Address by Governor at the Centennial Foundation Day Programme of the SNDT Women’s University, Mumbai
Address by Shri CH. Vidyasagar Rao, Governor of Maharashtra at the Centennial Foundation Day Programme of the SNDT Women’s University at Patkar Hall, Marine Lines, Mumbai at 1730 hrs on Tuesday, 5 July 2016
Shri Devendra Fadnavis, Hon’ble Chief Minister, Shri Vinod Tawde, Hon’ble Minister for Education, Prof. Shashikala Wanjari, Vice Chancellor of SNDT Women’s University, Dr S. P. Badgujar, Registrar, Deans, Heads of Departments, teachers, staff, students, ladies and gentlemen…
At the outset I extend my warm felicitations and congratulations to each one of you, on the happiest occasion of the Centennial Foundation Day of the SNDT Women’s University.
It was on this date in the year 1916, that Bharat Ratna Maharashi Karve had planted the sapling of this grand institution. Maharshi Karve was a man of clear vision who thought of empowering women, the child widows and the oppressed, at a time when the nation was still under foreign domination and society was steeped in superstition and orthodoxy. When the University was established, the female literacy rate in India was only 1.81 per cent. In the year 2011 it was 65.49 percent. This transformation would not have been possible, but for the work done by men of vision like Maharshi Karve and others. Without fear of contradiction, I will say, Maharshi Karve was one of the builders of Modern India.
Maharshi Karve’s vision was backed by Sir Vithaldas Thackersey, a philanthropist and industrialist. Centenary is also an occasion to salute the late Shri Thackersey and express gratefulness to successive Vice Chancellors, officials, administrators, teachers, staff and others who gave the university its name and fame.
I am pleased to note that beginning with only four girl students, the SNDT Women’s University has grown like a large banyan tree. I understand that the University has on its roll 50,000 students, 39 university departments, 132 institutions and 174 affiliated colleges, 250 programmes and 15 streams.
During the last 100 years of its meaningful existence, the University has rendered matchless service to society, to women, to families and to the cause of nation building.
The alumni of this institution, spread all over the world, have contributed to the progress and development of the nation and of society in various areas.
The Foundation Day of the University, is therefore, an event of great importance, not only for Mumbai or Maharashtra, but also for the entire country.
I also congratulate Dr Shashikala Wanjari who has assumed charge as Vice Chancellor of the University in its 100th year.
Sisters and brothers,
As Governor and Chancellor of the University, I have great expectations from the University. In its 100th year, I want to see SNDT University taking affirmative steps to become the first choice of the meritorious students, not just from the State but also those from India and even outside.
The Savitribai Phule University of Pune and other private institutions in Pune are attracting a large number of foreign students. This has been possible because of the student – friendly atmosphere these institutions have created; the diversity and design of programmes and most importantly, the emphasis laid by these institutions on the quality of education, teaching and dynamic curriculum. The SNDT University is relatively small compared to other universities. It must take advantage of its strength and introduce dynamic courses and adopt innovative approaches to teaching.
Universities and Colleges across the country are suffering from acute shortage of good teachers. This shortage of teachers is adversely impacting the quality of education and instructions. I do feel that the SNDT University should accept the challenge of producing the best teachers for Schools, Colleges and universities across the country.
For this purpose, the University must consider synchronizing and attuning the syllabus of all subjects with those of NET and SET examinations.
The Centenary year offers an excellent opportunity for all of us to reflect on the achievements of the University and more importantly to chalk out the future course of action for the next 25 years or 50 years.
I will call upon the University to constitute a Committee of experts representing experts from different walks of life, and prepare a Perspective Plan of the University for the year 2030. Unless the University sets specific goals for itself, the journey to the future will not be exciting.
While making its own Perspective Plan, the University must think of, and factor in, women who are presently outside the higher education system. This group should include housewives, women in the unorganized sector, farming and other areas. We must see how we can make a positive change in the lives of these women through skill enhancement and education.
India’s first Prime Minister Pt Jawaharlal Nehru was keen that women play their part as equal citizens of the nation.
Pt Nehru had said, and I quote:
“Women of India must play an adequate role in the building of the country. Without them the country cannot make rapid progress. The state of progress of the country can be known by the condition of its women because they are the makers of the people of the country”. (unquote)
Today, women have broken the proverbial glass-ceiling in many areas. The country has produced several accomplished women-leaders in areas such as politics, science, medicine, business, sports and so on.
We find that some of the largest public and private sector banks in our country are today headed by women. Women are also occupying important positions in Corporate and other sectors and according to studies, more women will be holding board positions by 2020.
However, more needs to be done to increase the share of women in administration, both in government and in the private sector. I firmly believe that more women in government and in the private sector will bring greater transparency in governance and reduce corruption.
As Chancellor of Universities, I often attend Convocation Ceremonies of universities in the State and give away prizes and medals. In at least 8 out of 10 cases, the Gold Medallists are girl students !! However, when it comes to the job market, women are generally missing. The University must think of starting courses for young women to prepare them for various competitive examinations like those conducted by banks, insurance, railways, UPSC and MPSC. I am sure this will help increase the percentage of women in administration.
A survey conducted by an American think tank covering 22000 publicly-traded companies in over 91 countries, showed that companies employing 30 percent and more female executives earn more profits. So it makes sound economic sense, to employ more women and to give them their rightful place on the Governing Boards.
The Hon’ble Prime Minister has launched the Stand Up India, Start Up India Programme to promote enterprise. The Pradhan Mantri MUDRA Yojana has so far offered loans worth Rupees one lakh crore to small entrepreneurs. I will call upon the University to develop ambition and leadership quality in every student so that they aspire to become entrepreneurs. The University must also organize expert talks to inform students about the various programmes, policies and initiatives of the government offering assistance to women. I want to see the SNDT Women’s University producing enterpreneurs and thought-leaders in all disciplines.
Before I conclude, I would like to tell the Vice Chancellor that I wish to see the University featuring among the top 200 universities in the world. For this purpose the University must forge smart alliances with other universities, organize teacher-exchange programmes and invite top leaders from various streams and industries to motivate and inspire students.
The University must also open various professional colleges, especially Nursing, Medicine, Engineering, Architecture, Art, Fine Art and so on. The University must also promote research across all streams. The University must consider opening polytechnics offering professional programmes in at least a few districts. The University must also think of developing at least 10 of its Colleges into Centres of National Excellence.
I would also call upon the Vice Chancellor to devise an objective system to assess the performance of teachers. We must encourage teachers to go for knowledge updation, pursue research and attend refresher programmes. We must also reward teachers adopting innovative methods of engaging students and promoting innovation.
A cell must also be constituted to interact with industry and chambers of commerce. The University must help its graduates to find apprenticeship position in various industries and organizations.
This is a University of the Saraswatis where the students are Saraswatis and so are teachers. We have to continue our efforts to create a safe and enabling atmosphere in the University so that all the students and teachers can realize their fullest potential.
I congratulate the University on the occasion of the Concluding function of the Centenary Year of the University and wish the institution Godspeed in its future endeavours.
Thank you !
Jai Hind ! Jai Maharashtra !!