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
“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
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.