“It is indeed wonderful to participate in the 34th Convocation of the world’s largest residential university for women’s education, Banasthali Vidyapith.
I am grateful to your distinguished Vice-Chancellor for inviting me to deliver the Convocation address. It is a great honour to visit and be a part of this celebratory event.
Banasthali University has over the years developed a widely admired distinct identity. Conceived and nurtured by Pandit Hiralal Shastri, a senior civil servant, who gave up his well paid job to start an institution devoted to rural reconstruction, it has evolved into an excellent academic institution. His wife and co-founder of Banasthali Vidyapith, Smt. Ratan Shastri has been the moving spirit behind this institution. Generations of young girls blossomed under her personal, supportive care. She was conferred Padma Shri in 1955, Padma Bhushan in 1975 and Jamnalal Bajaj Award for outstanding contribution in the field of upliftment and welfare of women and children. I salute Pt. Hiralal Shastri, as well as Smt. Ratan Shastri and all those who helped them in shaping this great institution.
Today, we celebrate the achievements of the students who have successfully completed their programme of study. We also celebrate the tireless dedicated efforts of the faculty in shaping this university.
I extend my best wishes to all of you and hope that you will make use of the knowledge and training you have acquired to pursue your own dreams.
I do hope that in addition to a fulfilled personal life, you would also be able to make a mark on the ancient land you belong to. Banasthali graduates are known the world over for their leadership qualities and have become Governors, corporate chief executives, international sportspersons, renowned artists and musicians, leading administrators, eminent educationists, social activists, and have by and large brought radical transformation in their families, organizations and surroundings. I am sure you all shall follow suit and carry the baton of leadership from your elder sisters.
Sisters and Brothers,
On this beautiful morning, I had a good opportunity to have a glimpse of the range of activities of this unique university located in sylvan surroundings. Clearly, Banasthali Vidyapith has over the last many years emerged as a dynamic educational institution preparing its students for the many roles that they may assume in life. It has carved a niche for itself among the cluster of educational institutions in the state and country and continues to spread its wings far and wide.
I feel that education should be holistic, life giving and character building. The Panchmukhi Shiksha (Five Fold Education) model of Banasthali Vidyapith is an innovative way to impart holistic education that enables every student to recognize her innate potential, and help her in integrating the knowledge gained with its cultural and environmental context.
It is indeed gratifying to note that Banasthali Vidyapith has come a long way in its journey to provide education to women. In the era when literacy was low and girls remained confined to homes, Banasthali Vidyapith became the pioneer in the cause of education of girls. In the era when the women were learning to use bicycles, Banasthali Vidyapith ensured that women rode horses, and reached for greater heights as gliders and pilots. Again in the era when women are asked to settle down in mundane jobs after professional education, Banasthali Vidyapith nurtured the likes of Ft. Lt. Avani Chaturvedi, one of the first fighter pilots inducted into Indian Air Force. Today when Science and Technology courses still remain male dominated, the students of this premier university for women are learning the Internet of Things and gaining technological skills in the most advanced industry 4.0 laboratories of Mechatronics and Robotics.
I have been told that currently Banasthali Vidyapith is the highest ranked non-governmental women’s university in India, and has been adjudged The University of the Year 2016 by FICCI, and has won several other national and international awards and honours. The day is not far when we will see the name of this university rising higher in world university rankings.
Dear Students, you should remember that a university scales new heights not only because of its existing students but also because of the engagement of its successful alumni in its entire endeavours. I hope that you will attain great heights and keep contributing not only to the success of your alma mater but also towards the wellbeing of the society, the nation and the World.
Today, we feel proud that our country has made remarkable achievements in many fields. Our universities and institutions of higher learning have produced a good number of scientists and professionals who are making extraordinary contribution in their own fields. Yet, we should not be complacent. Even the ‘best’ can become ‘better’.
I have been informed that in the last one decade Banasthali has made a significant contribution to science education and research. The student enrollment has tripled in Basic Sciences and several centres of excellence have been established. Even while visiting the science centres, I could see state-of-the-art infrastructure, world class labs with latest sophisticated equipment. I am sure that our young women scientists graduating today are an invaluable asset to the nation. I congratulate and wish each one of them a rewarding career and a fulfilling life.
Ours is a country with a long, illustrious history. Will Durant, the famous philosopher, has said : “India was the motherland of our race, and Sanskrit the mother of Europe’s languages: she was the mother of our philosophy; mother, through the Arabs, of much of our mathematics; mother, through the Buddha, of the ideals embodied in Christianity; mother, through the village community, of self-government and democracy. Mother India is in many ways the mother of us all”.
Please consider what the great scientist Albert Einstein said: “We owe a lot to Indians who taught us how to count, without which no worthwhile scientific discovery could have been made.”
You and I have inherited this intellectual and philosophical tradition. The question is how aware are we of this grand inheritance. More importantly, can we continue this quest for excellence? The answer, my dear friends, lies in each Indian’s mind and heart. We must know what India stood for and then nourish the beautiful tree continuously with devotion and dedication. Diffidence and despair should be dispelled.
As our country sets itself to achieve new benchmarks in growth and development, it is beyond doubt that women’s empowerment would be a key determining factor and I believe that education is the best way to empower women. We still have formidable challenges in our country. One third of our women cannot read and write. Women enrollment in higher educational institutions is far less than men. These gender gaps need to be bridged. Literacy and education are the foundations for a strong, inclusive, gender-responsive India.
Today, we need to strategically work together and become a developed nation. Human resources have to be enriched. We have to work diligently to provide diversified educational opportunities to enhance employability. We need women and men with right knowledge, skills and attitudes to generate wealth and contribute to inclusive growth. Our country has a distinct advantage because of the demographic structure. About two thirds of our population is below 35 years of age. Equipped with skills and knowledge, this can result in a big demographic dividend. This is the task before the nation today. The government has been responding to the challenge through programmes like Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao. However, this has to be a societal mission in which institutions like yours has a prominent role.
To me, Banasthali Vidyapith is an epitome of tradition and modernity. I have learnt that many rare books are available in the library which have been preserved by digitization. The amalgamation of Digital India, Skill India and Clean India is apparent in the campus and is worth appreciation. With the recent establishment of the Atal Incubation Centre, the institution will also be able to take pride in its young entrepreneurs and will be a role model for Start Up India campaign as well.
Banasthali Vidyapith has a unique educational ideology of Panchmukhi shiksha and over these 82 years of both struggle and glory it has emerged as a premier institution of women’s education and is well on its way to be recognized internationally for being unique in ways more than one.
You, my dear young friends, are so fortunate to be able to study in this dynamic University which is so agile. It is rooted in our rich fertile soil. Yet it liberates you to experience the fresh breeze of knowledge from everywhere. It enlivens and enlightens you through the bright sunshine of wisdom.
The logo of Banasthali Vidyapith is imbued with the same spirit of our ancient Sanskrit text “Sa Vidya Ya Vimuktaye” (Education is that which Liberates). I hope you grow from strength to strength in the years to come. I also wish Banasthali Vidyapith, the pace setter in Women’s education, many more glorious years as the fountain – head of knowledge."