President Ram Nath Kovind: JNU campus encourages free debate and respect for difference in opinion

He added that JNU has always been a follower of the multi-disciplinary approach since inception that is now given greater importance in the new NEP document
President Ram Nath Kovind| Pic: PTI
President Ram Nath Kovind| Pic: PTI

Jawaharlal Nehru University represents a blend of inclusion, diversity and excellence, President Ram Nath Kovind said while addressing students virtually at the varsity's fourth annual convocation on Wednesday. "JNU is among those select institutes of higher education which can reach globally comparable excellence. Scholars from JNU command very high regard in the global academic arena. You have to build upon this rich legacy," he told scholars, who were present virtually to accept their degrees.

Emphasising more on the varsity's well-known legacy, the President added that students at JNU come from diverse, intellectual communities. "The university has produced eminent personalities and students have been guided by distinguished minds, which in turn, created an impact across fields. The JNU campus encourages free debate and respect for difference in opinion. There are vibrant discussions outside classrooms in places such as the cafeteria and dhabas. Students from various strata of society study here in an atmosphere of equal opportunity," he said.

Further, speaking about the new National Education Policy (NEP 2020) he said that the document "states that it is critical for higher educational institutions to take the lead in research in areas of infectious disease — virology, epidemiology, diagnostics, vaccinology and other related areas. Universities like JNU should be at the forefront in creating mechanisms to promote innovations among the students' community." He also added that JNU has always been a follower of the multi-disciplinary approach since inception that is now given greater importance in the new NEP document. "Wide range of specialised learning has been promoted by JNU in fields of humanities, social sciences, liberal arts and more. Thus, JNU attracts students from all parts of the country and abroad — at least 15 per cent of the students every year represent 30-35 other countries," the President added.

Opining how JNU will be playing an integral role in providing holistic education, which is another important tenet of the NEP document, President Kovind said, "The varsity will establish new centres to promote skill development, employability of our youth. And this will enable them to create knowledge-based enterprises and contribute to the country's economy. One such example is the Atal Incubation Centre at JNU, which is helping innovators in scaling up their ideas and sharing the successes with the whole nation."

Quoting Swami Vivekananda, the president added, "Education is not the amount of information that is put into your brains, runs riot and then digested. All our life, we must have character building, man-making assimilation of ideas. Then you will have more education than any man who might know a library by heart." Referring to the recent unveiling of Vivekananda's statue at the JNU campus, President Kovind said, "His statue will keep reminding the students of the universal ideals preached and practised by Swamiji. In dealing with today's challenges, we can draw inspiration from that."

Also virtually present at the convocation, Education Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal stated that 607 PhD degrees were being handed out to scholars on Wednesday. He congratulated the students and faculty at JNU, saying, "The year 2020 will be written in India's history for facing and overcoming unprecedented challenges when we have transformed obstacles into opportunities. Students should update, upgrade, educate at all times otherwise there's a danger of getting outdated. Wherever you go, stay true to your roots. The youth in JNU will provide the country with direction and show the way forward. They will be the ones who can fulfil the vision and mission of making India Aatmanirbhar and world-renowned."

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