Address by Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu, Honourable Vice President of India at the 11th Convocation of the Saveetha Institute of Medical and Technical Sciences in Chennai on February 22, 2018.

Chennai | February 22, 2018

"It is indeed a great pleasure for me to deliver the convocation address on the occasion of the 11th convocation of Saveetha Institute of Medical and Technical Sciences, (SIMATS) Chennai.

Today is a red letter for all the students, who are receiving their degrees. You are witnessing a major milestone in your career and I would like to congratulate all those who are graduating, their parents and the faculty on this occasion.

Dear students, a world of opportunities and challenges awaits you all as you bid adieu to this campus to start a new innings. No doubt, you will be missing your friends and the faculty, but the happy times you have spent here will always remain etched in your memory.

I would like to compliment Dr. N.M. Veeraiyan, the Founder Chancellor of Saveetha University for having contributed to the cause of this university which is providing quality education through a multitude of academic programmes. I am told that students are drawn from all over India and abroad, representing different sections. It makes Saveetha Institute one of the India’s most ethnically diverse learning centres.

I am told that the university also has touched many lives through community service, particularly in health care. I am also informed that the university has adopted numerous innovations that created a unique platform of learner-centric education. I am glad to know that the campus is part of the National Knowledge Network that provides this university with a greater bandwidth for use.

Dear students, with the advent of the globally competitive educational environment, I strongly feel that every student should have adequate opportunities to gain knowledge, technical skills, self-reliance, and also a sense of responsibility as a fellow citizen. This can be better accomplished by providing quality academic programmes and exposing students to real life situations.

In today’s environment, students have to actively participate in the learning process with the teachers acting more as facilitators rather than textbook-type instructors. The instruction must be so designed as to make the students learn life-skills and knowledge. In fact, it has be to a continuous learning process in the medical field as the doctors need to keep themselves constantly updated with the latest knowledge and techniques.

I have observed that when students are empowered, they take ownership, develop passion and display dedication and commitment to pursue their academic goals. This is the reason why the Government of India has taken radical initiatives, including promotion of ‘Value-Based Education’.

In its pursuit of this vision, the government has initiated some highly innovative programmes, including Digital India, Skill India and Clean India, which are expected to spur the national growth.

Though, we have a long way to go to realise the fullest potential of our educational initiatives, India has remarkably transformed its higher education landscape for the last two decades. As a result, India has not only bettered its figures on enrolment but has dramatically enhanced its learning outcomes. India has 70 million student population; a force to reckon with. Among them are potential thought leaders, researchers, academicians, entrepreneurs and executives.

India’s post-secondary education system is increasingly recognized as one of the best in the world. India has emerged as a regional hub of education and attracts global learners from all over the world. Students, faculty and employers now flock to India to learn, teach and recruit as India dons the mantle of a higher education leader and emerges as the role model for delivering high-quality education to vast numbers at affordable cost.

India is one of the largest providers of global talent, with one in four who graduate in the world being a product of the Indian system. Tamil Nadu has performed remarkably well in the area of education and has emerged as the leader in the country in terms of Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) in higher education.

Dear students, now I would like to flag an issue that is close to my heart. As you all are aware, there is an acute shortage of doctors as also healthcare facilities in the rural areas. India has less than one doctor for every 1,000 population, which is less than the WHO standard. This situation needs to be remedied. I feel that it should be made mandatory for MBBS graduates to work for at least two years in rural areas.

We cannot have two Indias with the cities having the state-of-the-art facilities and the rural areas lagging behind. The private sector must play a bigger role in bridging this gap, not only in terms of turning out more number of medicos but also in creating healthcare infrastructure. However, the private sector health facilities must not only be accessible to the needy and poor, but must also be affordable. The healthcare facilities in rural areas, particularly in remote places, need to be augmented through public-private partnership.

In a bid to improve the health infrastructure as also the manpower, the government has recently approved the setting up of 24 new government medical colleges. As a result, it is expected that there will be one medical college for every three Parliamentary Constituencies and at least one medical college in every State. Ultimately, the aim should be to have one medical college for every district in the country.

Ayushman Bharat Yojana is another initiative that seeks to provide quality healthcare to about 50 crore people in the country.

There is also a need to step up budgetary allocations to healthcare sector by various State Governments and the Union Government.

I am glad to know that the super-specialty hospitals of Saveetha Institute are providing health care services free of cost to the rural poor of this region. Others must also emulate this institute.

I am also told this institution has taken numerous steps to inculcate research culture among the students by giving an opportunity to faculty and students to involve in scientific, interdisciplinary, cross-professional research which is supported by grants.

We should remember our languages and protect our languages.

On the occasion of the Convocation, as Vice President of the nation I would like to advise all the state governments that every state must make it a mandatory to have mother tongue up to high school level. Other languages can also be taken up as additional languages. First you must master your mother tongue.

What is most important is to promote the use of mother tongue.

A child can grasp and understand better in his or her own mother tongue than any other language. Not only that, a child will be able to communicate and articulate her thoughts effectively in her native language.

We can usually express our thoughts much better in our mother language. It has been found that children learn better, especially at the primary stage, if they are taught in their mother language.

We live in a multicultural and multilingual world. We need to preserve this multilingual nature of our world and the best way to do that is to preserve our individual languages and further enrich them.

Since language and culture are intertwined, there is an absolute need to strengthen our indigenous languages including the many languages spoken by many tribal groups in our country.

Language is the lifeline of a culture and in a way defines the larger social milieu in which a society lives.

Language plays an important role not only in communication but also in creating a bond of oneness among the people who speak the same tongue.

Life of the great people must be a part of History to all students including medical students. A country which forgets its history and culture will never prosper. You must remember the past and plan for the future and move accordingly. We have to revert back to our roots, we have to know our culture.

In the end, I would like you to be mindful of the path ahead which will be highly challenging. As stated by the former President, Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam:

‘Learning gives creativity,

Creativity leads to thinking

Thinking provides knowledge,

Knowledge makes you great’.

I would like to compliment the faculty members for their tireless commitment and extend greetings to all my dear young friends, who are graduating today. I would also like to congratulate eminent persons who are receiving ‘Honorary Causa’ for their exemplary accomplishments. I wish everyone a happy and rewarding future.

So to end this, I would say realize your potential, realize what you can do in life, ‘Be the change you want to see in the world’ as said by Mahatma Gandhi.

Make yourself, your parents and the country proud.

Thank you. JAI HIND !"