The Editor-in-Chief of The Hindu, N. Ram, has strongly advocated the need for quality and affordability to go together in education saying that “they are not to be seen as conflicting goals.”

While it is important to make a commitment to pursuit of quality/excellence, it is equally important to ensure that education is made accessible to all sections of society, It is a challenge in education and we have to think in the backdrop of this challenge,” he said.

Importance of inclusiveness

Mr. Ram was speaking at the Graduation Day ceremony of Thiagarajar College of Engineering (TCE) here on Wednesday. Another point emphasised was the importance of social inclusiveness, secularism, diversity and plurality.

“India is a multi-lingual and multi-religious country. Diversity and plurality are derived from our ancient history. They should be preserved and youngsters must know the value of secularism and social inclusiveness,” he said in his Graduation Day address.

He pointed out that while higher education had become India's strength, particularly with regard to professional/technical education,the general standard in arts, humanities and basic science courses also had to be raised.

All-round development

“You cannot progress without all-round development in higher education. Experts have already noted the weaknesses and if they are not corrected, the advantages India has right now will be eroded,” he cautioned.

“Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen has called for attention to fill the gaps and get priorities right. On education, he has said that it is unbelievably unequal and incredibly slow in India. Basic education should not be neglected and we must come out of the distorted path,” Mr. Ram pointed out.

Calling for paying attention to the weak spots, he cited the dismal enrolment and drop-out rates in schools particularly in the Hindi-speaking belt of the country.

Word of praise

Mr. Ram had a word of praise for the TCE's distinguished track record in the current knowledge society.

“This institution in Madurai has emerged as a premier institution. I commend the TCE for opening its doors to disadvantaged sections of the society. Significantly, this college is an affordable institution also keeping in view its quality, system of admissions, infrastructure, linkages with industry, placements and the values imparted to graduates,” he said.

Finally, Mr. Ram urged the young engineering graduates to be focused and optimistic and commit themselves morally to do something good for the society in return for the benefits they had received.

He presented certificates to rank-holders and students who passed out of various courses. Over 900 students graduated in different courses at the TCE in academic year 2010-11.

Earlier, Karumuttu T. Kannan, chairman and correspondent, TCE, in his presidential address, spoke on the advantage enjoyed by India with its young population and its rising position in global arena.

“Constant knowledge acquisition is important to keep yourself relevant in changing times. You have passed out at a time when 56 Indian companies figure in the global Fortune 500 list and jobs are created in huge numbers. This century belongs to the Indian youth,” Mr. Kannan told the young men and women.

V. Abhaikumar, Principal, welcomed the gathering and M. Palaninatha Raja, Registrar, proposed a vote of thanks.