Addressing the annual convocation of the university as a 'paridarshak' (visitor), Kovind said this "seat of learning" has played a glorious role in nation building.
Hailing Visva Bharati University as an institute which has upheld the country’s culture and ethos, President Ram Nath Kovind on Monday said his visit to the varsity was no less than a pilgrimage. Addressing the annual convocation of the university as a ‘paridarshak’ (visitor), Kovind said this “seat of learning” has played a glorious role in nation building. “I call this (visit to the university) a pilgrimage because the two greatest visionaries of modern India, Rabindranath Tagore (founder of the varsity), and Mahatma Gandhi, frequently met here. It is here that we all pick the threads of life and lessons of these great sages and learn from them,” he said.
Kovind recalled that Tagore had turned to Gandhi for help when the varsity was in dire need of funds in 1935 and had received a draft of Rs 60,000. For Gurudev (Tagore), as well as for Mahatma, right education was the key to national regeneration, the president emphasized. “Gurudev had thought of an alternative model (of education) which advocates for intimate communion with nature and Visva Bharati, to this date, follows that tradition,” Kovind stated.
This uniqueness of Visva-Bharati is something that “we need to cherish and hold up with pride”, he insisted. “It was in this place that Tagore lived, worked and gave concrete shape to his dreams. The community here -students, academics, staff, ashramites – are proud inheritors of that rich legacy which your founder has left you. “Its illustrious alumni covering a diverse range of personalities, from Indira Gandhi and Satyajit Ray, have not only fulfilled its founder’s vision to a great extent, but also contributed in taking independent India to new heights,” Kovind said during his address to the students.
In an age where machine and wealth are considered benchmarks of progress, Visva-Bharati has emerged as a unique blend of tradition and modernity, the president observed. “Tagore felt it necessary not only to train the minds of the students through disciplines like philosophy, literature or history, but also to engage their souls with music and painting and fine arts. Given the pragmatic needs, there was space for agricultural studies too,” he said.
Kovind urged students to take a pledge to strive towards Visva-Bharati’s glorious future in accordance with the Nobel laureate’s vision. “Tagore was too great to be inhibited by man-made barriers of gender, caste, community or race. Open air for open minds. He wanted to remove walls, literally and metaphorically, when the world was raising walls,” he added.
Congratulating the students who received their degrees on the occcasion, he urged them to remember the institution which has nourished them as a “foster-mother”. “You have done well so far, and I wish you the best… Visva-Bharati has made you aware of your potential, and made you sensitive to your role in society,” the President added. Vice-Chancellor Bidyut Chakraborty, after felicitating the President, gifted him ‘saptaparni’ (seven leaves of ‘Chhatim’ tree) — a ritual dating back to the days of Tagore.
Chakraborty said a total of 4,750 students, who received their got PhD, post-graduate and other degrees at the ceremony, were also handed over ‘saptaparni’ which symbolises simplicity and humility. Among others present at the varsity event was Governor Jagdeep Dhankar.