The Vice President of India, Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu has said that family system is the best medicine to protect youngsters from slipping into depression. He was addressing the Platinum Jubilee Celebrations of Ethiraj College for Women, in Chennai today. The Minister for Fisheries and Personnel and Administrative Reforms, Tamil Nadu, Shri D. Jayakumar and other dignitaries were present on the occasion.
The Vice President said that there is no better antidote to patriarchy, fundamentalism, extremism and dogmatism than women’s education. He stressed on the need to educate the girl child to empower the society. If India has to become a country that lives by the Constitutional values that it espouses, and then it must put girl’s education at the centre of its development efforts, he added.
Expressing concern over the disturbing incidents of discrimination gender inequality against women, the Vice President called for strict action against such societal evils.
The Vice President said that women empowerment is key to national development and added that India is taking major steps to involve women in India’s development journey. He appreciated the contribution of women in national development and said that Indian women have demonstrated excellence in various fields. Be it politics, industry, sports, technology, service or scholarship they established that women, given a chance, are capable of scaling great heights, he added.
The Vice President said that education is not only an entry point to economic opportunities but also has positive ripple effects on all other aspects of social development.
Talking about the increasing number of depression cases among the youth, the Vice President opined that young people were becoming increasingly aloof from the people around them and absence of experienced advice was pushing youngsters into severe depression. He asked the youngsters to have a regular interaction with elders in the family. Lack interaction at home is depriving them of guidance and support, he said.
The Vice President said that excessive use of Internet and Gadgets is disturbing the body clock of young children and depriving them of the required sleep. He asked students and youngsters to follow a strict routine and dedicate time for physical exercise.
The Vice President said that Ethiraj College for Women made a modest beginning with 96 girls in 1948 has today grown to become Chennai’s largest womens’ college with around 8000 students. The college has produced luminaries in the field of entertainment, science and technology and others, he added.
Following is the text of Vice President’s address:
I am happy to be with all of you today as you celebrate the Platinum Jubilee of one of the nation’s premier women’s institutions. I am indeed pleased that Ethiraj College for Women which made a modest beginning with 96 girls in 1948 has today grown to become Chennai’s largest women’s college with around 8000 students.
The glory of Ethiraj College cannot be chronicled without mentioning its visionary Founder Thiru. V. L. Ethiraj, an eminent lawyer who donated his life’s earnings – Rs.10 lakhs, a mammoth sum in the 1940s – and the title deeds to two of his bungalows, for the cause of quality education for women.
Thiru Ethiraj was tutored by Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, the first Vice President of the Republic of India. A magnanimous and a successful barrister, he graduated in Legal Studies from the University of Dublin and upon his return to India, joined the Madras Bar. Within a short period, he built up a lucrative practice, thanks to his knowledge and expertise. He was the first Indian to be appointed as the Crown Prosecutor by the British Government.
Even at the zenith of success, the young barrister’s conscience troubled him. He was extremely concerned about the plight of Indian women, who he felt were “depressed, oppressed, and suppressed”. Armed with the generosity of his spirit and a resolute will power, he set out on a crusade to improve their lot. In 1944,as a result of his tireless efforts, the Ethiraj College for Women was born.
I am sure Thiru. Ethiraj would be delighted to see that the institution he founded has grown by leaps and bounds over the last 7 decades and, in the course of its growth, has successfully empowered thousands of proud young women.
When women thrive, the whole country benefits. If India has to be transformed, and become a country that lives by the Constitutional values of equality and fraternity that it espouses, then if must prioritise education and within education, if must put girls education at the centre of its development efforts. There is no better antidote to patriarchy, fundamentalism, extremism and dogmatism.
Thiru. V.L. Ethiraj often said, “Education is a great leveller in the society”. We believe in an inclusive society where we respect and celebrate diversity, where we incorporate various voices and viewpoints. Education is the key instrument for achieving this inclusive society. As a popular proverb goes ‘If you educate a man, you educate an individual, but if you educate a woman, you educate a nation’.
You belong to a College that has always been known to focus not only on learning from textbooks but also on the all-round development of the students. It is no wonder then, that the alumni of Ethiraj College for Women have excelled in various fields and have done our country proud. To recall a few, Padma Bhushan Padma Subrahmanyan & Padma Bhushan Sudha Raghunathan in Arts, Dipika Pallikal & Joshna Chinappa in Sports, and most recently Dhivya Suryadevara who was appointed the first woman CFO of the iconic General Motors.
Indian women have demonstrated excellence in various fields. Be it politics, industry, sports, technology, service or scholarship. Gita Gopinath, Chief Economist in IMF, Arundhati Bhattacharya who headed State Bank of India, Mary Kom, Saina Nehwal, sport stars, Sunitha Williams, Tessy Thomas in the field of space exploration, Major Mithali Madhumitha in defence, have all established that women, given a chance, are capable of scaling great heights. Recently, Indian army has opened up combat roles for women. It is abundantly clear that our country is taking major steps to involve women in India’s development journey.
We must get over the societal mind set that views women as inferior to men. It is against our own ancient philosophical moorings.
Ours is a nation that declared millions of years ago, “Yatra Naaryastu poojyante, Ramante tatra Devataa” (Where women are respected, gods live there and feel happy to be at that place).
Ours is a country that has from the Vedic times celebrated learning irrespective of the gender of the person. Names women of scholars Gargi and Maitreyi stand out as shining examples of women achievers in the glorious heritage we have inherited. Our mythology has a large number of powerful goddesses who killed dreadful demons. For example, we worship Durga and Saraswati during the Dasara festival and Laxmi during Deepawali. Most of the rivers in our country have feminine names. Our traditional world view has always held that women are equal to men in all respects. We must revive that spirit once again.
As Subramanya Bharathi, one of the greatest sons of our our country and a son of this sacred Tamil land, had said, “World will prosper in knowledge and intellect if both men and women are deemed equal”.
The women of India are central to our nation’s development. Institutions like Ethiraj College are playing a significant role in ensuring that young women have access to quality education. Education is not only an entry point to economic opportunities but also has positive ripple effects on all other aspects of social development. This is why the Government of India has focused on girls’ education through its ‘Beti Bachao Beti Padhao’ programme.
Today, the educated Indian woman is extremely skilful and self-sufficient. She juggles a number of responsibilities with remarkable ease and lives her life on her own terms. There is not one sphere of activity that women have not made a place for themselves in. India has the world’s largest number of professionally qualified women. Women in India have started recognising their true potential. They have excelled in diverse fields ranging from medicine to engineering, from civil services to mountaineering, from research and development to flying fighter aircrafts. There is no arena which remains unconquered by Indian women. Professions which were earlier considered to be the forte of men are now no longer their sole preserve and women frequently outperform their male counterparts with ease and élan.
There are, however, some disturbing trends and women are subjected in some parts of our country to discrimination and harassment. It is a societal evil that needs to be eradicated with concerted action. We have to usher in a new India where gender equality becomes the norm, where we successfully unleash the full potential of the half a billion strong women force.
For India to become a global superpower, the Indian woman needs to be empowered. Institutions like Ethiraj College for Women have a pivotal role to play in equipping women to be the change leaders of tomorrow.
I am glad you are moving steadily in that direction.
India is at the cusp of a demographic dividend. 65% of its population is below 35 years. This is an unprecedented opportunity to fast track development.
Education does not, by itself make a person employable. Educational institutions must take it upon themselves to impart essential skills to students, including crucial life skills required for the knowledge driven, interconnected world of the 21st century. India has embarked on a mission to skill its vast youth population so that the huge opportunity that the demographic dividend offers is realised most effectively.
Schools and colleges must ensure that the children and youth of our country acquire the knowledge and skills that will enable them to become active contributors to building a new India and a new world.
They must ensure that the foundations are strong. What we need is the ability to observe and absorb, to assimilate and articulate, to ask questions and seek answers, to decipher and discover. The students must have the zeal to discover new fields of knowledge. However, they should always have the ‘ethical compass’ handy all the time to make wise decisions.
I am glad to learn that as a recognition of the quality of education it imparts, Ethiraj College for Women was conferred the prestigious “College with Potential for Excellence” status by UGC. In pursuit of excellence in research and in learning exchange activities, the college has signed MoUs with national and international research Institutions and multi-skill universities.
I am happy to learn that Ethiraj college has been growing from strength to strength and has been consistently ranked among the top women’s colleges in India in various surveys including the NIRF ranking list by the MHRD and has won numerous awards and accolades.
The future belongs to those who dare to dream and have the competence to create a new tomorrow. I hope that Ethiraj College provides the springboard for all to chase their dreams and realise them.
I congratulate each and everyone of you who have played a part in the 70 year journey of this great institution and I am sure that the College will nurture and mould many more successful students. I hope many of them will take up powerful and socially relevant roles and be in the vanguard of India’s journey towards a new era of peace, prosperity and inclusive and sustainable development.