SPEECH BY HER EXCELLENCY THE PRESIDENT OF INDIA SHRIMATI PRATIBHA DEVISINGH PATIL AT THE CONVOCATION OF KURUKSHETRA UNIVERSITY
Kurukshetra , 8th February, 2012
Ladies and Gentlemen,
and Dear Students,
I am very happy to be in Kurukshetra, an ancient location of great importance. It is here that the battle of Mahabharata took place and the profound message of the Bhagavad Gita was given, which has continued to guide and inspire us through the ages. Today, Kurukshetra is also home to many institutions of higher education, including Kurukshetra University and I am happy to be here today at your convocation. I take this opportunity to convey my greetings to all the students, the faculty and the staff.
I am pleased that the Degree of Doctor of Laws Honoris Causa has been conferred on His Excellency Dr. Navinchandra Ramgoolam, the Prime Minister of Mauritius. I remember with greater fondness the warmth with which I was received in Mauritius during my visit there last April. He leads his country with great distinction and statesmanship and has played a significant role in the expansion, development and consolidation of the India-Mauritius relations. His Excellency, the Prime Minister very admirably represents the achievements made by people who trace their origins to India. Conferring a Degree on him today, is an acknowledgement of his deep commitment to the principles of democracy and to the economic development of his country. It also is a recognition of his long association with India, which goes back to the time of his father Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam, the Father of the Mauritian nation.
I also warmly congratulate Shri Bhupinder Singh Hooda, the Chief Minister of Haryana for receiving the Degree of Doctor of Laws Honoris Causa. He is from a distinguished family of freedom fighters. His father was a member of our Constituent Assembly. Shri Hoodaji himself has been elected four times to the Lok Sabha and three times to the State Legislative Assembly. He is working with dedication and commitment for the welfare and progress of Haryana.
Since I am speaking in Kurukshetra, I will begin with a shloka, , contained in the Bhagavad Gita, which tells us that we must do our duty with single-minded focus and work selflessly. Mahatma Gandhi speaking about the Gita, said that its object "appears to me to be that of showing the most excellent way to attain self-realization". Indeed, a deeper understanding of the world and of oneself is the very purpose of knowledge and for this reason, it has been accorded high importance by nations and societies. Education gives intellectual strength and other skills for earning a livelihood and living with dignity. It should also make you realize that you need to work with others with a spirit of co-operation, tolerance and understanding to build a harmonious world.
We have to focus on building our human resource. It is the talent and work of our people that will shape the future trajectory of becoming a good and strong nation. It is human beings who set up factories and run them. It is human beings who establish institutions that are engaged in multiple activities, from providing services to undertaking research and scientific activities for the betterment of humanity. Human beings stand at the centre of creative thinking and of ideas, which can bring many changes of head and heart, material and spiritual. Today, India has a large proportion of population that is young. The energy of the youth and their enthusiasm must be guided into constructive and productive work. Their ideas and innovations tapped for the betterment of society. So, good education facilities and good quality education, from primary to high education levels must receive great attention.
As a nation-building programme can leave no part of the nation untouched, education must cover a wide range of disciplines and fields. Universities can help the nation in giving it economic vitality, scientific prowess, a broad outline of social change and global competitiveness, through innovation and research. The activities of good universities must also strive to contribute to the richness of the cultural, literary and social aspects of human behaviour.
Universities, undoubtedly, are store houses of knowledge, but intellect can grow best in a disciplined manner. Indeed, discipline is an essential attribute of any successful organization or an accomplished individual. I believe discipline should be self-discipline, as imposed discipline often defeats its purpose. Discipline also helps in better time management and, I would urge that some time must be kept for social work. It is in this context, that I often emphasize the need for educational institutions to have outreach programmes, through which students interact with local communities and understand their issues. Those who are educated must contribute to efforts for the upliftment of the disadvantaged sections of society. This way you can become messengers of change.
Education should be a process that makes an individual complete in all respects. Gandhiji said, a nation needs, "strong souls, strong brains, strong arms". Clearly, education is about knowledge, but knowledge without values is incomplete. It is like a flower without fragrance. Education should impart good values to the youth that makes them sensitive to fellow human beings, and the environs around them. Good health is also important for performing any activity. Students should improve their physical fitness by participating in sports and athletics.
Today, we are living in a globalised world. Nations, cultures and civilizations are more connected today than ever before. We need to be mindful of these inter-dependencies and work with an attitude that is based on the broader concept of human welfare. Moreover, knowledge should flow across borders, to build bridges of understanding between peoples living in different parts of the world, particularly among the youth. It is for this reason that I have continuously spoken about the importance of exchanges between students and educational institutions, as a way to build deeper co-operation between countries.
Education should also help in developing respect towards nature. We have a responsibility to preserve the planet for future generations. Towards this end, our youth needs to be made responsible and responsive to environment. The faculty of a university which is its lifeblood, like a good friend should always advice and guide their students, on how best to face challenges that confront the world.
In conclusion, I once again convey my best wishes to all present here. My special wishes also to the graduating students, as they leave this institution.