Stating that the very purpose of education will be defeated if it is only to get jobs, Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar has stressed the need for changes in the “attitude, mindset and thought process of the youth” through education.
Speaking at an event to mark the setting up of a Chair in the name of her father Babu Jagjivan Ram in the University of Calcutta on Friday, Ms. Kumar said education must free youth from the shackles of social prejudice.
Reflecting on the life of her father, who was a Cabinet Minister at the Centre for 33 years, she said he faced acute discrimination during his early life but as leader of the oppressed classes he continued his crusade against social evils.
Ms. Kumar unveiled a portrait of Jagjivan Ram in the university and inaugurated an exhibition of photographs on his life.
University Grants Commission Chairperson Ved Prakash urged university authorities to specify the terms of reference of the Chair and focus research work on Babuji’s ideas on rural labour, village reconstruction and social justice.
“We would review the progress made by the Chair and after two years if we find it satisfactory we will certainly convert the Chair into a centre for social inclusion in the name of Babu Jagjivan Ram,” he said.
Governor M.K. Narayanan, who is the Chancellor of the university, said Babuji was its student and completed his Bachelor of Science in 1931.
Complimenting him on his role as Defence Minister, Mr. Narayanan said Jagjivan Ram “fully comprehended running the complex Ministry” which was reflected in the 1971 war against Pakistan.
Vice-Chancellor Suranjan Das regretted that even after five decades of Independence the gross enrolment of students belonging to the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes in higher education was just six and seven per cent, and among the BPL, it was a paltry 3.4 per cent.