My friend and parliamentary colleague Suresh Prabhu ji, Dr Chinmay Pandya ji, Motilal Oswal ji, Ashok Goel ji, Ajay Gupta ji, Rakesh Aggarwal ji, the team of Rishihood University, and everyone who has joined us today, my greetings to all of you.
We all know that education plays a critical role in human development, nation-building, and creating a prosperous and sustainable global future. What we have to think about is what kind of education leads to such a future. India stands poised on the cusp of change at a unique inflection point in its long history. The role of youth is going to be paramount in deciding the future of the nation, and the role of education is paramount in deciding the future of youth. What should be the aspiration of youth?
A shloka in the Atharva Veda says:
Bhadram icchhantah rishiyah swar vidayah,
tapo diksha amupanshed agre,
tato raashtram, bala, ojasya jaatam,
tadasmai deva upasannmantu
Roughly translated, the shloka says that a benign wish originated in the minds of ancient seers, the rishis during their tapasya. This benign wish was for Abhyudayam, the welfare and glory of all. The rishis realized this benign wish of the universal wellbeing and that wish has invigorated the consciousness of the Rashtram. That should be the aspiration of youth—to go beyond themselves in the service of society, the nation, and the world.
When Swami Vivekananda gave a clarion call for each of us to become rishis, he motivated us to follow a purpose of life that makes us achieve our full potential. In other words, he exhorted us to pursue an ideal which is larger than ourselves and also leads to universal good—atmano mokshartham jagat hitaya cha.
I am delighted that Rishihood University is founded on these principles and I sincerely hope that through this initiative, we will be able to create rishis of the future. Rishis, who will become leaders in various walks of life, including entrepreneurship, civil society, research, education, science and technology, diplomacy and many others. Rishis who will inspire the rest of society to lead a life that is holistic, meaningful, and fulfilling. I was happy to note the combination of subject areas that Rishihood has chosen, such as entrepreneurship, healthcare, creativity, education, and public leadership, which play a critical role and can lead to the right ecosystem for national development.
While we seek to establish such a model of education, we should look at the current reality of education. We know that there has to be all-round improvement on the education front. For instance, the quality of research, teaching at all levels, rankings by international agencies, employability of our graduates and many other aspects of our education system need to be toned up.
The National Education Policy seeks to address all such issues and pave the way for India to realize its potential in the education sector and become a Vishwa Guru once again. The NEP is an important milestone in our quest to drastically improve the quality indicators of education. It is truly a visionary document that can transform the education landscape in India. It can lead to education becoming a holistic, value-based, and happy learning experience. With emphasis on interdisciplinary learning, research and knowledge production, autonomy to institutions, multi-lingual education, and many such vital policy measures, we are moving towards a major change in the way education is imparted.
Dear sisters and brothers
We need to remember that India has a glorious parampara of holistic education. We need to revive that parampara and I would like new universities like Rishihood to take the lead in this regard. As a matter-of-fact, every educational institution must implement NEP in letter and spirit. As Swami Vivekananda had rightly said and I quote: “We want that education by which character is formed, strength of mind is increased, the intellect is expanded, and by which one can stand on one’s own feet
Dear sisters and brothers,
I know there are many principals, teachers, and professors present today. I laud your efforts in leaving no stone unturned during the difficult times of the pandemic. Your dedication is inspirational. During this time, we should also look at the important role technology is playing in democratizing education and taking learning to the last mile. The fast adoption of technology in education along with the IT-related revolution in India in the delivery of public services, financial inclusion, and telecom infrastructure has come at a time when our youth are leading in innovation, launching successful start-ups, building unicorns, and contributing to economic growth. When we take good education to the last mile, the untapped potential of the students can be harnessed for the larger good.
As we know, India was once hailed as Vishwa Guru. We had great institutions like Nalanda, Takshashila, and Pushpagiri where students from all corners of the world came to learn. We must regain that intellectual leadership and emerge as a global hub of learning and innovation. When I see the tagline in today’s event of Rebuilding Takshashila, I am imagining how Takshashila would look today. The idea is not to create a building in an ancient form of architecture where students are sitting on the floor and learning something. We must recognize the basic principles which made Takshashila what it was. In Chanakya, who taught at Takshashila, and Chandragupta who was his student, we see the relationship that developed between a guru and his shishya. We see how multi-disciplinary education based on spirituality led to the training of Chandragupta. We see the central role that questions and answers played in pedagogy. This is what ignites curiosity, enhances capacity, and fosters creativity in a student.
Apart from imparting quality education, teachers must also instil a sense of purpose in our youth and inculcate in students the ability to handle difficult situations with equanimity and aplomb. That is what leadership is all about. And for developing such leadership capabilities, we need to draw lessons from our glorious past and the wisdom of rishis. For any country to flourish and develop, it is important to look back to its roots. Bharat’s civilizational wisdom has a crucial role to play when it comes to the grand challenges that the world is facing today. Whether it is a human approach towards the environment, our view of health and wellness, equitable wealth distribution, sustainable development, social cohesiveness, and so on, the direction that our civilizational wisdom and our rishis have provided to us needs to be studied deeply.
I am happy to be inaugurating Rishihood University today which aspires to take up this important nation-building endeavour. I also congratulate all members of the faculty and students at this educational institution.
Address by Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu, Honourable Vice President after inaugurating Rishihood University in New Delhi on December 18, 2021.