His Excellency the Governor and the Honourable Chancellor of this prestigious Institution of Higher Learnening, Shri Keshari Nath Tripathi ji, respected Vice Chancellor Professor Gopalchandra Misraji, illustrious recipients of the degrees of D. Litt and D. Sc (honoris causa), Sri Dwijen Mukherjee, Dr Pranab Ray, Mahan Mj, and Professor Amitava Raychaudhuri, distinguished members of the University Court and Executive Council of the University of Gour Banga, my dear faculty members, administrative staff of the University, eminent guests, parents, and young recipients of various degrees, media- electronic and print and Ladies and Gentlemen.
Indeed, I deem it a special honour done to me in asking me to present this ceremonial address to this august assembly of distinguished scholars and public luminaries – present and future - on the occasion of the second Snaathakotsav. I am grateful to His Excellency Shri Keshari Nath Tripathi ji, Hon’ble Vice Chancellor Prof Misra ji and the University Court and Executive Council for inviting me to share this jubilant mood with all of you. This pleasant occasion takes all elders in this assembly back in times to become nostalgic of their times.
However, on such occasions, our attention is generally drawn towards our education system. One of the most discussed subjects by the modern intellectuals in India after the ‘politics’ is education system. Perhaps, no where in the world, it is so. The master nations developed the modern system from late medieval times in Europe and imposed the same on their colonies.
Our elders say that education makes a man civil and human. Character-building is considered the main object of the system. Our system goes a step further. It aims to spiritual accomplishments. Therefore, we nurtured both apara (worldly) and para (non-worldly) systems in our education. India has a rich knowledge tradition. The English records vouchsafe the existence of pathasalas (schools) in the towns and villages where general education was taught by private teachers supported by parents. Sanskrit, vernaculars, mathematics, medicine, astronomy, astrology etc were taught. Literature philosophy and other sastras were taught in gurukuls.
Till the mid nineteenth century, our native system which was not disturbed or ‘reformed’ since times immemorial continued to stay. The ‘new’ education replacing the ‘old’ alienated the natives from their traditional education. We are made strangers in our own country. The ‘new’ education was introduced in India in an alien alphabet and the object of the ‘new’ system was to prepare the youth to serve in the British Government offices at lower grades. The damage caused to Indian knowledge systems was soon realised by our scholar-leaders of 19th century. This pious land, Banga, played cradle for the Indian renaissance movement which turned out to be the national movement later. Let us hope that the upcoming generations of this land take lead in recovering what we lost in our ancient culture and wisdom.
Our leaders of the national movement have through out been conscious that the British system of education should be reformed in such a way that the objects of both systems are achieved by designing a hybrid one considering the inevitability of continuing modern system as the basic structure. What stirred the Indian intelligentsia for freedom was primarily to restore our ancient knowledge systems. Towards the close of the freedom struggle, many such models were designed and proposed with an intention that the emerging free nation could adopt it with a finest amalgam of both tradition and modernity. But so far we failed them in their aspirations with regard to our eduction. After the independence, many commissions on education were constituted from time to time from Sri Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan Commission onwards, but even after seven decades of Indian independence the efforts are on to look for a ‘New Education Policy’
We need a system which enables every young one passing out in flying colours from the university examinations to be free from anxiety about his future career in a congenial civil atmosphere. The nation should be assured that the system is shaping the future world with disciplined ‘human’ beings.
Well, coming to the present, the convocation was given greater significance in the ancient system known as ‘snaatakotsav’ which is conducted by the teacher after completing a course of study only when teacher was sure that the student has mastered the course. He was presented before scholars of repute for examination. After he passes the examination he is prepared and decorated like a ‘groom’ and profusely blessed. There was a practice that the teacher used to visit his disciple every now and then to make himself sure that the disciple has not forgotten what he was taught. That was the care taken for the wards by the teachers. Those who are passing out from this university should continue association with their alma mater to refresh or update their knowledge when an occasion arises.
Our universities have increased in number, serving the cause of higher education in remote areas. We must congratulate and appreciate the services of faculties working in such areas. We should take care that quantity should not allow the quality to drop. The alumni has a great role to play in fine-tuning the syllabi, guiding the students and providing them exposure to outside world. The latest developments in their respective fields may be introduced to the students maintaining good relations with the faculty. That makes the university campus lively and dynamic.
In fact, university does not mean mere concrete structures. Monastic centres of education in India sprang up with Buddhism. Earlier, there were education towns like Varanasi or Takshila where gurus and their shishyas used to live in hundreds, nay, in thousands. Those cities were only conglomerations of individual houses.
Our modern education is seldom providing instruction in all disciplines. Now the technological courses are ruling the psyche. As modern man has become multidimensional, the society needs knowledge and technologies based on various sciences and humanities. Therefore, we should aim at an all round development of knowledge. The government should plan for the courses and provide instructions keeping in view the requirements of human resources in each field. This would help reduce unemployment and facilitate fair distribution of opportunities among the youth.
As I understand that this region has long and rich history dating back to puranic times. This part of India is known from epic times with illustrious civilisational developments as recorded in history. We should establish and strengthen the link between the past and present. We should see that young minds develop respect for the past wisdom through our education. The historical tradition has to be established so that we are not cut off from our own origins.
This region was known for its educational institutions of higher learning till late medieval times. Rich libraries attached to internationally known centres of higher learning of this region were famous far and wide. Now it is heartening to note that it is recovering. I congratulate all the recipients of various degrees who put their maximum efforts to complete their education against many odds. I wish them to succeed in their careers and life as glowingly as they are passing out of the university ramparts now. Wishing them once again all the best and hoping to see at least a few of them to sit on this side of luminaries receiving Doctarates Honoris Causa making all of us feel proud.
Thanking you, one and all,
Y Sudershan Rao, Ph.D.,
Professor of History (Rtd)
Indian Council of Historical Research,
New Delhi – 1100001
Camp : Malda (W B)
16 March 2017-->