Address by Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu, Honourable Vice President of India at the Golden Jubilee Celebrations of Maitreyi College, in New Delhi on February 27, 2018.

New Delhi | February 27, 2018

"At the outset, I would like to thank Maitreyi family for inviting me to inaugurate the Golden Jubilee Celebrations of this institution, a constituent College of the University of Delhi, founded in 1967 by Delhi Administration.

Over the past several years, I have regularly interacted with students from various institutions in different parts of the country, and to be honest there is no greater pleasure for me than to speak to ebullient young minds, sparkling with new ideas and enthusiasm and share my thoughts with them.

Schools and colleges play a transformational role in shaping young minds, molding the character and imparting the right value-based education. Undoubtedly, the future of the country is dependent on the strong foundations laid by literacy and education. The Father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi had quite rightly observed :“An education which does not teach us to discriminate between good and bad, to assimilate the one and eschew the other, is a misnomer”.

Apart from making students imbibe strong ethical and moral values, education should help to broaden the vision, sharpen the intellect, inculcate analytical skills, improve creativity, think innovatively and develop an inclusive outlook. Education, said Nelson Mandela, is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.

Dear students, India is in a uniquely advantageous position because of its predominantly young population. Education is the single most important instrument to convert the vast and talented human resources into a productive workforce and script India’s growth story.

With women constituting almost half of the country’s population, their empowerment is critical for accelerating development of the country. Education is the best way to empower women. As had often been said: ‘If you educate a man, you educate an individual, but if you educate a woman, you educate an entire family’.

Empowering women through education will have a multiplier effect. An educated woman will tend to have healthier children and provide them with better education. An educated and employed woman will not only be contributing to her household income but to the national economy as well.

I am glad that institutions like Maitreyi are playing a vital role in empowering women through education. Even 70 years after Independence, the country is facing many problems like illiteracy, gender discrimination, corruption, casteism and urban-rural divide. The need of the hour is to provide quality education to overcome these challenges.

In this era of digital age, we should ensure that nobody lags behind. We should make special efforts to increase the literacy levels, especially among women as one-third of them can’t read and write. Another concern that needs to be addressed is to reduce the gender-gap in the higher education institutions. For India to become a developed nation, we need to provide diversified educational opportunities and increase employment avenues in an equitable and inclusive manner.

I am glad that Indian women when given an opportunity have broken the glass ceiling in many fields and proved that they are no less than their male counterparts. The most recent example was that of Avani Chaturvedi, who became the first Indian woman to fly a fighter jet solo, making the entire nation applaud her feat. From sports to sending satellites into space, Indian women have time and again proved their mettle and brought glory to the country.

Our civilization and culture always respected women and held them in high esteem. However, there are some aberrations in the society. Sadly, uncivilized and barbaric acts of violence against women are occurring time and again across the country and the perpetrators of all such heinous acts have to be dealt with stringently and brought to book.

Dear students, India has a glorious tradition of education from ancient times. In fact, India was once the global knowledge-giver and called as ‘Viswaguru’. People seeking knowledge used to come from different parts of the world and study in ancient universities like Nalanda, Takshashila and Vikramshila, which were true temples of learning. Unfortunately, the situation changed following Mughal invasions and the British colonization. But the time has now come for India to once again emerge as the global knowledge hub. With the advent of globalization and IT revolution, the opportunities are plenty and youth of the country should seize them.

Globalization and localization must go hand-in-hand. Be rooted to our glorious culture, traditions and ethos while acquiring latest knowledge, skills and best practices from across the globe. Here, I would recall what Gandhiji 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 lands to be blown about my house as freely as possible. But, I refuse to be blown off my feet by any”…

Finally, I would advise you to not forget your parents, mother tongue, motherland, native place of birth and the Guru, who is instrumental in shaping your character and career. Remember Google can provide you information but cannot replace your Guru, who provides you with enlightenment.

I congratulate and commend Maitreyi College management and faculty for their unwavering and persistent dedication in educating and empowering women. The fine balance the college maintains between the academic environment and our fundamental cultural ethos needs appreciation.

The journey of the college that I happened to witness through the Documentary and the Photo Exhibition speaks volumes about the inherent capacity of the college in achieving excellence.

Dear students, Mahatma Gandhi had said,: “ Be the change you wish to see in the world”. All of you should believe in your inherent capacities to excel and scale dizzying heights as you explore unchartered territories. As former President, A.P.J. Abdul Kalam always used to say “Aim high and dream big”. Nothing is insurmountable if you display discipline, dedication, perseverance, hard work and sincerity.

I would like to once again compliment Maitreyi College for successfully completing a significant milestone and for the many achievements of its students and faculty.

Wish you all the best for a bright future ahead.