The Vice President of India, Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu has called upon universities and institutions to constantly reform the system and ensure that higher education institutions deliver high-quality education.
Addressing the 9th Annual Convocation of VELS Institute of Science, Technology and Advanced Studies (VISTAS), in Chennai today, Shri Naidu referred to the transient nature of technology in a fast-evolving world and advised the students to regularly update their knowledge and skills to carve a niche in their chosen fields.
Stressing that quality higher education was necessary for accelerating the progress and development of our country, the Vice President wanted institutions of higher learning to open new horizons of knowledge and research at their institutions. Observing that one must not ignore rural India in our quest to scale new heights of growth, he called for an inclusive and all around development.
Stating that technology was a great democratic leveler, Shri Naidu asked students and the youth to take care of the technological needs of our villages, agriculture and allied industry. He called for leveraging technology’s potential for rural development and bridging the rural-urban divide.
The Vice President said that the technology must provide solutions to the issues of rural life and economy. He further said that India lives in its villages and the development of our country depends on rural India. You have a promising faculty in Pharmacy your institute should think of starting programs in Agriculture, Horticulture and Veterinary Science, he added.
Shri Naidu asked the students and the youth to not to fall prey to the distractions of modern lifestyle and he advised them to shun junk food to stay healthy. While expressing concern over the prevalence of non-communicable diseases, he advised everybody to change their lifestyles and food habits.
The Vice President presented Honoris Causa Awards to the Secretary, Department of Defence R&D and Chairman, DRDO, Dr. G. Satheesh Reddy, the retired Indian track and field athlete, Smt. P.T. Usha and the Chairman of Kerry Indev Logistics Pvt. Ltd., Mr. S. Xavier Britto.
The Founder Chairman and Chancellor of VELS University, Dr. Ishari K. Ganesh, the Vice Chancellor of VELS University, Dr. P. Swaminathan, the Members of the Board of Management and Academic Council, students, and faculty of the institute and several other dignitaries were present on the occasion.
Following is the text of Vice President’s address:
“It is a pleasure to address the young graduates on this occasion of the Ninth Convocation of Vels Institute of Science, Technology and Advanced Studies (VISTAS). It gives me an opportunity to know about their aspirations, expectations and dreams for their future. And share my own with them. In the life of a student, Convocation is a mile-stone. It is the outcome of their hard work. It marks their transition from students to professionals, moving from one level of education to the next higher level.
I am told that today 68 Ph.D. scholars, 145 M.Phil. Scholars, 363 Post-Graduates and 1766 Graduates will be receiving their degrees. I congratulate all the students who are graduating from this university today and wish them every success in their future endeavours. I also compliment the members of the faculty and the parents for the success of these students. Teachers and parents shape the young minds and the destiny of our society. And we as a nation are ever grateful to the tireless teachers who mould the citizens of tomorrow with dedication and empathy.
It is an occasion when you will move out of the insulated life of the campus and explore the exiting new world of work. It is also the occasion when you will carry with yourself the high ideals you have imbibed during your stay in this esteemed institution.
As you move out of the campus, never let your inquisitiveness and quest for knowledge be extinguished. Dr. Babasaheb Ambedker said, “Cultivation of mind should be the ultimate aim of human existence.” So please continue to expand the ‘VISTAS’ of your knowledge. As the treasure house of wisdom, Thirukurral says “The deeper you dig in a sandy bed, more the water flows, the deeper you learn, the greater will be your wisdom.”
Upgrading your knowledge is ever more essential today as we live in a world where every technology is only transient. You are starting your professional career at a very exciting time. You are sitting on a rapidly moving knowledge cyberways. Entire new horizon of global opportunities opens up with a click of a mouse. You need to constantly update your knowledge and skills to create the niche for yourself in the global job market.
I am happy to note that even though yours is a young institution established in 2008, it is offering courses in sunrise areas. It is heartening that it has expanded both in basic sciences as well as applied science and technology like aviation and maritime studies, life sciences and pharmacy, Management and Law.
Being a young institution there is a vast scope of improvement and experimentation particularly on parameters like research and professional practices as well as graduation outcomes. It is essential for the institutions of higher learning to re-invent themselves, open new horizons of knowledge and research.
I appreciate the role of your institution in making higher education inclusive. Happy to note that there are many students from socially disadvantaged groups in the under graduate programme and in Post Graduate programme.
While the Constitution recognizes Right to Education a Fundamental Right and makes it incumbent upon the ‘State to provide free and compulsory education to all children of the age of six to fourteen years…’, higher education is equally essential ‘to develop the scientific temper, humanism and the spirit of inquiry and reform’ which are envisaged as the Fundamental Duties of the citizens. Therefore, quality higher education is necessary for the progress and development of our country.
Before Independence in India, access to higher education was very limited and elitist. Since independence, the growth has been very impressive. More than 850 universities and more than 40,000 Colleges are offering various programmes in India.
Though we have expanded the number of higher education institutions, the quality of higher professional education, remains a major concern. Various studies and surveys have raised concern over the learning outcomes and employability of Indian graduates. We must address these issues and constantly reform the system and ensure that the higher education institutions deliver high quality education.
India is a young nation with 65% of our population being below 35 years. Every year almost 1 crore youth join the job market. It is the demographic dividend we as a nation can ill-afford to lose.
We are in midst of 4th Industrial revolution. The technology is changing exponentially. The new age technologies like Blockchain, Artificial Intelligence and 3D Printing, are changing the ways we live and work.
You, as innovator entrepreneurs and global professionals, will be required to outpace this change. The faculty members shall have to be abreast with the latest technological developments. You must become more agile and alert to stay ahead of the knowledge curve.
With a view to making education a lifelong learning process and to expand the horizons of knowledge, the Government has launched SWAYAM online Courses. It is now providing opportunities of online higher education. I expect you to make use of these facilities.
I am happy to learn that VISTAS has entered into MoU with several foreign universities and institutions. India has traditionally been open to knowledge exchange with other parts of the world.
For ages we have been the Vishwa Guru. We have shared our knowledge with the wider world and received their scholars in our Universities like Texila and Nalanda. We believed in the anicient vedic dictum “ Aano Bhadrah Kritvo Yantu Vishwatah…” May the noble thoughts and wisdom come to us from all over the world. That is spirit we must infuse in our educational institutions today.
Often, when we discuss professional education, we tend to ignore the technological needs of our villages, of agriculture and allied industry. Technology is a great democratic leveler; we must leverage its potential for rural development and bridging the rural- urban divide. Technology must provide solutions to the issues of rural life and economy. India lives in Villages. The development of our country depends on rural India. You have a promising faculty in Pharmacy. I will suggest that VISTAS should think of starting programs in Agriculture, Horticulture and Veterinary Science.
I am also happy to learn that at VISTAS, ‘YOGA’ is made compulsory and part of curriculum.
I have also learnt that VISTAS is implementing National Service Scheme as a part of the Curriculum and that VISTAS has adopted nearby villages. I congratulate you for your commitment to these public causes.
While you must rejoice and celebrate your achievements, you must also realize that you are at the threshold of a vast unchartered territory. The knowledge and the values you have imbibed will be your leading lights. You must chalk out the future course with careful consideration. The bottom line is how you can lead a fulfilling life personally and professionally and contribute to the quality of life of people around you. As Thirukkural says:“ Learn all that is to be learnt and Live true to it”.