The Pondicherry University was established in 1985. While going through the profile of this University and the Report of the Vice-Chancellor, I could not help but admire the remarkable way in which this seat of higher learning has developed over the years. In three campuses, fifteen schools, thirty seven departments and ten centres, over four hundred faculty members today teach over 6,100 students, courses in 175 post-graduate and research disciplines. It also has 87 affiliated colleges that enroll over forty five thousand students. It has truly emerged as an educational hub in the Southern region. The state-of-the-art facilities in the University have paved the way for a student-friendly and result-oriented academic environment. This University has pursued an education-led development in the region. I am happy to note that it has adopted villages and initiated interactive programmes with local communities and bodies.
Convocation is a red-letter day in the academic calendar of a University. It marks the culmination of a phase of learning. I congratulate all the students who have received their degrees and diplomas today. Graduation symbolizes the beginning of a new journey - where knowledge and skills acquired will be put to test. There will be times when you will find success easily and times when you will face adversity. The trying moments will test your true mettle. Your hard work, discipline, commitment and determination will help you navigate through the rough terrains. Prepare well for meeting the life's challenges. Do not leave any chance for regret.
The role of a university in the life of a student has been eloquently described by Dr. Rajendra Prasad. I quote: "A university is or should be an artist's studio where not clay or stone or wood has to be moulded or cut or chiseled into shape, but where human beings with different temperaments, varying capacities, changing moods, and limitless variety of what may be called hereditary tendencies or sanskaras have to be put not only into beautiful shape, but also rendered into useful instruments that can serve others, and what is more, serve themselves well. The product has to be not only accomplished gentlemen, but also truly useful and serviceable members of society, and loyal, helpful and sacrificing citizens of a country" (unquote). As students, you have had the benefit of a progressive education system. As you now enter a stage where you can give back to the society, make your contribution and make it count. India is an aspiring nation. We can reach the zenith but it requires the sacrifices of all. You are all capable and intelligent minds. It is your duty to take our country forward. Do all that is necessary to realize our country's goal.
The central importance of higher education in a country's development is well recognized. If we are to grow as a nation, the education system has to figure prominently in the template of progress. There is a dearth of quality academic institutions to prepare our next generation. Indian universities are not counted amongst the top-ranked universities in the world. If we peek into our past, we find our ancient education system dominating the world for about eighteen hundred years beginning Sixth Century BC. Let me remind you that Takshashila, Nalanda, Vikramashila, Valabhi, Somapura and Odantapuri were the seats of world class universities. Let us together bring the changes required to make our present higher education system shine brightly once again.
Science and Technology have greatly influenced the course of human civilization. It holds the key to future economic growth and social development. Our universities have to create an environment supportive of innovation. Teaching and research are the two eyes of a University. While high standards in teaching have to be achieved, high quality research that will push knowledge frontiers and evolve technologies for development has to be promoted. The quality of our research has to be comparable with the best in the world. Our researchers have to cooperate with one another to find solutions to critical problems. New products have to be designed that are useful to the common man. Our innovations have to create livelihood and improve the quality of life in rural areas. Local technological needs have to be addressed by our universities by creating research and development centres for such technologies in their campuses. Research campuses also have to be set up in rural areas to act as fountain heads for innovation and technology-led growth in these regions.