Mukherjee at the Vidyasagar memorial lecture. (Samir Mondal)
Midnapore, Sept. 15: President Pranab Mukherjee today said the society lacked respect for women, the comments coming against the backdrop of rising atrocities against them.
“Vidyasagar was not bothered about religion but he was bothered about sincerity: sincerity of purpose, honesty in life, respect for women… almost worship for women, which the society is lacking today and I am sorry to say this,” he said while delivering the seventh Vidyasagar memorial lecture at Birendranath Sasmal Hall of Vidyasagar University in Midnapore town.
The President said everyone was equal under the Constitution. “But that cannot be achieved unless people are conscious, and bright young people come forward to protect it.”
Mukherjee regretted that “social degradation” had pervaded various fields of society and educated people must fight against this.
Recalling the pivotal role played by Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar in propagating widow remarriage, abolition of polygamy and fighting child marriage, the President said female foeticide was “totally abhorrent” and should be immediately stopped.
“Even today, there are about 30 million widows in India who often face discrimination and neglect,” he added.
Maintaining that education had a major role in India’s development, Mukherjee said: “I fail to understand why not a single Indian educational institution today finds a place among the top 200 universities in the world…. Something is lacking in our education system.”
Earlier, the President inaugurated a new building of the 132-year-old Ghatal Vidyasagar School in East Midnapore.
Addressing students there, Mukherjee said the Indian society today faced “moral turbulence”.
“To arrest the erosion of values, we have to mould the minds of our youth and inculcate in them the indispensable values of civilisation,” the President added.