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 Pranab pleads for tolerance on varsity campus

By Rajiv Shukla
MUMBAI :
President Pranab Mukherjee once again made an impassioned plea for tolerance to thought and political views on university campuses at a solemn function organised by Bombay University here on March 17.

“There should be no room for intolerance, prejudice and hatred within the spaces of our educational institutions. They must act as flag bearers for the co-existence of multiple views, thoughts and philosophies,” he said.

Mr Mukherjee was speaking at a convocation to award genetic scientist M S Swaminathan a doctorate of laws. Swaminathan is known as the father of green revolution in India.

He quoted Mahatma Gandhi as having once said : “I do not want my house to be walled in on all sides and my windows to be stuffed. I want the cultures of all the lands to be blown about my house as freely as possible. But I refuse to be blown off my feet by any” (unquote)

"Ancient India was known for the high level of philosophical debate and discussion it nurtured. India was not a mere geographical expression but it reflected an idea and a culture. Conversation and dialogue are part of our ethos and life. They cannot be done away with. Universities and higher education institutions are the best fora for free exchange of views", he said.

"We should embrace free conversation and even argument, leaving behind narrow mindsets and thoughts. The lesson for a modern Indian university is to ensure that this great tradition finds new life and vigour within its precincts. There should be no room for intolerance, prejudice and hatred within the spaces of our educational institutions. They must act as flag bearers for the co-existence of multiple views, thoughts and philosophies", he added.

Venturing on social responsibilities of the students he said : "A good education system is one that can help develop social responsiveness in students. Ways should be devised to integrate student engagement with society in the academic framework. For instance, higher level students can be assigned to teach in government schools located nearby. Students can also be deployed to undertake community-based projects. They can identify problems and involve themselves in research to find solutions. Measures like these would mould students into confident and purposeful human beings who can, through their conviction and own example, inspire others. I call upon the faculty and students to internalise the values of selfless service and service before self, and instil them in everyone whose lives they touch."

The University of Mumbai is one of the oldest three universities in the country.

 

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