It is a pleasure to address the young graduates on this occasion of the Ninth Convocation of Vels Institute of Science, Technology and Advanced Studies (VISTAS). It gives me an opportunity to know about their aspirations, expectations and dreams for their future. And share my own with them. In the life of a student, Convocation is a mile-stone. It is the outcome of their hard work. It marks their transition from students to professionals, moving from one level of education to the next higher level.
I am told that today 68 PhD scholars, 145 MPhil Scholars, 363 Post-Graduates and 1,766 Graduates will be receiving their degrees. I congratulate all the students who are graduating from this university today and wish them every success in their future endeavours. I also compliment the members of the faculty and the parents for the success of these students. Teachers and parents shape the young minds and the destiny of our society. And we as a nation are ever grateful to the tireless teachers who mould the citizens of tomorrow with dedication and empathy.
It is an occasion when you will move out of the insulated life of the campus and explore the exiting new world of work. It is also the occasion when you will carry with yourself the high ideals you have imbibed during your stay in this esteemed institution.
As you move out of the campus, never let your inquisitiveness and quest for knowledge be extinguished. Dr. Babasaheb Ambedker said, “Cultivation of mind should be the ultimate aim of human existence.” So please continue to expand the ‘VISTAS’ of your knowledge. As the treasure house of wisdom, Thirukurral says “The deeper you dig in a sandy bed, more the water flows, the deeper you learn, the greater will be your wisdom.”
Upgrading your knowledge is ever more essential today as we live in a world where every technology is only transient. You are starting your professional career at a very exciting time. You are sitting on a rapidly moving knowledge cyberways. Entire new horizon of global opportunities opens up with a click of a mouse. You need to constantly update your knowledge and skills to create the niche for yourself in the global job market.
I am happy to note that even though yours is a young institution established in 2008, it is offering courses in sunrise areas. It is heartening that it has expanded both in basic sciences as well as applied science and technology like aviation and maritime studies, life sciences and pharmacy, Management and Law. Being a young institution there is a vast scope of improvement and experimentation particularly on parameters like research and professional practices as well as graduation outcomes. It is essential for the institutions of higher learning to re-invent themselves, open new horizons of knowledge and research.
I appreciate the role of your institution in making higher education inclusive. Happy to note that there are many students from socially disadvantaged groups in the under graduate programme and in Post Graduate programme.
While the Constitution recognises Right to Education a Fundamental Right and makes it incumbent upon the ‘State to provide free and compulsory education to all children of the age of six to fourteen years…’, higher education is equally essential ‘to develop the scientific temper, humanism and the spirit of inquiry and reform’ which are envisaged as the Fundamental Duties of the citizens. Therefore, quality higher education is necessary for the progress and development of our country. Before Independence in India, access to higher education was very limited and elitist. Since independence, the growth has been very impressive. More than 850 universities and more than 40,000 Colleges are offering various programmes in India.
Though we have expanded the number of higher education institutions, the quality of higher professional education, remains a major concern. Various studies and surveys have raised concern over the learning outcomes and employability of Indian graduates. We must address these issues and constantly reform the system and ensure that the higher educa tion institutions deliver high quality education. India is a young nation with 65% of our population being below 35 years. Every year almost 1 crore youth join the job market. It is the demographic dividend we as a nation can ill-afford to lose.
We are in midst of 4th Industrial revolution. The technology is changing exponentially. The new age technologies like Blockchain, Artificial Intelligence and 3D Printing, are changing the ways we live and work. You, as innovator entrepreneurs and global professionals, will be required to outpace this change. The faculty members shall have to be abreast with the latest technological developments. You must become more agile and alert to stay ahead of the knowledge curve.
With a view to making education a lifelong learning process and to expand the horizons of knowledge, the Government has launched SWAYAM online Courses. It is now providing opportunities of online higher education. I expect you to make use of these facilities. I am happy to learn that VISTAS has entered into MoU with several foreign universities and institutions. India has traditionally been open to knowledge exchange with other parts of the world.
For ages we have been the Vishwa Guru. We have shared our knowledge with the wider world and received their scholars in our Universities like Texila and Nalanda. We believed in the ancient vedic dictum “Aano Bhadrah Kritvo Yantu Vishwatah…” May the noble thoughts and wisdom come to us from all over the world. That is spirit we must infuse in our educational institutions today.
Edited excerpts from a speech by Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu at the 9th Annual Convocation of VELS Institute of Science, Technology and Advanced Studies, in Chennai on April 23, 2019