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M K Narayanan: Violent means of protests are not acceptable

MK Narayanan  |  New Delhi 

May I begin by welcoming Professor Lu Yongxiang, president of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and Badal Sircar, one of India’s prominent theatre personalities, to Jadavpur University. As Chancellor of Jadavpur University, I thank them for gracing this occasion.

Professor Lu, we have followed your illustrious career as a teacher as well as a researcher in the area of mechanical engineering specialising in the area of fluid power transmission and control with great interest. Yours is a name to conjure with in the higher reaches of engineering education.

needs no introduction to audiences in India, and specially to an audience in Bengal. He is one of India’s leading theatre personalities who has given society a different perspective on burning issues of the day. He has written over 50 plays, of which, Ebong Indrajit, and Sara Raat have been hailed as literary masterpieces. He has been a pioneering figure in street theatre as well as in experimental and contemporary Bengali theatre. He is one of the most translated of Indian playwrights. He is the winner of the Padma Shree and the Sangeet Natak Akademy award as well as the Sangeet Natak Akademy Fellowship – Ratna Sadasya – the highest honour in performing arts.

Distinguished members of the audience, Jadavpur University is one of the finest universities in the country. This university conforms to Cardinal Newman’s idea of a university and permitted some distortions I quote: “A university is a place of concourse, wither students come from every quarter for every kind of knowledge…it is the place which wins the admiration of the young by its celebrity…it is the seat of wisdom and an alma mater of the rising generation.”

My young friends, it is not without significance that today’s convocation address is being delivered by an icon in the field of science and engineering and belongs to a country, which in a span of a little over 50 years, has transformed itself into a strong nation, and an economic giant second only to the United States. As a country, China displays dedication, commitment and determination to overcome all odds, aiming to become the best nation in the world. There is single-minded zeal for excellence.

China is China and India is India. Today, Jadavpur University is also honoring one of our cultural greats – the renowned We in India believe that it is not enough to have excellence or perfection in one single area – whether it is science, mathematics or management but that if you are to become a well-rounded personality, you must have other virtues and skills and imbibe the best of India’s civilisational traits, especially its cultural values. Ours is an inclusive society and we cherish the interlacing of one with the other.

Young graduates of today, as you go forth into the world, you will begin to realise how fortunate you are in that you are graduating in the early 21st century when India has awakened, is a country that is greatly respected, a nation that is praised for its democratic tendencies, and for being a pluralist and inclusive society. Also, that the world recognises that we are one of the major emerging economies, and that while we still have a large number of people who live below the poverty line, we have demonstrated that democracy can empower the poor and the marginalised and that we can live in peace with one another. This is, therefore, one of those moments in history, when the world looks with awe to India’s achievements.

Students, do not therefore, swerve from the straight and narrow path. In recent months, there have been occasions when students have resorted to tactics like gherao and violence, to demonstrate their protest over perceived grievances. While democratic protests are acceptable in a society, resort to violence needs to be avoided. As privileged individuals, you must understand this better than anyone else. I therefore appeal to you to avoid such tactics. The doors of the Vice Chancellor and the Chancellor are always open to you if you need to talk. The University is a place where to use Cardinal Newman’s words once again, and I quote, “Rashness is rendered innocuous and error exposed by the collusion of mind with mind, and knowledge with knowledge.”

Finally, I wish you well as you leave this institution. I only request you to maintain the high ideals of the institution and live by the advice that you have received from your teachers and others.

Speech by West Bengal Governor MK Narayanan at the convocation at Jadavpur University, 24 December 2010

First Published: Sun, January 09 2011. 00:05 IST