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President Pranab Mukherjee today said there should be no room for intolerance, prejudice and hatred in educational institutes which should act as flag bearers for coexistence of multiple views.
Addressing a special convocation of the University of Mumbai to confer Honorary Doctor of Law to famous agriculture scientist M S Swaminathan, he said the higher education sector has a crucial role in national developmental effort.
"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," Mukherjee said.
The President also received the first postal stamp released here on the occasion of the university completing 160 years this year.
Mukherjee said higher education institutes must act as flag bearers for coexistence of multiple views, thoughts and philosophies.
"There should be no room for intolerance, prejudice and hatred within spaces of our educational institutions," he said.
Mukherjee, a history post-graduate himself, said ancient India was known for the high-level philosophical debates and discussions 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.
Emphasising on the importance of higher education on the economy, the President said, "The quality of training provided to students employed by the economy determines the level of its competence.
"Induction of quality manpower is the first point of contact the economy has with the higher education system," he said.
Mukherjee said courses in the campuses must be aligned to the needs of the industry.
"It will be beneficial to have corporate experts advising academic managers on industrial requirements in the course curricula," the President said.
Mukherjee 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," he said.
Economies that have performed beyond the traditional
growth sectors are knowledge economies, Mukherjee said, adding it is knowledge that has driven and will drive growth and development in the years ahead.
"In this scenario, the institutions of higher learning and their linkages with counterparts in other parts of the world are of critical importance. India, with its historic seats of learning, like Nalanda and Takshashila, stood not merely for quality education but also for global cooperation," he said.
Lauding Swaminathan for his pioneering efforts in the green revolution ushered in 1960s, the President said his work brought about a sea change in the life of Indian people.
"It is due to his pioneering efforts that our country transformed from its status of ship-to-mouth existence to one of the leading producers and exporters of food grains in the world," he said.
Mukherjee said Swaminathan has worked for over 65 years on a wide range of problems in basic and applied plant genetics and agricultural research.
Swaminathan, in his speech, thanked the university for honouring him with the degree.
The noted agriculture scientist said the university should play a proactive role in enhancing human well-being.
He expressed concern over the phenomenon of rising sea levels, an outcome of global warming.
"Sea levels are rising at an alarming speed, especially after 2003. Most importantly, it is anticipated that the rise in sea levels by 2100 would go up to 40 cm and this could be very alarming for a city like Mumbai," he said.
Such a situation would bring "climate refugees" who would need alternative accommodation, he maintained.
The 91-year-old renowned geneticist said, "We have entered into an era called 'Anthropocene' where human beings play a very crucial role in shaping the planet."
"The Anthropocene era is just catching on where humans are going to be the major determinants of the future. In the International Geological Congress held in August 2016 in Capetown, scientists came to conclusion that ecological and geological epoch needs to be recognised as the dawn of the human-influenced age," Swaminathan added.