President Pranab Mukherjee confers a degree on a student during the convocation of Assam University in Silchar on Tuesday as chief minister Tarun Gogoi looks on. (PTI)
Silchar/Kohima, May 14: President Pranab Mukherjee today urged students and academicians to use education as a tool to combat “moral decline and degradation”.
Addressing the 13th convocation of Assam University at Netaji Subhas auditorium, Mukherjee urged scholars, teachers and the student community in general and the Northeast in particular to use education as a potential force for upgrading the quality of life of the masses.
He added that though the institutes of higher learning of the Union government have made rapid rise with the establishment of 95 central institutions in the past few years, there is scope for improvement.
Mukherjee, the Visitor of this university, regretted that though the country has progressed in setting up higher education infrastructure, the pace of enrolment of students in Indian universities is still the feeblest. The rate of admissions in the portals of higher education is only 19 per cent as against the world average of 29 per cent, he said.
He also expressed concern over “lack of expertise in innovation” among academics and students. He made it clear that innovative expertise is the key to social development of any nation. “We excel in replicating the stereotypes. I urge the scholars to abandon their conventional approach and choose out-of-the-box thinking”.
Expressing satisfaction at the number of women scholars at today’s convocation, the President said the country should aim at the establishment of some world class centres of higher learning so that our universities can compete with top universities in the world.
The President said he was looking forward to that day “when our scholars will get more Nobel prizes for their research and creative thinking”.
Assam University today awarded honorary PhD and DLitt in science, films, social sciences and culture to actor Soumitra Chatterjee, thespian and filmmaker Ratan Thiyam, journalist Amitabha Choudhury, physicist Shailesh Nayak, economist Mrinal Dutta Choudhury, theoretical physicist Narasimhaiengar Mukunda and scientist Amit Ghosh.
Filmmaker and lyricist Gulzar, who is the chancellor of this university, presided over this function. Governor J.B. Patnaik and chief minister Tarun Gogoi also spoke on the occasion.
The President later left for Nagaland on a two-day visit. He will attend the Nagaland University convocation at Lumami in Zunheboto district tomorrow.
Mukherjee was received at the Assam Rifles helipad by Nagaland Governor Ashwani Kumar, chief minister Neiphiu Rio, his cabinet colleagues and senior government officials.
After his arrival from Guwahati, Mukherjee met apex Naga organisations and political parties. The Congress, led by its president S.I. Jamir, submitted a memorandum urging the Centre to expedite the Naga peace process.
The Naga Hoho, the apex Naga organisation, also submitted a representation to Mukherjee for an early solution to the Naga problem.