NEW DELHI: JNU students protesting a hostel-fee hike, curfew timings, and dress code restrictions in the hostel manual, turned violent as protesters clashed with the police and security personnel deployed at the AICTE auditorium in Vasant Kunj, New Delhi. Even as students protested, Vice President M. Venkaiah Naidu delivered the 3rd Annual Convocation of the Jawaharlal Nehru University. Naidu pointed out that India was once known as Vishwaguru and said that the time has come for India to once again emerge as a global hub of learning.
As students broke police barricades and raised slogans with placards, calling Vice-Chancellor M. Jagadesh Kumar a “thief,” police at the spot turned on water cannon to disperse them. JNU Student Union office-bearers claimed that they wanted to meet Vice Chancellor Prof. Jagdeesh Kumar to discuss “anti-student” provisions in the new hostel manual, but the V-C was unwilling to meet them. HRD Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal, who was present for the Convocation, was also unable to exit the venue due to the protests.
Meanwhile, during his speech, Vice President Naidu called for revamping the entire education system, from pedagogy to research, to make India a leading centre of knowledge and innovation.
Urging universities and institutions of higher learning to completely reorient their methods of teaching, he wanted JNU and other universities in India to figure among the top-ranking global institutions.
Naidu observed that the Indian civilization always laid emphasis on a holistic integrated vision of education. Urging universities like JNU to build on strengths and raise the bar, he said all-round excellence and the ability to lead the global agendas must be our aim.
Encouraging institutions of higher learning to learn from the best institutions in the world and adapt the best practices, he said: “We have, as a civilization, been one of the most receptive societies that has welcomed good ideas from across the world.”
Pointing out that India was on a unique growth trajectory, he said the students have “limitless opportunities” to contribute towards this endeavor.
Referring to the vast untapped demographic dividend, Naidu said the youth of the country, constituting two thirds of the population, must have access to high quality skill development and higher education facilities.
Reminding the students that they were inheritors of a great culture and a pluralistic, holistic world view, he advised them to develop an understanding of the finer aspects of this inheritance and preserve and propagate them. “You must continuously strive to use your knowledge and wisdom to improve the quality of life of people around you,” Naidu added.
Asserting that education has a transformation potential, the Vice President said that it transforms the learner and gives the power to harness knowledge for common good. “I would like to advise our outgoing graduands to follow India’s core philosophy of sharing and caring,” he added.
Emphasising the importance of empowering women through education, the Vice President said that no nation could make progress if women lagged behind. He also favoured political empowerment of women by providing reservations in the Parliament and State legislatures. He also lauded JNU for its special admission policy for women and students from marginalised sections.
The Vice President also emphasised the need to provide education till the 10th standard in one’s mother tongue. “We should give extra incentive to children who undergo their initial schooling in their mother tongues.” he said.
Union Minister for Human Resource Development, Ramesh Pokhariyal ‘Nishank’; Chancellor, JNU; Member of NITI Aayog, Vijay Kumar Saraswat; and Vice-Chancellor of JNU, Prof. Jagdeesh Kumar were among the dignitaries present at the Convocation.
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