Special Correspondent

Minister addresses 21st convocation of VIT University

VELLORE: The Union Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs, Vayalar Ravi, has called upon the products of engineering colleges to use science and technology to ensure food security for the future in the light of likely increase in the number of impoverished people owing to income disparities.

Delivering the convocation address at the 21st annual convocation of the VIT University here on Saturday, Mr. Ravi said that while scientific knowledge had led to advances that had been of great benefit to humankind, at the same time, the rapid growth of the material world had led to environmental degradation leading to social imbalance and production of weapons of mass destruction.

In the 21st century, the human society faced the daunting task of forging a new relationship with the natural world, which was best defined as "sustainability". Sustainability implied meeting current human needs, while preserving environment and natural resources needed by future generations.

"As young men and women in pursuit of knowledge, these will be the complex problems that you will have to address in your lifetime. The world population has reached six billion and by 2050, is expected to reach nearly nine billion. Hence reducing hunger and poverty will be the primary challenge. Nearly one billion persons are now impoverished with no employment. This number is likely to increase as the world population grows. The challenge is to reduce disparities through capacity building and providing the poor access to knowledge and resources needed," he told the graduates. Presiding over the convocation, Chancellor of VIT University G. Viswanathan appealed to the Central and State Governments to offer scholarships to a large number of students not only for professional courses, but also for science and humanities. At present, only eight per cent of the relevant age group had access to higher education. This percentage had to go up considerably in order to enable India to become an advanced country. "Affordability is the real hurdle. Poor and middle class people require the support of Governments to get higher education," he noted.

Mr. Ravi distributed degrees to 48 students, who won gold medals. A total of 2,109 candidates received their degrees at the convocation.