Chennai, May 5 (IANS) President Ram Nath Kovind on Saturday said Tamil Nadu people’s focus on education and the institutions like University of Madras are model for India to follow.
Delivering the 160th Convocation Address of the University of Madras, Kovind said: “The ability to pursue education as an end in itself as well as to help fill gaps in day-to-day lives of our fellow citizens is commendable. In this context the people of Tamil Nadu, and institutions such as the University of Madras, are a model for our country.”
He said at the beginning of 21st century the country turn to such institutions for direction and leadership.
Kovind terming this chapter as exciting for the country as it is looking to become a developed society and to urgently eliminate poverty while ensuring ensuring healthcare, education, housing and energy access for all.
He said India is also seeking to meet the opportunities as well as the challenges of the Fourth Industrial Revolution — of robotics, genomics and Artificial Intelligence.
Institutions like University of Madras are expected to be the navigators on this journey, he said.
According to him, the story of University of Madras mirrors the evolution of modern higher education in India and congratulated the graduating students and others associated with the institution.
He said from the middle of the 19th century, the University of Madras has been a cornerstone of our nation building project.
Kovind said: “No other University in India can make the claim that six former Presidents – six of my distinguished predecessors — are old students. S. Radhakrishnan, V.V. Giri, Neelam Sanjeeva Reddy, R. Venkataraman, K.R. Narayanan and A.P.J. Abdul Kalam — all studied here before eventually graduating to the highest office in Rashtrapati Bhavan.”
The first Indian to become Governor-General of our country, the venerable C. Rajagopalachari, or “Rajaji”, as we remember him, too was an alumnus, Kovind recalled.
Two Nobel laureates — Sir C.V. Raman and Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar — as well as two former Chief Justices of India — Justice K. Subba Rao and Justice M. Patanjali Sastri and pioneering women leaders such as Sarojini Naidu and Durgabai Deshmukh were educated at the University of Madras, Kovind said.
“However, I would especially like to mention one stalwart — the late C. Subramaniam. He was an inspiration as a politician and as a public servant. As Agriculture Minister, he was crucial to the Green Revolution and to making us self-sufficient in food,” he said.
“Even today, some of India’s best known names internationally — from chess Grandmaster Viswanathan Anand to the corporate leader Indra Nooyi — are graduates of the University of Madras,” Kovind said.
One of the hallmarks of University of Madras has been its ability to incorporate change even while keeping basic values intact, the President said, adding that this attribute has helped it stay contemporary and relevant to emerging needs of students and of society.
He said the University of Madras offers wide range of courses including traditional liberal arts, history, economics as well as bioinformatics, nano-science and actuarial science, which is crucial for the insurance sector.
“For the University, the 160th anniversary is a point at which to reflect as to where you wish to be in 40 years — when you commemorate your bi-centenary,” Kovind pointed out.
Kovind told the students that they are entering a world teeming with opportunities and they are privileged to be educated in University of Madras.
“As you leave this campus, carry your learning with humility. And in some manner – in any manner you choose — give back to society and to those who are less well-off. Let that be the true test of your education,” Kovind said.
Later, speaking at the Convocation function at the Guru Nanak College here, Kovind said twelve students of the college are University rank holders and seven of them are girls.
“An educated girl is a positive influence on both her parents’ family as well as the family she marries into and builds with her husband. And of course, she contributes enormously at the workplace and in building our economy,a he said.
“What is truly heart-warming is that the Gurdwara within the campus has a langar kitchen that provides a free meal to about 700 students daily. Tamil Nadu is the state that gave India the idea of the mid-day meal programme in schools. But a midday meal at the college level is unique,” Kovind congratulated the college authorities for this.