Address by Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu, Honourable Vice President of India to the Faculty and Students of Pondicherry University, in Puducherry on July 06, 2018.

Pondicherry | July 6, 2018

"I am delighted to interact with you all in this historic city and share my thoughts.

I am glad to know from your distinguished Vice Chancellor, Prof Gurmeet Singh, on the progress you are collectively making on various fronts and the hard work being put in by each one of you to shape this University into a centre of excellence.

As Chancellor of this University, I am happy that you have been ranked 13th in the All India rankings by the MHRD in 2016. I noted with satisfaction that you were the first University in the country to start a community college focused on skill development for enhancing employability. I am also pleased that you are using IT extensively in the academic, research and administrative functions of the University. I urge you to keep up the momentum. Please don’t let complacency set in. Strive to be the best and keep innovating.

Today we are living in interesting times. India is emerging as a major world player economically. We are in a transformational, aspirational India. In consonance with the Prime Minister’s call to reform, perform and transform, each institution must look closely into its own functioning and identify areas that require reform and those that require transformation. We must also raise the productivity, efficiency and effectiveness and make our processes more transparent, people-friendly and responsive to the needs of our people we are serving.

Indian economy, which is growing at more than 7 per cent, is poised to become the third largest economy in the coming 10-15 years. As the economy transforms, the educational and job opportunities for the youth are also bound to increase and the living standards of the people are expected to improve further.

With the country having the unique advantage of a vast youth population, the need of the hour is to fully tap the potential of the human capital by ensuring that they have the knowledge and skills required for the 21st century world. Simultaneously, we must ensure that there are enough opportunities for them to start new enterprises and generate new jobs.

While the government is already focusing on these two aspects through programmes like Skill India and Start up India, Universities like yours have an onerous responsibility to create new courses and improve the teaching learning processes to make the students ready to take on these challenges.

Although, lakhs of students are passing out of the portals of our higher educational institutions each year, majority of them are lacking employable skills.

I appeal all the Universities in the country to teach various subjects including Science and Technology in their respective mother tongues.

Education should bring out the best in man and lead to his enlightenment and empowerment. It is an instrument for socio-economic transformation of the individuals and the society at large. Education is the process of continuous learning and does not end with the acquisition of a degree. Education must inculcate strong moral and ethical values and facilitate the holistic development of an individual.

Dear students,

My advice to all of you is to dream big and aim high. Think that the whole world of knowledge is open to you. You master the basics well and move on to acquire higher competencies. Learning must be fun, enjoyable. It must be a constant source of pleasure rather than being a drudgery and a burden you feel like getting rid of.

Sri Aurobindo, the famous spiritual personality associated with Pondicherry, had stated that,

“To love to learn is the most precious gift that one can give to a child: to love to learn always and everywhere, so that all circumstances, all happenings in life may be constantly renewed opportunities for learning more and always more.”

This love for learning and quest for solutions is what needs to be an integral part of every school and University system. As stated earlier, there is a need to vastly improve the quality of education in the Indian universities. The faculty must be constantly learning and help students to access new resources and update the knowledge base. In this context, it is worth recalling what Aurobindo, the great thinker, saint and philosopher had to say about the process of teaching and learning. He had said,

“The first principle of true teaching is that nothing can be taught. The teacher is not an instructor or taskmaster; he is a helper and a guide. His business is to suggest and not to impose. He does not actually train the pupil’s mind; he only shows him how to perfect his instruments of knowledge and helps and encourages him in the process. He does not impart knowledge to him; he shows him how to acquire knowledge for himself.”

We should reorient our teaching in a way that it brings out the latent talents of the students. We need to turn our universities into global centres of excellence in innovation and research. Like in ancient times when India was known as ‘Vishwaguru’, our universities must attract knowledge-seekers from all over the world. To achieve this, the professional competence of teachers has to be enhanced in a significant manner.

Universities are expected to not only provide quality education, but more importantly develop global citizens equipped to deal with contemporary challenges in a competent manner.

Education must build character, competence and capacity besides promoting good conduct.

An important aspect that I would like to touch upon in the current context is the need for gender sensitization. Some of the recent incidents of crime against women are shameful and a matter of serious concern. We all have to act collectively to raise awareness against discrimination of the girl child.

There should be renewed focus on gender equality and safety of women. And this gender sensitization must begin at home and continue in schools, colleges and Universities.

Dear students,

You have an opportunity to study in one of the premier institutions of higher learning in our country. Make full use of your opportunities available here. Look at the opportunities in the wider world as well.

The “world of learning” and the “world of work” are changing at a very fast pace.

You need to be adept and adaptable, agile and innovative.

The education, knowledge and the skills you have acquired all these years must be used to transform the world through disruptive innovations and make it a better place for living.

Gandhiji had said once, “Healthy discontent is the prelude to progress.” Please cultivate the spirit of creative dissatisfaction. Innovation is born of this creative dissatisfaction.

While keeping abreast with the modern day trends and changes, you must not forget your roots.

Please remember that you are inheritors of a great culture.

It is a culture that has valued knowledge.

It is a culture that has held scholars in high esteem.

It is a culture that believed that we must learn from the best minds from across the world.

Try to get a glimpse into our ancient treasures, nuggets of wisdom, of which there are quite a large number. They have gems of wisdom and give you the illumination when you are in a dilemma as to which path of action is better. These give you the foundation for ethical behavior and enable you to take decisions that are good for you as well those around you. Be pro-active global citizens with a strong Indian roots. I recall what Mahatma Gandhi had said:

“I do not want my house to be walled in on all sides and my windows to be stuffed. I want the cultures of all the lands to be blown about my house as freely as possible. But I refuse to be blown off my feet by any.”

You must keep these words in mind as you create your individual identity. You must aim to absorb the good thoughts from wherever they come. You must actually look for these noble ideas and build on them.

I once again thank the Vice Chancellor for giving this opportunity to visit the University and learn about the good work being done by all of you. I hope with your efforts, this University will rise to greater heights. I wish you all the very best in your endeavor.

Jai Hind!"