees, medals and prizes earned by you are the recognition for your hard work and immense dedication.
It is surely a moment of great pride for your teachers and parents as well. Learning is a never ending process and the firm foundation provided to you by your alma mater will empower you to explore new horizons in your life.
As Swami Vivekananda had said almost a hundred years ago, “Intelligence must not remain the monopoly of the cultured few; The immense power of our people for work must be utilized. India’s potentialities are great”
Leaving no one behind is the overarching goal of our government and the Sustainable Development Goals. Equity and quality must be the watchwords of all our educational institutions.
As you all are aware, India was once known as Vishwaguru with the world’s best centres of learning like Takshashila, Pushpagiri and Nalanda attracting scores of knowledge-seekers from different corners of the globe.
Dear students and teachers,
The time has come for India to once again emerge as a global hub of learning. For this to happen, our universities and institutions of higher learning have to reorient their methods of teaching and focus more sharply on research.
Institutions like JNU are no doubt striving hard to enhance academic excellence and remain among the top universities in the country. However, I would like JNU and other universities in India to figure among the top-ranking global institutions. That should be your goal. Please work towards that objective with determination and commitment to excellence.
India has always been known to cherish the value of education. When the Panchatantra says, svadeśe pūjyate rājā vidvān sarvatra pūjyate,“the king is admired only in his kingdom but a knowledgeable person is respected and welcomed everywhere,” it exhorts us to remember our tradition of respect for learning.
Every single text on philosophy and political science in ancient India is an exploration into new fields of human endeavour and are voyages of discovery. They exemplify the constant quest of a civilization for a better quality of life through a better utilization of knowledge for human welfare.
In Indian civilization, emphasis was always on a holistic integrated vision of education. We must bring back this multi-disciplinary approach to learning.
I am happy that universities like JNU have been traditionally adopting this kind of an approach and has produced high quality researches. We must not rest on our past achievements. We must build on our strengths and raise the bar. All round excellence and the ability lead the global agendas must be our aim.
The ability to learn from the best institutions in the world and adapt the best practices back home is what all institutions of higher learning must do. We have a vast untapped demographic dividend and we have a huge challenge ahead to realize this dividend. The youth of the country, constituting two thirds of our population, must have access to high quality skill development and higher education facilities.
As I and you pay tributes to Shri Maulana Abul Kalam Azad on his birth anniversary today, let us remind ourselves of the words of our first education minister. He had said, “Educationists should build the capacities of the spirit of inquiry, creativity, entrepreneurial and moral leadership among students and become their role model”
We need to draw inspiration from such leaders.
I am glad to note that the Vice Chancellor of JNU, Professor M. Jagadesh Kumar, has established several new fields of studies which are vital to skilling our youth, generating a knowledge industry and enhancing employability. The School of Engineering and the School of Management and Entrepreneurship, along with the Special Centre for E-Learning, have added much strength to the university. All these areas were extremely necessary for JNU to be able to provide good and quality education to students. They will certainly provide greater opportunities to the graduates to find jobs, to innovate in the field of engineering and management. I must congratulate Prof Kumar for this initiative.
India of today is on a unique growth trajectory. You have limitless opportunities to contribute to this endeavour. I am sure you will shape the new India that you and I and all of us are dreaming of. I wish you all the very best in your academic and professional pursuits in the future.
I would like to recall Gandhiji’s famous words, “I do not want my house to be walled in on all sides and my windows to be stuffed. I want all the cultures of all lands to be blown about my house as freely as possible. But I refuse to be blown off my feet by any.”
We have, as a civilization, been one of the most receptive societies that has welcomed good ideas from across the world. The Vedic seers have said, “Let noble thoughts come to us from all sides”. This ability to “absorb” combined with the ability to “adapt” and “innovate” can move the frontiers of knowledge.
You are all inheritors of a great culture and a pluralistic, holistic world view. You must develop an understanding of the finer aspects of this inheritance and preserve and propagate them.
You must continuously strive to use your knowledge and wisdom to improve the quality of life of people around you. The Vedic sages have said, “Saa Vidyaayaa Vimuktaye” ( or “true education emancipates”. Education has a transformation potential. It transforms the learner and gives the power to harness knowledge for common good. I would like to advise our outgoing graduands to follow India’s core philosophy of sharing and caring.
India’s vision is one of deep humanism. We should not allow this vision to be blurred by clouds of misconception or blinkered narrow perspectives. We should recall the words of poet Narsi Mehta who sang the famous song “Vaishnava Jana to” in which he defined a Vaishnava or a devout person as one who understands the agony of fellow citizens.
One of Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore’s exquisite poems also is in the same vein emphasizing essential human values that constitute the Indian ethos. He had said:
“Go not to the temple to put flowers upon the feet of God. First fill your own house with the Fragrance of love and kindness.
Go not to the temple to light candles before the altar of God. First remove the darkness of sin , pride and ego, from your heart
Go not to the temple to bow down your head in prayer.First learn to bow in humility before your fellowmen. And apologize to those you have wronged.
Go not to the temple to pray on bended knees. First bend down to lift someone who is down-trodden.And strengthen the young ones. Not crush them.
Go not to the temple to ask for forgiveness for your sins,First forgive from your heart those who have hurt you!“
This attitude is what makes India unique. Let us celebrate this sense of fellow being. Let us spread the message of peace and promote the ability to learn, live and grow together.
I wish the the Vice Chancellor, the eminent faculty members and the University authorities all the best in their quest for excellence.