Governor’s convocation Address at the Annual Convocation of the Patna University
Convocation Address by Shri CH. Vidyasagar Rao, Governor of Maharashtra at the Annual Convocation of the Patna University at Srikrishna Memorial Hall, North Gandhi Maidan, Patna at 1000 hrs on 20th August 2016
Shri Ram Nath Kovind, Hon’ble Governor of Bihar and Chancellor of Universities, Prof Y C Simhadri, Vice Chancellor, Patna University, distinguished members of Senate and other authorities of the University, Members of Faculty, recipients of Ph.Ds and Masters Degrees and Diplomas, staff, students, ladies and gentlemen,
I am indeed very happy to visit the Patna University and to share your joy on this day. I congratulate every single student, researcher and teacher receiving his or her degree today.
I have great admiration for the State of Bihar and its great people.
The State of Bihar has a rich legacy of knowledge pursuit and scholarship. It was in Bodh Gaya that Bhagwan Buddha had attained enlightenment. The State played a leading role in India’s freedom movement. Even after independence it has produced a number of outstanding leaders and parliamentarians who elevated and enriched our democracy and the development discourse at the national level. The list of alumni of the University is indeed impressive.
The University of Nalanda established in the 5th Century was not only for Buddhist studies, but it also trained students in fine arts, medicine, mathematics, astronomy, politics and the art of war. The students and graduates of the Patna University are therefore inheritors of this great legacy.
During the last 99 years of its meaningful existence, the University has produced stalwarts and thought leaders in many areas. The University has also produced a large number of officers for the administrative services and civil services.
This day of the Convocation marks the completion of an important phase in your life. You all have worked hard to gain insights and inculcate values to acquire knowledge in your core subject.
On this significant day in your life, you would be experiencing a certain joy and happiness to see your perseverance, hard work and commitment being translated into achievement of your goals and objectives.
This is a day of fulfilment for the parents of many of you; who invested their hard earned money in educating you. In many cases, your parents might have sacrificed their personal happiness and pleasure to make sure that you get the best of education, that leads to a better future. This day, therefore, belongs to them in equal measure.
I also compliment the faculty members of this University and the Ph D Guides who worked hard to impart quality education to build knowledge and give a definite direction to your thinking and approach.
More than the degrees, I am sure, the knowledge and the values you imbibed here, will guide you wherever destiny will take you.
Now that, you have been presented your degrees, you are going to the actual field of work on your own, without having your mentor and teacher around.
I therefore remind you of the words of Bhagwan Buddha, which I believe will serve as guiding light for you at this juncture. Lord Buddha had given a word of advice to his disciples when he said ‘Atta Deep Bhava’ – Be Your Own Light.
You have obtaining your Masters Degrees, Diplomas and Ph Ds at a time when India stands on the cusp of Change. India has emerged as the fastest growing economy in the world. People representing diverse areas of human endeaavour have raised the flag of India not just in the Silicon Valley, but in many other countries of the World. The perception of India in the eyes of the world has changed remarkably.
This change of perception is taking place at the most appropriate juncture when India has emerged as the most youthful nation in the world. It is estimated that by 2020, the average age of an Indian will be 29 years, that is 8 years younger than the average age of a Chinese or an American.
As youths of this country, you are going to be the drivers of our economy and development. But more than that our youths will be called upon to play an important role in many countries of the world where the population will be ageing. Our success in taking advantage of the demographic dividend, depends upon how we convert our youths into productive human resources through education, skills and values.
India’s contribution to the field of innovation has been remarkable. Indian Mathematician Bhaskaracharya is considered as the greatest mathematician of medieval India. He was born in the 12th century and lived in the Sahyadri region of Maharashtra. It was he, who first accurately calculated the time taken for the Earth to orbit the Sun, as 365.2588 days. Again, Indians gave the world the concept of zero. We gave the world Yoga, we gave the world Ayurveda. At one point of time we were leaders in many spheres of life.
No wonder, Albert Einstein, one of the greatest scientists of all time, philosopher and mathematician said, “We owe a lot to Indians who taught us how to count, without which no worthwhile scientific discovery could have been made”. (unquote)
It is through innovation, research and development that we can bring positive transformation in society and address many of its problems including poverty, disease, unemployment and hunger. You, as graduates of this University, have the responsibility for ushering in societal transformation using the knowledge of science, social science, humanities, law and other subjects which you have acquired.
Mention was made that Patna University is the seventh oldest in the country. I happen to be the Chancellor of the oldest one, the University of Mumbai which was founded in the year 1857 along with the Universities of Madras and Calcutta. We have 20 Universities in Maharashtra where 3 million students are pursuing higher education. But I often wonder why our universities and colleges do not feature anywhere among the top universities in the world.
For many years, not a single Indian institution was there in the list of top 200 universities of the world. Fortunately according to the QS World University Rankings of 2015-16, we have two Indian institutes in top 200 of the world. Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore is ranked at no. 147 and Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi is ranked at no. 179. Apart from this, IIT Bombay is ranked at number 202. But a lot more needs to be done to improve the ranking of Indian institutions of higher learning and our universities at the global level. For this purpose, our universities will have to lay utmost stress on the quality of education. They will have to take the international rankings seriously and try to improve their own rankings.
To be very frank and forthright, allow me to state that the standards of education in our universities and colleges are declining. There are few islands of excellence amidst the pool of mediocre institutions.
I do not know who is to blame. It is easy to blame managements of colleges and universities. It is easy to blame teachers and students. But nobody wants to go to the root of the problem. It seems everybody is looking for short cuts to success. But dear friends, success may look glamorous, but there is no short cut to success.
Let me tell you how standards of education are declining. Last year, I presided over a meeting of top intellectuals and business leaders on improving the standards of engineering education in Maharashtra.
I was shocked to hear that a Survey conducted by an IT firm found that the average mathematical and problem solving ability of a 21 year old engineering graduate from India was lower than the average 15 – year old in OECD countries, that is Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development countries.
We were shocked. It was then decided to identify 50 engineering colleges in Maharashtra and to make a serious effort to bring them on par with the College of Engineering, Pune which has been transformed into an IIT-like institution with the help of mentoring arrangement with IIT Bombay.
I am very happy to mention that the students of the College of Engineering, Pune successfully launched an indigenously built small ‘Swayam Satellite’ in June this year and they are now preparing for the launch of another satellite with financial assistance from Government of Maharashtra.
What is true of engineering education is also true of other disciplines. It would be ideal for universities in Bihar to pursue specific goals. These could be:
1. Nurturing one or two universities which will find a place among the top 200 universities in the world.
2. Developing at least 25 Colleges into Centres of National Excellence.
3. Developing at least one college in every Taluka or Town into a Centre of State Excellence.
4. Promoting research and problem solving culture in every university and college in the State by taking up socially useful research projects; and
5. Providing every student higher education equipped with skills that would make him or her employable.
It is a universal experience that students of Humanities, Sciences and Social Sciences make the best of teachers. This brings me to my second observation today.
Faculty shortage has become a severe constraint in the pursuit of excellence in education. There is a shortage of almost 50 per cent of faculty members across the country. Somehow, I think every-one is loving faculty shortage !! Ad-hoc teachers are appointed. They are often underpaid. It is clear that we are not getting enough teachers through qualifying examinations like NET and SET or Ph D. We also need to see how we can encourage more post graduates to go for Ph D and research.
Sometime back, the Ministry of Human Resources Development had formed a task force to study the issue of faculty shortage and to suggest ways and means to overcome the same. Among various recommendations, the Task Force had recommended that teachers be provided proper remuneration without any kind of exploitation. Most importantly it recommended that women should be encouraged to join the academic profession and take up teaching career and research. The Task Force also recommended increasing the participation of minority and reserved category persons in the teaching profession. I think a serious thought must be given to these recommendations.
Classrooms are undergoing a fundamental change all over the world. Digital classrooms are changing the way, teachers are teaching, and students are learning. In today’s age of internet, smart phones and other gadgets, digital classroom is only a logical step in the field of knowledge-sharing and dissemination. Last week I inaugurated 29 Digital Classrooms and an e Content Studio in Pune.
We must see how digital classrooms help us to bring down the cost of education, produce and deliver quality lectures to the students and reach out to maximum students who wish to pursue higher education.
I do feel that the academic curricula must be dynamic, it must be on par with the best institutions in the world and it should have an industry-focus. An industry interface cell must be set up to establish linkages with the local industry and industry associations.
The government has initiated the ‘Start-up India’ campaign to promote financing for start-ups and offer incentives to boost entrepreneurship and job creation. I urge you, the graduating students to become entrepreneurs and create jobs. India doesn’t need job seekers, we want job givers and job creators. For India to become a superpower, we must produce thought-leaders in all disciplines.
Dear friends and teachers,
While leaving the portals of this institution and going elsewhere, you must take pride of your great culture and civilization.
Hu Shih, who was China’s Ambassador to the United States during 1938 – 1942 and who subsequently became the Vice Chancellor of the Peking University had famously said, and I quote:
“India conquered and dominated China culturally for 20 centuries, without ever having to send a single soldier across her border.”(Unquote)
Time has come to rejuvenate and recapture the past glory of this country through your character, innovation and services to society. I call upon each one of you to take a pledge to make the full use of your knowledge for the benefit of society and humanity at large.
As the University steps into its Centenary year, I wish the University all the glory and success. I once again congratulate you on this Convocation Day and wish you very well in your future career and life.
Jai Hind !