President Pranab Mukherjee today said the onus to produce “men and women of substance and character” lies on our institutions. “Our centres of higher learning are social institutions too. They have to carry out their responsibilities as a social entity. A strong connection with the society will provide the edifice for the value-oriented learning in them,” Mukherjee said while addressing the 29th annual convocation of Goa University near here. “This will instil in the students a sensitivity that will inspire them to search for the solutions to the vexed socio-economic problems in the environment in which they are living. The onus is on our institutions to produce men and women of the substance and character, not merely competent professionals,” he said.
On the occasion, Mukherjee was conferred with D Litt degree by Goa University. “I would like to express my gratitude and deep appreciation for conferring on me the Honorary D Litt degree. I deeply appreciate this gesture shown to me and accept this distinction with all humility,” he said. A minute’s silence was observed during the convocation to pay homage to the CRPF personnel who were martyred in the Naxal attack in Chhattisgarh yesterday.
Goa Governor Mridula Sinha and state Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar too were present on the occasion. Observing that no institution can excel in isolation, the President said the institutions have to provide students and faculty the international exposure, introduce industry- relevant matter in the course work and share academic resources.
“A mechanism is needed in our higher education system that promotes competitiveness. NIRF (National Institutional Ranking Framework) is a valuable initiative, and I am sure, with greater and more involved participation, this indicator will provide impetus to our institutions to do better in the coming years,” he added. Observing that the country is presently at a “very challenging phase of its socio-economic transition,” the President said, “We are in the midst of global changes that are both complex and unpredictable”. “Indian expertise and talent has much demand worldwide. The prospects in a liberal economic environment are immense. Yet, to take advantage of the unfolding opportunities in a globalised market, we have to galvanise our demographic strength,” he said. “The youthful character of our nation with 600 million people in the age group of 25 years and below has to become our asset in our surge for advancement. For that, we need to provide sound training to our youth to build capacity for undertaking skilled work,” Mukherjee said.
“It will help prepare them for challenging job roles in the global economic community. They have to be inculcated with the aptitude to think ahead. Lot of ideas capable of making an impact transmits faster than ever before today,” he said. The President said that universities will have to take a lead in this regard. “But this is a task that can hardly be accomplished by the public institutions alone. It will require a new paradigm of partnership between various stakeholders, such as industry, voluntary sector, central and state agencies. All stakeholders have to be involved in these efforts,” he added. Mukherjee also pointed out that our institutions need to impart quality education to prepare graduates for a competitive global economy.
“This will call for adoption of the global best practices for the world-class academic management. Our institutions have to work relentlessly towards excellence,” he suggested. After participating in the ceremony to confer degrees and diplomas, the President expressed happiness that women comprise a high percentage of the student population in Goa University. “I was also happy to see that girl students outshone the boys when prizes were being distributed. It is important that young women, particularly those belonging to the marginal sections gain increased access to the portals of the colleges and universities. “Women’s empowerment through education will have a positive impact on our future generation. It is rightly said that if we educate a man, we educate an individual, but if we educate a woman, we educate an entire family,” Mukherjee said.