SPEECH BY HER EXCELLENCY THE PRESIDENT OF INDIA, SHRIMATI PRATIBHA DEVISINGH PATIL, AT THE CONVOCATION OF THE UNIVERSITY OF RAJASTHAN
Jaipur, 5th March, 2009
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am delighted to be here to attend the 25th Convocation of the University of Rajasthan. On this happy occasion today, I would like to congratulate the Vice-Chancellor, faculty members, staff and students of the University especially those who are graduating today. This campus is not new to me, as I had been here several times, when I was the Governor of Rajasthan and Chancellor of this University. Rajasthan has a rich historical and cultural background. It is the centre of bhakti and shakti. The great devotion of Mirabai and the heroic valour of Maharana Pratap are world famous. Rajasthan is known for its beautiful art, architecture, music, dance, heritage buildings and eminent personalities and some of whom have been conferred the degrees of Honoris Causa. Now Rajasthan is becoming a hub of educational activities. I am also pleased that Honorary Degrees have been conferred on Professor Suresh Bhargava, Professor Goverdhan Mehta and Shri R.N. Aggarwal, all of them eminent in their own fields. I congratulate them on this.
From time immemorial, India has been a centre of learning. Thousands of years ago, great scholars used to teach a variety of subjects such as philosophy, religion, medicine, mathematics, literature, drama and arts. Great works on these subjects were written. Since ancient times, our country has had a tradition of institutionalized education in the form of Gurukuls. Here Universities have existed in continuum through millennia. Nalanda stands as one such example. It is said that at one time it had about 10,000 resident students and teachers on its rolls, with scholars from distant lands. Universities of India today have to preserve and perpetuate this glorious memory as well as to further enhance the reach and quality of education with a view to meeting global challenges.
The process of globalization along with rapid advances in science and technology, particularly information technology, has been defining the achievements, pressures and pulls of the last more than two decades. Globalization has created an inter-related and inter-linked world, generating opportunities and also throwing up challenges. Knowledge based societies and the flow of goods and ideas across national boundaries are its hallmarks. Currently, the focus is on the financial crisis, which originated in the Western hemisphere, but has been transmitted across the globe. This crisis has altered the dynamics of the global economy, compelling a re-look at issues relating to global financial security and the financial architecture. Existing institutions and response mechanisms will be tested as we deal with its impact and implications. A collective effort would be required.
Universities, being centres of learning and research, are institutions where such changes should be analyzed and understood. Universities should study the socio-economic impact of the financial downturn both on a wider level and at the ground level. In an interconnected world, upturns and downturns in economies of nations far away can have an impact on skills requirements in other nations. Universities have always been places where the skills and knowledge of students are chiselled, so that they are suited to the requirement of the work place. Therefore, our Universities must be able to assess the requirements of the job market well in advance.
Universities help a nation in giving it economic vitality, scientific prowess, a broad outline of social change and global competitiveness, through innovation and research. The activities of good universities must strive to contribute to the richness of the cultural, literary and social aspects of their immediate community. It is in this context, that I have also emphasized that all Universities must have outreach programmes that enable students to interact with local communities and understand their issues. Those who are educated must work for the upliftment of the disadvantaged sections of society. They can undertake social welfare work, become messengers of change and, in this way, become individuals who have a sense of responsibility to society. If one earns the goodwill of others, life will be far more meaningful. Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru said that a University represents the onward march of the human race towards higher objectives. Hence, the purpose of education should be to create talented individuals who seek not only to improve their own lot, but also to actively contribute to the higher purpose of service to mankind.
India is a young nation in which the youth population is more than 540 million. Quality education and usable skills along with correct values will transform the youth into an incredible force of change and progress. I would like to emphasis the importance of education for women. Its significance has been recognized in Rajasthan as is evident in the sentiments expressed by parents in a popular slogan, which was mentioned to me:-
It is true that when a daughter goes to study, it has a ripple effect and our own knowledge increases. A woman's role extends from being an important member of the family - daughter, wife, and mother - to being a determinant of social development and of building the nation. Education empowers them to take their own decisions and earn a living. It prepares them to better fulfill their diverse responsibilities in the affairs of the country and, indeed, in their own family. A focus on women education is necessary to build informed societies. It will create an aware and educated women force who can reinforce in our society the values of tolerance, compassion and care, qualities intrinsically associated with women and so much required in our times. Giving them opportunities to show their inherent strengths is important. I see a number of girls in police uniforms as security personnel, including in the women police force in Rajasthan. It is a matter of satisfaction. Women who otherwise need protection are now protecting society.
A university is great because of the energy and intelligence of its students and excellence in the teaching of lecturers and professors. The faculty of a university is its lifeblood. The faculty must always update its knowledge and be able to transfer the knowledge to its students, with a complete sense of giving and commitment. It must be like a friend, always ready to give advice, guiding their students on how best they can be ready to face the world. Education should aim at making students self-confident and resourceful thereby making them employable. Often when students complete their studies, they are faced with many dilemmas particularly the kind of job they should take up, in which sector or region. Career counselling at this stage helps students to take informed decisions. I would encourage our academic institutions to establish counseling support.
Students should not look at graduation as the end of a journey rather graduation marks the beginning of another journey - the journey of life where knowledge and skills acquired will be put to test. There would be times when you would find success rather easily and there would be other times when you would be faced with difficult situations. The trying moments can also be moments to look at possible opportunities. Hard work, discipline, commitment and determination will be the wheels on which one can navigate through tough terrains and reach the destination. I am reminded of the words of Swami Vivekananda, and I quote, "We reap what we sow. We are the makers of our own fate. The wind is blowing; those vessels whose sails are unfurled catch it, and go forward on their way, but those which have their sails furled do not catch the wind." Unquote. My appeal to students is to prepare well for meeting life's challenges and be ready so that there are no missed opportunities in life.
While concluding I once again wish success to all the graduating students. I am sure that the knowledge they acquire from this University will benefit society, their region and this University in the years to come. My best wishes to all teachers and faculty members.