Address by the President of India, shri Pranab Mukherjee on the occasion of sixty second convocation of Gujarat Vidyapith



Address by the President of India, shri Pranab Mukherjee on the occasion of sixty second convocation of Gujarat Vidyapith

Ahmedabad, Gujarat: Dec 1, 2015 
1. It is my privilege to be here today for the sixty-second convocation of Gujarat Vidyapith. This historic institution was founded in 1920 by Mahatma Gandhi, who was its Chancellor since inception and remained so till he breathed last. Dr. Rajendra Prasad became the Chancellor of Gujarat Vidyapith after Gandhiji and Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. After him, the legacy was inherited by Morarji Desai, who served the longest term as Chancellor for 33 years. The previous Chancellor Nararyan Desai was the son of Mahadev Desai, who spent his childhood and early youth with Gandhiji. 


2. Let me congratulate the graduating students or snataks as Gandhiji would have liked to call them. I am aware that some of my predecessors have graced this occasion in the past. I consider it a special responsibility being amongst you all and addressing the graduating students of this unique seat of learning. More so as, before coming here, I had the occasion to spend some time at the Sabarmati Ashram that Bapu had set up in 1917. Even now, the environment of the Ashram reverberates with the spirit of Satyagrahaand constructive programme of yester-years.

Dear students:

3. Gandhiji was a great soul who showed the world that Satyagraha or the Force of Truth and Ahimsa or Non-Violence can be marshalled to create a more just world. Gandhi was a rare visionary. He created this university, which is going to complete one hundred years soon, because he realized that education and education of youth was a sound way to form the new world. It is heartening to find Gandhiji’s ideals well-entrenched in this institution as it marches ahead in imparting higher education. It today offers 12 courses at the graduation level, 9 at post-graduation, and 20 at M.Phil stage, besides diploma and certificate courses.

4. Gujarat Vidyapith has made good progress in imparting education in contemporary subjects like microbiology, computer science and energy technologies. At a time when higher education is becoming increasingly costly, this Vidyapith has become an institution of choice for youth from the underprivileged sections, with 80 percent of the students’ enrolled belonging to these backgrounds. That 40 percent of the student population comprises girls is an encouraging sign. The state and the society at large ought to continue supporting such a noble organization.

Friends:

5. For social reconstruction, Gandhiji had propounded the principle of Nai Talim which states that knowledge and work are not separate. The constituents of Nai Talim are the 3-H: heart, hand and head. To put this philosophy into practice, Gandhiji promoted an academic curriculum of ‘basic education for all’. With ashram shalas and buniyadi schoolsoperating in the remote areas, Gujarat is perhaps the only state where Nai Talimexists in an institutional form. Gandhiji had said and I quote: “Literary education is of no value, if it is not able to build up a sound character” (unquote). Nai Talim infers charitra nirman or character building, whose relevance is increasing by the day. Without doubt, learning with value-orientation must guide our approach in education.

6. Gujarat Vidyapith provides education aimed at building the character, competence, culture and conscientiousness in students. This is needed to regenerate the country according to Gandhian ideals. This institution has been specially mandated to educate youth for Gram Swaraj, which is a laudable goal espoused by Gandhiji. He firmly held that India lived in her villages. Despite growing urbanization, 68 percent of the country’s population still resides in rural areas. Intervention in food security, education, skill development, employment, technology dissemination, health and nutrition, housing, drinking water, and sanitation would go a long way to uplift the quality of rural life and address poverty concerns. I am told students of this institute are oriented and trained to support rural development in line with Gandhiji’s vision. Initiatives such as this would help create self-reliant villages and achieve equity as well as economic and environmental sustainability. This, according to me, will lead to a Samarth Bharat. 

7. As a country, we have promised ourselves a Swachh Bharat by 2nd October, 2019 to commemorate the 150th birth anniversary of Gandhiji. It is noteworthy that students of this institute through their own labour have kept the campus clean. Such traditions in community life are not built in a day. Hence, it must be the endeavour of each one of you to proliferate this noble practice outside.Swachh Bharat, according to Bapu, implied a clean mind, clean body and clean environment. Every citizen has a duty to rededicate themselves to create a clean external and internal environment of self and society to makeSwachh Bharat possible. I am certain you will make ideal citizens who will endeavour to keep our country Swachh and make it Samarth. 

Friends:

8. Gandhiji in life and in death struggled for communal harmony. Educating in peace and harmony is the key to contain and reorient the disruptive forces in society. The motto of Gujarat Vidyapith is “Sa Vidya Ya Vimuktaye”, that is “Education that Liberates”. The students of Gujarat Vidyapith are not only learning Gandhian thought as a subject, but they are being provided exposure to world religions as well. This institute should continue to demonstrate that it is by educating the heart and mind of the youth that social rejuvenation on the path of non-violence is possible. In this context, I compliment Gujarat Vidyapith for having brought out a digital version of the Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi in collaboration with the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. This will enable wider dissemination of Gandhian thought and philosophy amongst people.

Ladies and Gentlemen:

9. The higher education sector in India faces numerous challenges today. On the one hand, there is need for increasing access and making education affordable. On the other, there is need to ensure quality and pursue excellence. These are not contradictory objectives but complementary goals. Quality consciousness must be at the back of every initiative in our higher academic institutions. Many meritorious students leave the shores of our country and study abroad due to lack of institutes in India conforming to high standards of education. Not many international students come to India for higher studies either. It is a worrying sign that the number of students from seven out of the top eight countries in this respect – US, Germany, France, South Korea, Australia, China and Singapore – have dipped 73 percent in 2014*. We must do all at our end to reverse this trend and make India emerge as a quality and affordable education destination for students outside.

10. The developmental challenges faced by our country call for an inspired response from the higher education system. Quality and relevant research can help tide over our socio-economic problems. To build a research eco-system, we need to adopt a multi-disciplinary approach, promote research at under-graduate level and develop scientific temper in the students. Due thrust on innovation is required to transform novel ideas into ‘viable-cum-enviable products’. Despite focused attention on innovation in recent years, India lags behind many countries on this front. At 81st position in the Global Innovation Index 2015, we have much ground to cover. An efficient set-up for mentoring innovative ideas and nurturing grassroots innovations could see our country surge ahead in innovation.

Ladies and Gentlemen:

11. India is home to a large population of the young. Demographic dividend can occur only if greater number of competent and skilled professionals is produced by our higher educational and technical institutions. This calls for skill development initiatives on a massive scale. For that, cooperation amongst our institutes is necessary. Technology must be leveraged to bring greater number of youth in the skill net. Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) has become a preferred mode of learning due to its merits of scale, speed and cost. Interactive MOOCs can offer vocational aspirants equal opportunity to learn. Such an initiative can revolutionize delivery of skills knowledge and revamp vocational education in the country. Skilling efforts would also call for fusion of traditional technology with cutting-edge technology. I am told that Gujarat Vidyapith educates students in charkha and computer with equal enthusiasm. The students here are imbibed with the spirit of ‘dignity of labour’. I am sure they will put their training to good use and become worthy citizens of our nation.

Dear students:

12. As you leave the portals of your alma mater, remember to use your education effectively. Apply the Gandhian principles at every stage of your life. With the distinct training of Heart, Hand and Head which is Nai Talim, the onus is on you to construct a Samarth Bharat. I wish everyone gathered here the very best for the future.

Thank you.

Jai Hind. 

************
Address by the President of India, Shri Pranab Mukherjee on the occasion of inauguration of the Archives and Research Centre at Sabarmati Ashram, Ahmedabad on December 1, 2015 
1.                  I am happy to visit Sabarmati Ashram today and inaugurate this new Archives and Research Centre.

2.                  I have in the past often sat on this platform of Hriday Kunj, which is a special place.  Hriday Kunj was the sparse dwelling of a frail man who brought a mighty empire to its knees. Every time I come here, I have gone away with renewed hope and faith.

3.                  Friends, we live in times when the world needs Gandhiji more than ever. The Archives and Research Centre of the Ashram which I inaugurated today is a concrete effort to conserve and disseminate Gandhiji’s legacy. The responsibility we shoulder to spread his word and message is more pressing now than ever before.

4.                  Hriday Kunj both inspires and challenges us. It tells what one man’s dedication, determination and ideals can achieve. At the same time, it also reminds us of the road we still need to traverse in order to realise Gandhiji’s dream of an India free from want, oppression and injustice.

5.                  This is a hallowed place which each one of us should visit again and again to draw strength and launch forth in the task of building the India that our founding fathers envisioned and made provision for in our great Constitution.

6.                  Gandhiji is not just the Father of our Nation. He was also the maker of our Nation. He gave us the moral vector to guide our actions, a measure by which we are judged.

7.                  Gandhiji saw India as an inclusive nation where every section of our population lived in equality and enjoyed equal opportunity. He saw India as a country which would celebrate and constantly strengthen its vibrant diversity and commitment to pluralism. Gandhiji wanted our people to move forward unitedly in ever widening thought and action. And most of all, he did not want us to convert the celebration of his life and message into a mere ritual.

8.                  Gandhiji taught us to be morally innovative. If India leads in moral innovation, all other forms of creativity which we have in abundance - would automatically fulfil the Talisman that Gandhiji gave us, namely, wiping every tear from each eye.

9.                  When I paid my homage to Mahatma Gandhi by placing the Sutar Aanti (सुतर आन्ति), I read the rare hymn composed by him in honour of the Daridra Narayan, the Poor as God. It reads:

Lord of humility,
dwelling in the little pariah hut,
help us to search for Thee throughout
that fair land watered by Ganges,
Brahmaputra and Jumna.

Give us receptiveness,
give us the open heartedness,
give us Thy humility,
give us the ability and willingness
To identify ourselves
with the masses of India.

O God,
who does help only when man
feels utterly humble, Grant that we
may not be isolated from the people
we would serve as servants and friends.

Let us be embodiments of self-sacrifice,
embodiments of godliness,
humility personified, that we may know
the land better, And love it more.

I think each and every Indian should meditate upon its meaning and significance.

10.              The real essence of Gandhiji’s legacy and its continuing resonance lies in his injunction to us that all our actions must keep in mind the last person. The last person in India is often a woman, a Dalit or an Adivasi. We must constantly ask ourselves, do our actions have meaning for them? The “Tryst with Destiny” that Pandit Nehru spoke of was this obligation.

11.              We must empower the poorest of the poor. Everyone must act as Trustees of collective welfare and wealth. The essence of being human is our trust of each other. The damage we see to the environment all around us- reminds us of the need for Trusteeship. 

12.              Every day, we see unprecedented violence all around us. At the heart of this violence is darkness, fear and mistrust. While we invent new modes of combating this ever spiralling violence, we must not forget the power of non-violence, dialogue and reason.

13.              Ahimsa is not a negative force. It is not just non-injury. Ahimsa is that moral possibility which can dispel the darkness and make us aglow with light. Gurudev Tagore and Mahatma Gandhi were bearers of this light and that light must continue to guide us.

14.              Those who abide in Truth, those who are devotees of Truth as God, of Satya Narayan, do not take lives of others, but sacrifice their own. Gandhiji gave us an object lesson in Ahimsa by taking the assassin’s bullets with the name of Rama on his lips.

15.              We must free our public discourse of all forms of violence, physical as well as verbal. Only a non-violent society can ensure the participation of all sections of the people, especially the marginalised and the dispossessed in our democratic process.

16.              The real dirt of India lies not in our streets but in our minds and in our unwillingness to let go of views that divide society into “them” and “us”, “pure” and “impure”. We must make a success of the laudable and welcome Swatch Bharat Mission. However, this also must be seen as just the beginning of a much larger and intense effort to cleanse minds and fulfil Gandhiji’s vision in all its aspects.

17.              Gandhiji would tell us – and Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar would agree with him - that so long as untouchability persists, so long as dehumanising practice of carrying night soil persists, we cannot have real Swacch Bharat. Gandhiji insisted on the dignity of all human labour and expressed his desire to be a scavenger. We must remember that Gandhiji wished to be a scavenger of our hearts as much as of our villages.

18.              Gandhiji enunciated some of the finest principles of democratic life that should at all times regulate relations of citizens and their government. He said and I quote: "The highest form of freedom carries with it the greatest measure of discipline and humility. Freedom that comes from discipline and humility cannot be denied; unbridled licence is a sign of vulgarity injurious alike to self and one's neighbours." (unquote) (Mind of Mahatma Gandhi, p. 338).

19.              Gandhiji wrote to Gurudev Tagore. “I do not want my house to be walled in on all sides and my windows to be stuffed. I want the culture of all lands to be blown about my house as freely as possible. But I refuse to be blown off my feet by any.” Sabarmati Ashram was such a place in his days.

20.              Only those who are confident of their conviction, secure in their faith and rooted in their culture can hope to live in an open house, an open society. If we close ourselves in, seek to be immune from other influences, it shows that we are prepared to live in a house that is devoid of fresh breeze. Hriday Kunj’s lesson to us in contemporary India is that we must build an open society ever ready to engage with diverse ideas and thoughts on equal terms.

21.              Friends, Gandhiji was an advocate of knowledge without barriers. Gandhiji’s life should be understood as a whole, not piecemeal, and certainly not fragmented.  Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru alerted us a few years after Gandhiji’s demise and I quote:“A new generation grows up to whom he is almost a name, a great name to be revered, but nevertheless a name. Within a few more years there will not be many left who have come in personal contact with him and had experience of that vivid, virile and magnificent personality. The legend will grow and take many shapes, sometimes with little truth in it.” (unquote)

22.              Our intangible heritage lies in our systems of thought, in ideas that are unique to this land but not exclusive to us, as they seek to embrace not only humanity but life itself. The Institutions founded by Gandhiji and those charged with the responsibility of conservation, preservation and dissemination of his heritage must take the lead in this regard. Debate and research on Gandhiji must be supported by placing in the public domain authenticated versions of Gandhiji’s writings. The Ashram must partner with other archives in the country and overseas to create Digital Commons on the life and thought of Gandhiji. 

23.              I convey my good wishes to the team of the Sabarmati Ashram who have conceptualised and created this archives and research centre. A memorial like the Ashram must remain always alive to the expectations that this nation has from it and be willing and capable of assuming new roles.  It must remain forever relevant in the imagination of the people.

24.              Friends, Gandhiji’s favourite Bhajan, “Vaishnava Jana To” was being sung this morning as I entered Hriday Kunj. This immortal hymn of Narsinh Mehta says that the true devotee is one who is compassionate and moved by empathy for others. This capacity for compassion and empathy is the true foundation of our civilisation. Gandhiji used a very special word for civilisation, SUDHAR. SUDHAR is not just the good path or the right path but also that which holds human civilisation together. Let us pledge to join hands and build an India that truly exemplifies this SUDHAR. 

Thank you.


*********************
Demonstrate that social Rejuvenation through Non-Violence is possible by educating heart and mind of youth, says President 
The President of India, Shri Pranab Mukherjee addressed the 62nd convocation of Gujarat Vidyapith today (December 01, 2015) at Ahmedabad, Gujarat.

Speaking on the occasion, the President said Gandhiji propounded the principle of Nai Talim for social reconstruction which states that knowledge and work are not separate. The constituents of Nai Talim are the 3-H: heart, hand and head. To put this philosophy into practice, Gandhiji promoted an academic curriculum of ‘basic education for all’. With ashram shalas and buniyadi schools operating in the remote areas, Gujarat is perhaps the only state where Nai Talim exists in an institutional form. Nai Talim infers charitra nirmanor character building, whose relevance is increasing by the day. Learning with value-orientation must guide our approach in education.

The President said Gujarat Vidyapith provides education aimed at building character, competence, culture and conscientiousness in students. This is needed to regenerate the country according to Gandhian ideals. Despite growing urbanization 68 percent of the country’s population still resides in rural areas. Intervention in food security, education, skill development, employment, technology dissemination, health and nutrition, housing, drinking water and sanitation would go a long way to uplift the quality of rural life and address poverty concerns.

The President said students of Gujarat Vidyapith are trained to support rural development in line with Gandhiji’s vision. They keep the campus clean through their own labour. He expressed happiness that Gujarat Vidyapith educates students in charkha and computer with equal enthusiasm and students are imbibed with the spirit of ‘dignity of labour’. He expressed confidence that they will put their training to good use and become worthy citizens of our nation.

The President said such traditions in community life are not built in a day. It must be our endeavour to proliferate this noble practice.Swachh Bharat, according to Bapu, implied a clean mind, clean body and clean environment. Every citizen has a duty to create a clean external and internal environment of self and society to make Swachh Bharat possible.

The President said Gandhiji in life and in death struggled for communal harmony. Education in peace and harmony is the key to contain and reorient the disruptive forces in society. The motto of Gujarat Vidyapith is “Sa Vidya Ya Vimuktaye”, or “Education that Liberates”. The students of Gujarat Vidyapith are not only learning Gandhian thought, but are also provided exposure to world religions. This institute should continue to demonstrate that social rejuvenation through non-violence is possible by educating the heart and mind of youth. 

***********
Real dirt of India lies not in our streets but in our minds and in our unwillingness to let go of views that divide society into ‘them’ and ‘us’, ‘pure’ and ‘impure’; free our public discourse from all forms of violence, physical as well as verbal, says President 
The President of India, Shri Pranab Mukherjee inaugurated a new Archives and Research Centre at Sabarmati Ashram, Ahmedabad, Gujarat today (December 1, 2015).

The President said we live in times when the world needs Gandhiji more than ever. The responsibility we shoulder to spread his word and message is more pressing now than ever before. Gandhiji was not just the Father of our Nation but also the maker of our Nation. He gave us the moral vector to guide our actions, a measure by which we are judged. Gandhiji saw India as an inclusive nation where every section of our population lived in equality and enjoyed equal opportunity. He saw India as a country which would celebrate and constantly strengthen its vibrant diversity and commitment to pluralism. Gandhiji wanted our people to move forward unitedly in ever widening thought and action. And most of all, he did not want us to convert the celebration of his life and message into a mere ritual.

The President said Gandhiji taught us to be morally innovative. If India leads in moral innovation, all other forms of creativity which we have in abundance - would automatically fulfil the Talisman that Gandhiji gave us, namely, wiping every tear from each eye. The real essence of Gandhiji’s legacy and its continuing resonance lies in his injunction to us that all our actions must keep in mind the last person. The last person in India is often a woman, a Dalit or an Adivasi. We must constantly ask ourselves, do our actions have meaning for them? The “Tryst with Destiny” that Pandit Nehru spoke of was this obligation. We must empower the poorest of the poor. Everyone must act as Trustees of collective welfare and wealth. The essence of being human is our trust of each other. The damage we see to the environment all around us- reminds us of the need for Trusteeship.

The President said every day we see unprecedented violence all around us. At the heart of this violence is darkness, fear and mistrust. While we invent new modes of combating this ever spiralling violence, we must not forget the power of non-violence, dialogue and reason. We must free our public discourse of all forms of violence, physical as well as verbal. Only a non-violent society can ensure the participation of all sections of the people, especially the marginalised and the dispossessed in our democratic process.

The President said the real dirt of India lies not in our streets but in our minds and in our unwillingness to let go of views that divide society into “them” and “us”, “pure” and “impure”. We must make a success of the laudable and welcome Swatch Bharat Mission. However, this also must be seen as just the beginning of a much larger and intense effort to cleanse minds and fulfil Gandhiji’s vision in all its aspects. Gandhiji would tell us – and Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar would agree with him - that so long as untouchability persists, so long as dehumanising practice of carrying night soil persists, we cannot have real Swacch Bharat. Gandhiji insisted on the dignity of all human labour and expressed his desire to be a scavenger. We must remember that Gandhiji wished to be a scavenger of our hearts as much as of our villages.

The President said only those who are confident of their conviction, secure in their faith and rooted in their culture can hope to live in an open house, an open society. If we close ourselves in, seek to be immune from other influences, it shows that we are prepared to live in a house that is devoid of fresh breeze. Hriday Kunj’s lesson to us in contemporary India is that we must build an open society ever ready to engage with diverse ideas and thoughts on equal terms.

The President said Gandhiji was an advocate of knowledge without barriers. Gandhiji’s life should be understood as a whole, not piecemeal, and certainly not fragmented. The capacity for compassion and empathy is the true foundation of our civilisation. Gandhiji used a very special word for civilisation, SUDHAR, which he said is not just the good path or the right path but also that which holds human civilisation together. Let us pledge to join hands and build an India that truly exemplifies this SUDHAR. 


No comments

Powered by Blogger.