It gives me immense pleasure to participate in the 28th Convocation of Pondicherry University.
I am glad that, over the last 35 years since its establishment in 1985, Pondicherry University, a Central University has been providing instructional and research facilities and has emerged as a world-class university with an incredible increase not only in students’ intake every year but also in ranking and performance.
I am happy to learn that in addition to the conventional courses, the university has also started “add-on courses” during evening hours to help the scholars, students and the employed youth to go in pursuit of higher advanced studies. This is in consonance with the over-all approach of lifelong learning that the rapidly changing world of work demands.
It is heartening to learn that 6557 students are studying in various university departments and that nearly half of them are girls. I am happy to note that students from different parts of the country studying at this university are contributing to the rich diversity in the academic environment. In order to provide a good learning environment for the students, the University has not only a world class Library with a collection of 4.67 lakhs books including print and digital material but also has a 100% wi-fi enabled campus.
I am indeed happy to learn that the Lt. Governor of Puducherry and Chief Rector of Pondicherry University, Dr. Kiran Bedi has launched the President of India’s new Project, “From Corporate Social Responsibility to University Social Responsibility” in July 2018.
The inauguration of Community Services such as blood donation, organ donation, eye-checkup, photo exhibition and health check-up in Pondicherry University Community College are some of the remarkable achievements. I am glad that the university wishes to be the first university to implement Swatch Bharat in the campus. I hope you will be integrating UGC’s sustainability principles into campus operations for achieving green and sustainable campus environment.
Universities cannot and should not remain the proverbial ‘ivory towers’. They are institutions that expand the universe of knowledge. They are “Vishwa Vidyalayas” which create, connect and transmit knowledge across generations, across geographies. The knowledge is not fragmented but composite, integrated and connected with life. They must be intimately connected with the social life of the people. Academics must be rooted in the socio-economic context but must flower and spread the fragrance of knowledge across the globe. This connection will result in a great synergy and unleash the untapped energy of our people. I am very pleased to know that over 103 villages have been adopted by the varsity and its affiliated colleges in and around its campus and that the university is aiming to make these villages as ‘Model Villages’.
I understand that the Community College, which is a part of University, is of immense help to the rural youth. The motto of Pondicherry University Community College is “Education for Employment through Skills Formation”. The educational activities are designed in line with the needs and demands of the local community. More specifically, the main objective of this College is “to offer job-oriented courses based on the perceived community demand for specific manpower”. In short, Community College is “for” the Community and “of” the Community.
Any university that aims at academic and research excellence must keep itself in the forefront of the knowledge revolution. This is possible only if the university keeps its doors and windows open to new trends and innovative ideas from across the globe.
It is heartening to learn that Pondicherry University has signed MoUs with prestigious institutions like National Chin-Yi University, Taiwan, National Chung Cheng University, Taiwan, Chungbuk National University, Korea, University of Toulon, France, Zhaw Zurich University of Applied Sciences, Switzerland and University of East Paris, France.
I also very much appreciate the faculty members, who have won recognition by getting prestigious International/National awards and Prizes. The focus on research and publication is evident from the 150 research projects that they have been working on during the last five years and the number of publications which have gone up to 781 this academic year. I urge you to take advantage of UGC’s scheme for Trans-Disciplinary Research for India’s developing economy called STRIDE under which you can take up innovative research projects that are socially relevant, locally need-based, nationally important and globally significant.
The South Zone Vice-Chancellors’ Conference held in the varsity in December 2018 was yet another important event. It was excellent occasion for learning about the best practices in the universities in South India. I understand that the meet was organized jointly by Pondicherry University and Association of Indian Universities (AIU) and was attended by about 70 Vice-Chancellors from the southern region.
Not only in academics but also in the field of sports, the university has been taking excellent initiatives. I am happy to learn that the varsity has conducted “The South Zone Inter-University Football Tournament for Men” at the Rajiv Gandhi Sports Stadium in Pondicherry University in December 2018.
I congratulate all students graduating today. I am happy to note that 335 Ph.D., 26 M. Phil., 3498 PG, 11048 UG, 113 Diploma, and 4269 students through Distance Education are obtaining their degrees and that 189 candidates are going to receive the Gold Medals in this convocation.
Let me congratulate each one of you, dear students, for getting the degrees you rightly deserve.
Degrees are a badge of recognition. A recognition that you have successfully completed a course of studies. A recognition that you have acquired new knowledge, new skills that equip you for the world of work as well as for further learning.
But remember, this is merely a stepping stone, a mere ‘enabler’ for you to pursue your academic, professional and personal dreams. You have a whole exciting world to explore, to understand, to contribute to.
You are graduating at a time when the world of work is changing very fast. New ways of working, new ways of collaborating, new ways of measuring success are emerging. In this world of rapid transformation, you cannot afford to be complacent with what you have accomplished.
To function effectively in this ever changing scenario, you need to be agile. You should be able to absorb new inputs. You should be able to adapt global good practices to your own context. You should try to aim for excellence. You should be pro-active, forward looking and aim for greater heights. And you must work systematically to achieve your goals.
Your university is located in Puducherry which has seen a confluence of cultures, the French and the Indian traditions. It has ‘newness’ (pudu) in its name. It is a place where great poet Subrahmanya Bharati spent ten years in exile. It is also a place that has given a new vision of integral education to the world expounded by Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. It is good to remind ourselves of what Sri Aurobindo had said about living education: He had said, “… that alone will be a true and living education which helps to bring out to full advantage, makes ready for the full purpose and scope of human life all that is in the individual man…” He has laid out a big canvas for human excellence. He has emphasized that education has to be holistic. It has to be enlightening and empowering. It should not be merely for employment.
Regarding the role of the teacher, Sri Aurobindo’s vision was that teachers are primarily helpers and guides, not merely instructors or task masters. He had said, “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 see how teachers can move away from mere lecturing to become facilitators and mentors, guides and friendly role models. We need to internalize these principles and integrate them in our system. We should think as to how we can make education a more holistic process, a process that refines human beings and expands not only the intellect and skills but also the essential human qualities like empathy, compassion, respect, tolerance and positive thinking.
The curriculum and the mastery of the subjects that are taught is the most important aspect of any educational process.
But we need to go beyond it.
We must emphasize the crucial aspect of what is commonly called, “emotional intelligence”, the ability to be a good human being, a balanced, rational and sensitive person who uses knowledge for the common good of humanity.
We must give equal importance to all the four pillars of learning suggested by UNESCO. Learning to know, learning to do, learning to be and learning to live together are equally important. In the present global context, the fourth dimension – learning to live together – is perhaps the most important.
In this learning process, the faculty members have a great responsibility. Their intellect and personal conduct can facilitate and enrich learning across all the four dimensions. Only they can ensure that education becomes truly comprehensive covering head, hand and heart and becomes more socially relevant contributing to the improvement in the quality of living standards.
In this regard, I would like to draw your attention to UGC’s guidelines “Mulya Pravah – Inculcation of Human Values and Professional ethics in Higher Educational Institutions”. As these guidelines indicate, you should strive to create the following five systems:
- The learning process for holistic development
- Impeccable governance
- Effective institutional management
- Well laid system of rewards and chastisement
- Institutional climate where ‘rights’ enjoy and ‘wrongs’ are discouraged.
I do hope all of you, the faculty members, the administration and the students will continue your efforts, under the able leadership of the Vice Chancellor to bring great laurels to this institution in the years to come. I look forward to greater achievements through setting new ambitious benchmarks and making excellence your watchword, collaboration your modality and continuous improvement your way of life.
I wish you all the very best.