Shillong, Nov 4: President Ram Nath Kovind on Monday said that higher education is a privilege not available to a lot of people in our country and appealed to students to help improve the condition of such underprivileged fellow citizens.
Addressing the 26th annual convocation of North Eastern Hill University here in Meghalaya, Kovind urged the students to give back to the society in whatever way they can.
Elated with 76% of the total gold medal awardees of NEHU are girls this year, the President said, “In almost all the universities where I have attended convocations, I have observed that girls have been outshining boys. This reflects our society's progress and points towards our bright future as a developed nation."
Exhorting upon the stakeholders to focus on ‘University Social Responsibility’ (USR), Kovind said, “To fulfil USR obligations, students of this university may spend time at some villages and also stay the night, if it is workable. They (students) should help the villagers deal with their problems.”
“They may make the villagers aware of the importance of sanitation, literacy, vaccination and nutrition of children. This exposure will not only help the villagers but also make the students more aware and sensitive to ground realities,” he appealed to the fresh graduates.
Stating that NEHU has emerged as a premier centre of learning, Kovind, who is also the Visitor of this central varsity, said, “institutions of higher education like NEHU can be instrumental of social and economic transformation and can help Meghalaya in achieving better ranking on Human Development Indices(HDI).”
Apart from imparting higher education in all the major disciplines, he said the university is also giving special emphasis on the development of this region which has a significant tribal population. Altogether, 14,502 students were conferred with their degrees and PhD degrees in their respective subjects.
Stating that there is a lot to learn from the traditional wisdom of the tribal brothers and sisters of Meghalaya, Kovind praised the progressive society of Meghalaya gives primacy to women and that also teaches the value of cleanliness.
“For several years, Mawlynnong has been regarded as the cleanest village in Asia. Speaking of cleanliness, it is worth mentioning that brooms made in Meghalaya from the local broom-grass are in great demand across the country. Pristine waters of Dawki and Umngot rivers reflect not only the beauty of nature but also the wisdom of Meghalaya’s people,” the President said. Moreover, Kovind said the tribes of Meghalaya had developed the unique art of building root bridges.
“Roots and branches of fast-growing trees are shaped along both banks of rivers and valleys in such a way that they meet to form a bridge. Root-bridges take around 15 to 25 years to build but these bioengineering wonders are estimated to last 500 years. This environment-friendly inter-generational way of building a natural infrastructure is full of messages for the entire humanity,” he said
Meghalaya Governor, Tathagata Roy, who is also the Chief Rector of the university, said the university needs to incorporate the diversity of the needs of the society and to be relevant to the corporate world.
He also underscored the need to review and restructure the curriculum to enable students to explore different avenues that are emerging today.
Chief Minister, Conrad K. Sangma said that NEHU has been an educational hub to a lot of students of this region and the journey that NEHU has taken through the years has brought the difference to thousands of lives of the students who had the opportunity to study here.
“Education has been a big priority for us, and as a Government, we will continue to focus on providing quality education right from the primary level or at the higher secondary level as well as higher and technical education,” he said.
“If you look at what’s happening in the world today, the economy is changing, the world is changing and the kind of job opportunities that were there, maybe five years back, may not be there in the coming years,” Sangma said.
“The young minds need to think about these changes that are happening around and we as a Government feel that it is important to create opportunities for the young minds. The youth should take risks and try to do something that is going to transform humanity forever and that is a kind of challenge that I want to give every one of you today here,” the Chief Minister said.
During the convocation, the President conferred the Degree of Doctor of Letters (Honoris Causa) to Kanubhai Hasmukhbhai Tailor in recognition of his outstanding contributions in advancing the cause of voluntary humanitarian services towards “Divyang”. (UNI)