Vice Prez Naidu exhorts students to use education for national development

The gymnasium hall of Panjab University (PU), Chandigarh, wore an absolute yellow-orange look on Friday as it welcomed the Vice President of India, M Venkaiah Naidu, the chief guest for PU’s 69th convocation ceremony on Friday morning.

Vice president of India M Venkaiah Naidu handing over the degree to one of the students of Panjab University. (Express photo by Kamleshwar Singh)

Naidu was accompanied by the Governor of Punjab, Banwarilal Purohit, Governor of Haryana, Bandaru Dattatraya, Union Minister, Som Parkash, Punjab CM, Bhagwant Singh Mann, Haryana Chief Minister, Manohar Lal Khattar, as he graced Friday’s convocation event.

On Friday, Naidu, who is also the Chancellor of PU, greeted the audience with a loud, ‘Sat Sri Akaal’ to a rousing reception, before going up to say in Punjabi, “Main aaj taude saarain wich aake bahut khush haan. Saarain nu merian shubhkamnain (I am very happy to be here among you all and give my best to everyone here).

He congratulated the graduating students on reaching a milestone of great significance in their lives and careers. “This graduation ceremony should be a stepping stone for the students to continue learning and the faculty to improve the educational process. Universities, like yours, must be at the forefront of the knowledge revolution, through path-breaking innovations and cutting-edge research. At the same time, there should be closer interaction between universities and the government so that more robust policies can be formulated.

Remember that the knowledge you have acquired has the power to change the world,” he said.

Education of good quality, added Naidu, must become accessible to all, be affordable, and should lead to a positive transformation in an individual’s outlook, social cohesion, and inclusive national development. “Education should transform the way we look at the planet we live in and how we interact with the people who live with us on it. This university is in a sacred land where Guru Nanak and the other Gurus showed that our lives should be illuminated by the five virtues, and I hope these principles will continue to inspire us to be better human beings.”

On the occasion, the Vice President also conferred honoris causa on Principal Scientific Advisor, Professor Ajay Kumar Sood, and pioneers of indigenous vaccine manufacturing, Dr Krishna Ella and Suchitra Ella, who could not attend the event. In addition, Panjab University Ratna Awards were presented to Professor JS Rajput in education, Acharya Kotecha in Indian medicine, Rani Rampal in sports, Professor Jagbir Singh in literature, Onkar Singh Pahwa in industry, and Khandu Wangchuk Bhutia in the fine arts category.

Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann during the Panjab University convocation. (Express photo by Kamleshwar Singh)

Naidu appreciated PU for honoring talent from across India and hoped that other universities would also follow this example. “As our country celebrates Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav, I would like to underscore that education has played a major role in national development and will continue to do so in the future also. It is truly the most powerful catalyst that can change the pace and quality of a country’s development. I am happy to preside over this university — a university with a glorious past, an impressive present, and a bright future. It is a university that has earned itself a pride of place in the higher education landscape of the country. The University has shaped the lives of many young men and women who have gone on to become leaders in various fields and have done the country proud,” said Naidu.

Continuing his address, Naidu said that we should move away from mediocrity and not be satisfied with what we have achieved and work towards attaining the rank in top ten universities globally. “The new India of our dreams will be built on dreams and new competencies. It will be built on the knowledge, skills, and attitudes we impart in our classrooms and the innovation we foster in our workshops and laboratories,” he said. The Vice President asked the students to use their knowledge to change the world and to work proactively to address the many challenges we face as a nation. “Aim high, devote yourself to building a bright future for yourself and for the nation at large.

Success and fulfillment will then follow,” he told students. Universities, he added, should focus on implementable patents under intellectual property rights to give a fillip to the economy and industry.

Praising the National Education Policy-2020 for ‘Indianizing’ the Indian education, Naidu stressed on the need to provide primary education in their mother tongue. Terming peace a prerequisite for progress, Naidu called upon all universities to see that peace is maintained on campuses and focus their attention on bringing academic excellence.

Earlier in the day, Professor Raj Kumar, Vice-Chancellor, PU, ​​had declared the convocation open and welcomed and facilitated the dignitaries, recipients of honorary degrees, Panjab University Ratna Awards, members of the Senate, faculty, and students.

“Today is an important day as Panjab University is organising its annual convocation after a gap of three years. Today, we are going to award more than 1100 PhD degrees. PU has a long tradition of nurturing excellence in all spheres of education and preparing the best minds for the service of the country. The university is destined to play a significant role as a key strategic player in fulfilling the dream of ‘shikshit bharat, sashakt bharat.’ With a strong research background and pioneering efforts, the university has initiated setting up of an research and development cell to make the campus space for exploratory and translational research, technology development, and product commercialization in order to enable scientific innovation for society,” said Prof Kumar, who also highlighted some of the recent accolades that PU had received, including the prestigious Maulana Abul Kalam Azad (MAKA) trophy.

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