Education system must strengthen adherence to secularism, inclusiveness

President Pratibha Patil on Wednesday said the education system should strengthen adherence to secularism, inclusiveness and pluralism.

These values were enshrined in the country's Constitution and developed by its civilisation. “These give strength and sustenance to our diverse multicultural, multireligious and multilingual society. We are a democratic nation, which means there must be a willingness to listen to the other's point of view, and to have respect for differing perceptions,” Ms. Patil said, speaking as chief guest at a Manipal University convocation.

India's large youth population had a unique demographic advantage in terms of manpower availability for building the nation. “The energy of the youth and their enthusiasm must be guided into productive work.”

Ms. Patil said knowledge was incomplete without values. “It is a value system that can prepare the younger generation to become responsible citizens who contribute to the welfare of society, and to the advancement of the human race.”

Referring to the responsibilities of universities, she said they had to nurture the future citizens. The education system in the country must look at the holistic development of youth.

“It is important that universities have an environment conducive to the healthy growth of students so that their talents can blossom and they become positive individuals. Our nation has made significant strides. We also responded creatively to advances in electronics, communications and computer technology.” As a result, “India has emerged as a major player in these fields. To maintain a leadership role in the knowledge economy, we must focus on innovation and remain competitive,” the President said.

“Today, we are the fourth largest economy in terms of purchasing power parity, and one of the fastest growing economies. We have to address many constraints and remove many roadblocks on our growth trajectory. For a nation which is the seventh largest in geographical terms and second largest in terms of population, our existing physical infrastructure is inadequate.”

Karnataka Governor H.R. Bhardwaj and Higher Education Minister V.S. Acharya were present.