Father Dominic Savio, principal of St Xavier’s College, spoke of “India’s multi-religious and multi-cultural realities” during an interactive session with a delegation of educationists from British universities on Thursday.
“In the context of India’s multi-religious and multi-cultural realities, we need leaders in every field who promote inter-religious and social harmony,” Father Savio said.
In his welcome address, the principal said: “The foundation course (in his college), which is compulsory for all first-year students, aims to give every Xaverian an opportunity to develop acceptance and appreciation of the multi-religious, multi-cultural and multi-linguistic context of India.”
The visit by the British team, which is part of a larger delegation now visiting India, focused on exploring the possibilities of international research collaboration and student and faculty exchange.
Father Savio said if a student from a British University wanted to come to study at St Xavier’s College under a student exchange programme, he or she must know what the Jesuit institution stood for.
“Our approach has been very secular. Though it is a Christian institution, 80 per cent of our students are non-Christians. We are not worried whether a person is a Christian. All are welcome,” the principal later told The Telegraph.
His comments on India’s multi-religious and multi-cultural realities comes at a time when some people within the country and abroad have expressed concerns about religious intolerance in India.
Firdausul Hasan, secretary of the St Xavier’s Alumni Association, said: “St Xavier’s College, since its inception, has been known for promoting the multi-religious, multi-cultural and multi-linguistic context of India. Our principal, Father Dominic Savio, has highlighted this again today.”
Representatives of Royal Holloway College, University of London, University of Bath, University of East London, University of Kent and University of Leeds were present during the interaction with the college authorities.
Later, they took a tour of the college and visited the research facilities.
In the evening, the British Council hosted the West Bengal-UK Roundtable on higher education.
The event was attended by education minister Bratya Basu and education secretary Manish Jain.