Universities must produce men and women of character and integrity, says President

The President of India, Shri Pranab Mukherjee addressed the Sixty Fourth Convocation of Punjab University, one of the country’s oldest and leading centres of higher education at Chandigarh today (March 14, 2015).

Speaking on the occasion the President said Punjab University has educated generations of students, many of whom have risen to occupy eminent positions in various walks of life.

The President congratulated the successful students and asked them to comprehend the hopes and expectations of their near and dear ones as well as of society and the nation at large. The President said India is a shining example of a democratic polity and pluralistic society. Democracy not only gives rights but also entails responsibilities. Educated youth must play a vital role in the building of a resurgent new India.

The President said competent and committed individuals are necessary to build the country of our dreams. Our universities must produce men and women of character and integrity. Mahatma Gandhi said: “Real education consists in drawing the best out of yourself. What better book can there be than the book of humanity?” Bapu’s call to follow the book of humanity can resolve the dilemmas of today’s society.

The President said a country’s ascent is determined to a large extent by human capital. As such, education plays a decisive role in shaping the destiny of nations. At the apex of the education system is the university. Indian universities have the potential to be leading institutions of the world. Higher educational institutions would do well to recognize emerging global trends that are creating new models of knowledge dispensation. Rising costs of higher education and changing profile of education seekers, aided by technology, has led to Massive Open Online Courses. Universities must note these evolutions in education and take steps to maximize benefits.

The President said many innovative ideas are born out of the ingenuity of the common man. Mentoring them to validate ideas and design viable products calls for the development of an innovation value-chain. Higher learning institutions due to their multiple linkages can propel this eco-system.

The President said a scientific temper, which takes one’s imagination beyond the realm of grades and classroom, is essential in our students. Our institutions must fire the power of imagination of their students. The teacher must encourage the taught to think beyond books, question concepts and accept a proposition only after investigation. Students must have a grand vision which they can, through research and inquiry, translate into reality.