Paramount duty of universities to ensure free expression in campuses : President
President Ram Nath Kovind said here today it was the paramount duty of universities to ensure that their campuses emerged as spaces that nurtured free expression and ideas, where experimentation was encouraged and failure was not ridiculed.
Addressing concluding session of the vice-chancellors' meet of central universities at the Rashtrapati Bhavan, the president said it was important that the universities hold their convocations regularly and on time as one year academic calendar is incomplete till convocation was held and degrees were distributed.
Underlining the issue of faculty shortage faced by the universities, Kovind, among other solutions, suggested that the ability of each university to attract talent also depended upon its own reputation and quality.
"So, compete to become the best among your peers and your success at hiring and retaining talent will automatically improve," he said.
The president said the universities should play a leading role in addressing the specific challenges faced by the country, many of which require creative and innovative solutions.
It is your paramount duty to ensure that your campuses emerge as spaces that nurture free expression and ideas, where experimentation is encouraged and failure is not ridiculed, but is seen as learning, he told the VCs of the central universities of which the president is the chancellor.
The universities should become the conduits for exposing students to the problems faced by people, nation, cities, towns and villages, he said.
"And while theory lectures in classroom are important for students, so too are field projects in nearby villages and towns. We need to introspect whether we are doing enough in this regard," Kovind said.
During the meet, the president honoured four academics with visitor's award for research in the fields of basic and applied science, humanities, arts and social science. The award for research in the field of basic and applied science was jointly presented to Sanjay K Jain of Dr Harisingh Gour Vishwavidyalaya, Sagar, Madhya Pradesh, and Ashish Kumar Mukherjee of Tezpur University, Assam.
The award in the field of humanities, arts and social science was presented to Pramod K Nayar, University of Hyderabad, Telangana, and to Ashwani Pareek of Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi for technology development. Jain is being given the award for his contribution to the development of a new drug delivery system for colon tumours with reduced toxicity. Mukherjee was awarded for his research on snake venoms, while Nayar was honoured for his work on the poetry for the underprivileged, memoirs and fiction, the Bhopal gas tragedy and other episodes. Pareek has been bestowed with the honour for developing Stress Tolerant Rice of the Next Generation (STRONG).
Earlier in the day, while inaugurating the one-day meet, the president said the central universities are the pride of country's higher education system. "They have contributed immensely to nation-building and continue to do so. The goal of our central universities should be to constantly grow and upgrade themselves as per the best of global standards," he said.
The president said emphasis should be paid on the merits of research and teaching profession in the society at large.
"This profession offers unique benefits that no other career offers freedom to ideate and to test and spread those ideas through research and teaching, freedom to make your work schedules, and may I say perhaps freedom from having a 24 by 7 boss too," Kovind said.