Higher Education A Privilege Not Available To Many: Kovind

Shillong: Noting that higher education is a privilege not available to a lot of people in India, President Ram Nath Kovind on Monday appealed to graduates to help improve the condition of such underprivileged fellow citizens.

Kovind, who addressed the 26th annual convocation of North Eastern Hill University (NEHU) here, also urged the students to give back to the society in whatever way they can.

Calling upon the stakeholders to focus on University Social Responsibility’ (USR), the President said, “In order 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 about 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 told the fresh graduates.

Stating that NEHU had emerged as a premier centre of learning in the region, Kovind said he was happy to note that besides imparting higher education in all the major disciplines, the university was also giving special emphasis on the development of this region which has significant tribal population.

He said that institutions of higher education like NEHU can be instruments of social and economic transformation and can help Meghalaya in achieving better ranking on Human Development Indices.

“I feel especially happy to note that out of all medal awardees in today’s convocation, as many as 76 per cent are girls. 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,” the President said.

Meghalaya Governor Tathagata Roy, Chief Minister Conrad Sangma, Education Minister Lahkmen Rymbui also attended the function during which Kanubhai Tailor, a specially abled ‘Padmashri’ awardee, was conferred the honorary degree of Doctor of Letters in recognition of his contribution towards the upliftment of physically challenged people.

In all, 14,502 students were conferred with degrees.

Kovind said there is a lot to learn from the traditional wisdom of the tribal brothers and sisters of Meghalaya.

“The progressive society of Meghalaya gives primacy to women. The people of Meghalaya also teach 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. The pristine waters of Dawki and Umngot rivers reflect not only 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 rootbridges.

“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 entire humanity,” he said

Stating that passion for sports, specially football, among the youth of Meghalaya is well known, the President said, “I am glad that Meghalaya is implementing ‘Mission Football’ to encourage talented youngsters, including girls. The energetic and talented youth of the Northeast, including Meghalaya, have earned goodwill as sound professionals in the fields of information technology, healthcare, hospitality and several other areas.

He also appealed to the youth to maintain and further strengthen their image as excellent sportspersons, artists and professionals, and not become victims of habits or substances which are injurious to health.