Economist Kaushik Basu said India used to be “an open society”, while addressing students of Ramakrishna Mission Vidyamandira during its annual convocation.
Basu, Carl Marks professor of international studies in the department of economics at the SC Johnson Graduate School of Management, Cornell University, spoke virtually on Saturday.
He told the students that they are graduating at a time “when the whole world is in difficulty” but the slide in India’s economy started even before the pandemic.
Principal Swami Ekachittananda said in his address that in the post-Covid scenario, when the whole country is facing a severe financial crisis, “we are not sure to what extent we can continue this sevayajna as far as the economic assistance to the underprivileged is concerned”. He said because of the prolonged alienation from college because of the pandemic, a section of the students was suffering from mental agony and even depression.
On Saturday, 258 students were awarded degrees physically.
Excerpts from what Basu said:
I have to say I personally admire the founding principles of India. India used to be an open society, we want this to be a tolerant society where all kinds of people will come and live and share our land. That was the vision of Rabindranath Tagore, Swami Vivekananda and Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. It was out of these big ideas that India was born.
Friends, you are graduating at a time when the whole world is in difficulty. I am an economist so I pay special attention to the economy. The economy is in trouble. The Covid-19 pandemic has caused difficulties for all countries and you are graduating in the midst of this.
India was growing about 8 per cent per annum and by 2008 India was growing at close to 10 per cent, which is about the highest seen anywhere in the world. There had been slowdowns and increases from 2016. India’s growth is coming down.
I have to confess that I am not a religious person. So religion is not the reason for my affinity for the Ramakrishna Mission. I believe in leading an ethical life, in the importance of kindness and compassion and having a moral compass as you go about in life. The Ramakrishna Mission and your college Vidyamandira teach these same values.
We want our India free of hatred, religious bickering and caste. Go out to the world and try to do your best to build such an India that can contribute to the universe.
There will be times when you will face disappointments. But what is disappointment and what is a blessing, we are too small in this universe to know that. So what at times looks like disappointment turns out to be a blessing.