Ahmedabad (PTI): Invoking Mahatma Gandhi, President Pranab Mukherjee today said Swachh Bharat implies a clean mind along with a clean environment and asserted that educating in peace and harmony is the key to contain and reorient disruptive forces in society.
Addressing 62nd convocation of Gujarat Vidyapith, he also cited numerous challenges faced by country’s higher education sector and emphasised on increasing access and making education affordable.
“Gandhiji in life and in death struggled for communal harmony.
“Educating in peace and harmony is the key to contain and reorient the disruptive forces in society,” the President said as he again conveyed his sentiments on the issue amid the ongoing debate on alleged intolerance.
Referring to the motto of Gujarat Vidyapith ‘Sa Vidya Ya Vimuktaye’ (education that liberates), he said the institute should continue to demonstrate that it is by educating the heart and mind of the youth that social rejuvenation on the path of non-violence is possible.
“Swachh Bharat, according to Bapu, implied a clean mind, clean body and clean environment.
“Every citizen has a duty to rededicate themselves to create a clean external and internal environment of self and society to make ‘Swachh Bharat’ possible. I am certain you will make ideal citizens who will endeavour to keep our country Swachh and make it Samarth,” Mukherjee said.
The President’s reference to Swachh Bharat came as the Centre has launched Swachh Bharat campaign for promoting cleanliness inspired by the Mahatma.
Recitation of prayers from various religions marked the beginning of the ceremony in which the President gave away degrees and awards to meritorious events.
Speaking about the higher education sector in India, he noted that there is need for increasing access and making education affordable besides ensuring quality and pursue excellence.
“These are not contradictory objectives but complementary goals. Quality consciousness must be at the back of every initiative in our higher academic institutions.
“Many meritorious students leave the shores of our country and study abroad due to lack of institutes in India conforming to high standards of education. Not many international students come to India for higher studies either,” Mukherjee said.
Student arrivals from US, Germany, France, South Korea, Australia, China and Singapore have dipped seriously — 73 per cent in 2014, he said citing a report.
“We must do all at our end to reverse this trend and make India emerge as a quality and affordable education destination for students outside,” the President said and referred to ancient universities like Takshila and Nalanda while calling for renewed efforts to gain India’s leadership role in higher education sector.
The developmental challenges faced by our country call for an inspired response from the higher education system.
Quality and relevant research can help tide over our socio-economic problems, he said.
“To build a research eco-system, we need to adopt a multi-disciplinary approach, promote research at under-graduate level and develop scientific temper in the students,” Mukherjee said.
“India is home to a large population of the young. Demographic dividend can occur only if greater number of competent and skilled professionals is produced by our higher educational and technical institutions.
“This calls for skill development initiatives on a massive scale,” the President said.
Mukherjee also remembered former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, who according to the President, worked for the upliftment of poorest of poor, a path shown by Gandhiji.
“In all our actions, we must keep in mind the last person. The last person in India is often a woman, a Dalit or an Adivasi. We must constantly ask ourselves, do our actions have meaning for them ? Pandit Nehru always spoke about this obligation on us to uplift the poorest of poor,” Mukherjee said.
Before his speech, Mukherjee inaugurated the newly built ‘Archives and Research Centre’ inside the Ashram premises, where manuscripts of more than 1.35 lakh original writings of Gandhiji have been kept. He was accompanied by Gujarat Chief Minister Anandiben Patel and Governor O P Kohli.
Mukherjee also visited ‘Hriday Kunj’, a place inside the Ashram where Gandhiji lived during freedom struggle.
In the visitor’s diary of Hriday Kunj, he wrote, “Each visit to this hallowed place gives me a renewed hope and determination to realise Gandhiji’s dreams of an Indian free from want and oppression”.