Asking students to develop an understanding of the ethos of Indian culture and essence of democracy, President Pratibha Devisingh Patil on Friday said she believed in democracy as a method of government whereby revolutionary changes in social life are brought about without bloodshed.
Delivering the third convocation address at the Shri Mata Vaishnodevi University here on Friday, Ms. Patil said democracy was the fundamental pillar of “our system.”
“My definition of democracy is a form and a method of government whereby revolutionary changes in social life are brought about without bloodshed. This requires adherence to the path of reason and the path of dialogue. It requires tolerance and abandoning of narrow ideologies. This will make you a good citizen of the country. For in life, even as you seek individual success, you have a duty to also contribute to nation-building efforts.” Maintaining that India would emerge as a leading nation, she told the students that their generation would be part of that exciting possibility. However, she said: “This will happen if we invest in building the capabilities and capacities of our youth. I believe the education of the youth is an essential and most valuable investment for any country for its growth and prosperity. Education is like building a bridge to opportunities; it prepares one to participate fully in the many aspects of life by making informed choices; it equips one to face the challenges of the future with confidence. It is an invaluable asset whose utility defies quantification, as so numerous are its manifold benefits.”
To provide value-based quality education, she said, was an objective that was particularly important in India, where the median age of our population is around 25 years, and more than half of the country's population comprised young people. On universalising primary education by making it a fundamental right, she said: “Education must reach all boys and girls of every section, so that the aspiration to realise their full potential becomes a reality.”
Ms. Patil said the real purpose of education was not only to impart knowledge, but also to ignite a lifelong search for knowledge and a desire for enlarging mental and intellectual horizons.
Quoting Khalil Gibran, she said: “The teacher who is indeed wise does not bid you to enter the house of his wisdom but rather leads you to the threshold of your mind. I call on the professors and lecturers to strive to do their best to open the minds of the students, so that they have inquisitiveness and curiosity about the world and the environs around them. This will help in making them creative and analytical individuals,” the President added.
Governor N.N. Vohra, who is the chancellor of the University, said the university had entered into collaborative understandings with 20 eminent national and international institutions for undertaking joint researches and exchanges of teachers and students, enabling the faculty and the students to be engaged in researches in the frontier areas of science and engineering. He hoped that this connectivity with varied reputed institutions, along with other initiatives, would lead to making the University a leading centre of excellence for research, teaching and innovation, all over the country and across the world.
Chief Minister Omar Abdullah was the guest of honour at the convocation. “You have to rise to the occasion and prove your mettle,” he impressed upon the students. He expressed the firm hope that they will become leaders in the varied fields of activity by dint of their talents, quality education and hard work.