Address by Governor at the Presentation of the ‘Fergusson Gaurav’ and ‘Fergusson Abhiman’ Awards instituted by ‘The Fergussonians’ at K Pune
Address by Shri CH. Vidyasagar Rao, Governor of Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu at the Presentation of the ‘Fergusson Gaurav’ and ‘Fergusson Abhiman’ Awards instituted by ‘The Fergussonians’ (Alumni Association of the Fergusson College) on the occasion of the 71st Anniversary of the Fergussonians at K Firodiya Auditorium, Near DES Law College, Fergusson College Campus, Pune at 1045 hrs on Monday, 29th May 2017
Adv. Vijay Savant, Chairman, The Fergussonians, Shri Y D Mehendale, President, Air Marshal Bhushan Gokhale, Vice President, Shri T B Bahirat, Vice President, Shri Yashwant Mohod, Secretary, Principal and past Principals of Fergusson College, all Satkar Murthis – Dr Madhav Godbole, former Union Home Secretary, Smt Lila Poonawala, noted business leader, Dr Suresh Patankar, eminent Urologist, Shri Malhotra, father of Shahid Lt Rishi Malhotra, all distinguished alumni of the Fergusson College and their family members, invitees, ladies and gentlemen,
At the outset I extend my heartiest congratulations to the Alumni Association of the Fergusson College, ‘Fergussonians’, as it celebrates its 71st anniversary and Foundation Day. To form an Association is easy; to nurture and sustain it for 71 long years is an incredible achievement. That, the alumni of the Fergusson College have done it, is a tribute to their commitment and love for their Alma Mater.
I was pleased to present the Fergusson Gaurav and Fergusson Abhiman Awards today.
I congratulate the recipient of ‘Fergusson Gaurav’ Dr Madhav Godbole who has served with distinction as Union Secretary in various ministries in Government of India, including the Home Ministry. Dr Godbole has enriched the public discourse on developmental issues with his insightful writings and studious interventions through television debates for the last two decades.
I am extremely happy that top business leader and philanthropist Smt Lila Poonawala is being presented the ‘Fergusson Abhiman’ Award today. I congratulate Smt Poonawala for her outstanding leadership, which I am sure will inspire young women entrepreneurs from our country.
I also congratulate another ‘Fergusson Abhiman’ awardee, Dr Suresh Patankar, eminent Urologist, whose work as surgeon and academician has been widely acclaimed.
I was pleased to note that vocalist Mahesh Kale is also a Fergussonian. I convey my felicitations to him on being conferred the ‘Fergusson Abhiman’ Award.
It was very thoughtful of the Alumni Association of the Fergusson College to have decided to present the special ‘Fergusson Abhiman’ award to Shahid Lt Rishi Malhotra.
At the age of 23, Second Lieutenant Rishi Malhotra, who was an alumnus of this College, laid down his life while fighting the terrorists in the State of Jammu & Kashmir in the year 1993.
Shahid Lt. Rishi Malhotra is not just ‘Fergusson Abhiman’, he is ‘Maharashtra Abhiman’ and ‘Bharat Abhiman’.
I salute him for his ultimate sacrifice to the nation and assure his parents that Maharashtra will never forget the sacrifices of their brave son.
I am happy that we are also felicitating two present students of the Fergusson College for their exceptional achievements at the national level. I congratulate them on behalf of this entire gathering.
Ladies and gentlemen,
If the Savitribai Phule Pune University is pride of Maharashtra, the Fergusson College is truly the pride of Pune. The University of Pune was established in the year 1948, but the Fergusson College was established in the year 1885.
In the course of its proud journey of more than 130 years, the College has produced numerous students who later became outstanding figures in public life.
We are proud that among its alumni are two former Prime Ministers – P V Narasimha Rao and V P Singh, – several Ministers, Parliamentarians, Legislators, eminent scholars, educationists, men and women of arts and culture, diplomats, administrators, lawyers, doctors, engineers, scientists, sportspersons and so on. Many of them have won international acclaim and we are justly proud of them.
There are many things special about the Fergusson College. This is perhaps the only institution which can boast of such eminent stalwarts as founders, Principals or students such as Lokmanya Tilak, Gopal Ganesh Agarkar, R G Bhandarkar, M G Ranade and so on.
Fergusson College is known for its close association with Indian politics. Its founders were amongst the pioneers of the Indian National Congress as well as the Indian Socialist Movement. Post independence, the College and particularly its distinguished alumni have provided thought leadership to society, to the State and the Nation.
Ladies and gentlemen,
The Fergusson College has always been the cradle of patriotism and liberal progressive thinking. This tradition needs to be preserved and further strengthened.
It is imperative that our universities and institutions of higher learning safeguard and nurture the culture of tolerance, openness and freedom of speech and debate.
We should respect diversity of thoughts and viewpoints.
Dogmatism, violence and coercion have no place on our campuses.
The Fergusson College and the Savitribai Phule Pune University should show leadership to other Indian universities and Colleges in this regard.
I was happy to know that in the latest National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF) announced by the Ministry of Human Resource Development, the Savitribai Phule Pune University was ranked 18th in the Overall ranking. I was particularly pleased to note that the Fergusson College was ranked 35th among the top 100 Colleges announced by the Ministry.
While this is certainly a matter of great satisfaction, I would urge the leadership, faculty, students and alumni of the University and the Fergusson College to aim at earning a place among the Top 5 slots in the respective categories.
Gatherings of alumni are always cherished occasions for reunions of friends and classmates.
Therefore, alumni reunions provide the context and the pretext to meet.
Alumni association with the alma mater is one of the strongest and most enduring emotional relationships in our lives.
Wherever in the world, our lives may take us, we always fondly remember the college or the university we studied in, the teachers who taught us, the Canteens we sipped Coffees and Chai, the theatre halls where we performed or watched our friends perform.
It is rightly said that, after our parents, the most transformative impact on our lives is made by the teachers who taught us.
When we think of all the great teachers who taught us, our hearts are filled with gratitude.
Most of the teachers from the older generation may no longer be there. But they continue to live on, in our hearts.
Hence, our first duty is to remember, and pay tribute to, all the teachers who shaped our lives in our college and university years.
It is also our duty to respectfully pay tribute to the institutions where we studied.
Gratitude is a fine, humanising emotion. It refines our character.
Gratitude towards one’s teachers and one’s alma mater is an even greater virtue.
Today, as you have gathered here to celebrate the anniversary of The Fergussonians, I would like to propose a related concept – the concept of ‘Gurukul Dakshina’ like Guru Dakshina.
The colleges and the university you have studied in, are like Gurukul in the modern sense of the term.
Therefore, all the alumni should give something back to this Gurukul which has given you so much.
Alumni donations are a highly developed tradition all over the world, especially in American universities.
In 2015, the total endowments of the colleges and universities in USA stood at a staggering $ 37 billion or Rs 240,000 crore!
Most of these endowments are donations by alumni.
Harvard University tops the list with an endowment of $36.5 billion.
Stanford University has an endowment of $22 billion, an amount equal to that of Princeton University, where the great Albert Einstein taught.
The University of Texas has an endowment of $24 billion, whereas the figure for Yale University is $25.5 billion.
These large endowments help American universities not only to attract best teachers from around the world, but also give scholarships to thousands of bright and needy students from many countries, including India.
America’s leadership in higher education and research is one of the main sources of its soft power. And this is largely because of the commitment of its alumni.
Alumni support their alma mater not only in terms of monetary donations. They also are actively involved, as volunteers, in university life even after they have moved beyond the hallowed halls of their colleges or universities.
They provide current students with mentorship, connections in industry, internships and consultation.
All this shows that the custom of ‘Gurukul Dakshina’ is far more widely practised in America than in India.
This trend of alumni donating to their alma maters is also slowly catching up in India, with the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) taking the lead.
I would like to make a special mention of the excellent model developed by IIT Bombay.
The 35,000-plus members of the IIT Bombay Alumni Association have so far donated over Rs 300 crore to their institute.
I am quite sure, the Fergussonians must have already thought of creating such corpus fund. I wish and hope that the fund will be utilized to support poor and deserving students, to help upgrade the infrastructure, to support Chairs, to invite Visiting Faculty and to support important programmes of the College.
I would like to reiterate that institutions like the Deccan Education Society must opt for full academic, administrative and financial autonomy. It must expand and become a pan-Indian institution. Key departments should be developed as Centres of Excellence, and finally the management should involve alumni in the development of its institutions.
In conclusion, I congratulate the alumni of this great institution. I congratulate the Fergusson Gaurav and Fergusson Abhiman Awardees once again, and wish you all success in your future endeavours.
I convey my appreciation to all the office bearers of the Fergussonians for their excellent work.
Jai Hind! Jai Maharashtra !!