Address by Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu, Honourable Vice President of India at the 7th Convocation of O.P. Jindal Global University, in New Delhi on August 07, 2018.

New Delhi | August 7, 2018

“It gives me immense pleasure to be a part of the convocation ceremony of Jindal Global University that is making a name for itself as a centre of excellence in social sciences and humanities.

Convocations are important occasions for the graduating students as they mark the culmination of their hand work and the beginning of a new chapter to pursue their dreams. I convey my best wishes to all the graduating students. I would also like to congratulate their parents and the faculty of this university.

I am sure that the academic foundation laid at O.P. Jindal Global University will equip these young minds to go out into the real world and bring glory to India.

Dear Sisters and Brothers, education must not only equip the students with skills and knowledge to face the contemporary and future challenges, but also inculcate humane values, tolerance, promote ethical and compassionate behaviour. A person with a strong moral compass will not get swayed or compromise on integrity. Education must bring out the best in man and enable holistic development of an individual.

Here, I would like to recall the famous words of the father of the nation, Mahatma Gandhi, who said : “ an education which does not teach us to discriminate between good and bad, to assimilate the one and eschew the other, is a misnomer”. When India was under the colonial rule, the Father of the Nation also said: Education should be so revolutionised as to answer the wants of the poorest villager, instead of answering those of an imperial exploiter.

Education is the bedrock on which depends the progress of a nation and its people. In the present era of globalisation and materialism, we need an education system that not only sets new benchmarks of excellence but fosters a caring and sharing attitude, cultivates an inclusive outlook and promotes the need to become one with nature.

As we plan to meet the future challenges, we should not forget our past. India was once known as ‘Vishwaguru’ with researchers and knowledge-seekers from al over the world flocking to centres of learning like Nalanda and Takshashila. The time has come for India to rediscover its potential to become once again the global hub of knowledge and innovation. We need to build the right ecosystem for academic excellence to thrive by revamping our education system.

Merely adding glossy buildings with good facades and setting up more universities is not enough. We have to reorient the education system in accordance with the changing needs and enable the students to fearlessly face and overcome unexpected and new challenges. For this to happen, our institutions of higher learning must revamp their methods of teaching, give up business-as-usual approach and create rigorous academic standards.

India is a young nation today with about 65 per cent of the population below the age of 35 years. No other nation is blessed with such a major demographic advantage. We need to convert this vast human capital into national wealth creators by imparting the right education, knowledge and skills to the youth.

Dear students,

India is the fastest growing economy today and the opportunities to all of you would be abundant in different fields. With India slated to become one of the leading economies in the world in the next 15-20 years, all of you must channelise your knowledge, skills and energies in the right direction to achieve your dreams and contribute to the country’s development.

As you move to pursue your goals, life will not be a bed of roses. There will be obstacles, setbacks and tough situations. You will encounter testing times. But nothing should deter or swerve you from reaching your goals. Unperturbed, you must continue on your path with complete dedication and determination. Remember that there is no substitute for hard work.

I believe that success should be accompanied with responsibility and I urge all the happy graduating students to work with moral uprightness and conduct themselves with dignity and honour as you step into your varied careers.

Apart from equipping a student with skills and knowledge, education must provide enlightenment to an individual. The importance of a robust higher education cannot be over-emphasised. Quality higher education contributes to economic and human development of a nation. As India embarks on its journey to become a prosperous middle income country, I have little doubt that innovative, futuristic universities will be the drivers of this huge transformation. In this context, I would like to recall the three-word mantra of Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi—‘Reform,Perform and Transform’. Thus, education will be the key driver of India’s transformation to prosperity.

I am sure institutions like O.P. Jindal Global University will fulfil the expectations of raising the quality of learning and research that benefits India’s rise as a major world power.

The Knowledge Commission of India’s reports pertaining to higher education have called for both qualitative as well as quantitative enhancement in universities in India, especially in innovative ways of teaching and research that will solve social problems and fulfil the dreams of our youthful population.

Sadly, the World University Rankings over the years have not been featuring even a single Indian university in the list of top 200 ranked institutions of the world. I am deeply conscious of the fact that other developing countries like China have made vast strides in quality higher education, while India has lagged behind. We need to change this dismal scenario and infuse new values and future-oriented thinking in our universities, particularly by learning from best practices of other universities around the world which have leapfrogged in a short duration.

Education, and particularly higher education, has been a critical component of bringing change in a society. We have to raise standards relating to the quality of teaching, faculty, research, and capacity building in our universities so that they raise India’s stature as a knowledge-producing rising power and also provide opportunities to our youth to build careers that are meaningful and rewarding. India’s quest to improve living standards of our masses is directly linked to the quality of education.

I want to emphasise the word ‘quality’ because we have seen a number of new universities being created in the last two decades to meet the quantity of our ‘youth bulge’. However, it is sad that there has been no dramatic rise in the quality of teaching and research that could propel India into the league of the world’s best universities.

Our institutions are still saddled with unnecessary bureaucratic baggage, narrow academic politics and absence of visionary administrative leadership. Financial weakness and low quality of higher education are two sides of the same coin. I wish to emphasise that that significant private sector contributions are vital for new and innovative universities to come up.

Excessive dependence on state for funding and expansion is not a viable option in the era of globalisation. As a growing and emerging power, India must gear up to bring the necessary changes in our system. The burden of this expectation of improving our universities falls on all of us, particularly various government ministries in charge of higher education, academicians and even the private sector.

In order to create world class universities, we must draw from experiences around the world, and, a mere glance at top ranked public and private universities around the world makes it apparent that the non-profit system is one effective way to ensure excellence in teaching, research and capacity-building

Strong, non-profit, philanthropic private universities, aimed at providing quality education and promoting academic freedom need to emerge at the earliest. This process needs to go hand-in hand with the development of existing public universities that suffer from inadequate funding for faculty and infrastructure. One pertinent solution to the crisis facing higher education in India could be the initiation and expansion of the non-profit system. Practised effectively by private institutions, it operates on the principle that the additional income generated by the institution is retained and used for its academic growth such as research initiatives, scholarships and fellowships, as well as infrastructure development.

Dear Sisters and Brothers,

India today occupies a strategic position in global trade and economy. The question is how to create more value in our production of knowledge and human capital and how to nurture fine educational institutions?

I believe that our universities should have open doors to collaborations with the best institutions in the world to ensure student mobility, joint faculty research and joint projects. That way, some of the deficits in our system can be overcome through knowledge transfer. We are in an era where innovation need not mean reinventing the wheel on all aspects of university management and functioning. We can easily pick up good ideas and adapt them to Indian conditions, provided we have an open mind.

One key area of reform is the imperative to inspire the best students across the country to take up academics as a full-time career and to retain them as university faculty members. Besides retention of good academic talent, democratisation of knowledge is essential as well. To attract academic talent from across the globe, we need to re-examine our faculty recruitment policies.

I have noted that O.P. Jindal Global University has a large number of full-time foreign faculty members recruited from top universities across the world. More such innovations will be required to connect our higher educational goals with global talent.

We also need to create conducive intellectual environments for highly qualified Indians working overseas to come back and work in our universities.

I wish to congratulate the Chancellor of this University, Shri Naveen Jindal, for ensuring that quality, research and academic excellence are the cornerstones of this institution. To the faculty members of this University, you are the main forces behind the professional success and moral integrity of these graduating students. Congratulations to the professors for changing the lives of these graduating students.

Let me conclude by congratulating once again the graduating students. Remember that India and the world are waiting for you to make a valuable contribution to public well-being. No matter which profession you take up after graduating, always keep high moral values as your guiding principle.

All the very best to you my young friends!

Jai Hind!”