Prime Minister of Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina, present on the stage, Governor of West Bengal Mr. Keshari Nathji Tripathi, Chief Minister of West Bengal Ms Mamata Banerjee, Vice-Chancellor of Visva Bharati Professor Sabuj Kali Sen and Vice-Chancellor of Ramakrishna Mission Vivekananda Institute Swami Swamyapriyanand ji, everyone present here from Visva Bharati and my dear young friends,
As the Chancellor of Visva Bharati, first of all I apologize to all of you because on the way to the university some children were pointing out to me that they didn't even have access to drinking water. As the Chancellor of the University it's my responsibility to ensure that you are not inconvenienced. Therefore, I beg your pardon for the inconvenience caused to you. Being the Prime Minister, I have had the opportunity to participate in the convocation of several universities of the country. In most of the cases I was present there as a guest. But today I am not a guest here but the Chancellor. My role here is a result of democracy. I am the Chancellor due to the post of Prime Minister. This democracy is in itself a master that is inspiring more than 125 crore Indians in different ways. Every person who is nurtured and educated by the values of democracy is helpful in building a better India and a better future. We have been told that आचार्यत विद्याविहिता साघिष्ठतम प्राप्युति इति which means that one cannot attain education, excellence and success without going to a teacher. I am really fortunate to have got the opportunity of spending some quality time with so many teachers on the holy land of Gurudev Rabindranath Thakur.
Just like one can feel the power of mantras in a temple, I am experiencing a similar energy in the Viswa Bharati University. While I was coming towards the stage after getting down from the car, I was wondering that once Rabindranath Tagore had stepped on every part of this land. He must have penned down his words sitting here. He might have hummed his music somewhere here and might have held long conversations with Mahatma Gandhi here. He might have explained the meaning of life, nation and self-respect of the nation to his students.
Today we have gathered here to follow a tradition. Amarkunj is a witness to several such events for the past century. One phase of whatever you have learnt over the past several years will conclude today. I want to congratulate all the recipients of the degree. My best wishes to them for their future endeavours. This degree is the proof of your educational qualification. Therefore, it is significant in this regard. However, you have achieved not only the degree but also the priceless learnings. You are the heir of a rich heritage. You are associated with a Guru-Shishya tradition which is both ancient and modern.
In the vedic and puranic era, Sages had nurtured this tradition while in the modern era, it was carried forward by great personalities like Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore. This is not just an address but a great message for you all. This is an example of how nature teaches us to be a good human being or a nation. This is the expression behind this wonderful organisation and the great idea of Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore which became the cornerstone of Viswa Bharati.
Brothers and sisters,
यत्र विश्वम भवेतेक निरम। This means that the entire world is a nest or a house. This teaching of the Vedas has been made the essential message of Viswa Bharati by Gurudev. The essence of India's rich tradition is hidden in this Veda Mantra. Gurudev wanted this place to be a proclamation which the whole world would make its home. The nests and homesteads are given equal importance where the entire world can be accommodated. This is what Indianness is. This it is the mantra of 'Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam' which has been echoing from the land of India for the past thousands of years. Gurudev had devoted his entire life to this mantra.
The Vedas and Upanishads were as relevant even 100 years back when Rabindranath Tagore had come to Shantiniketan as they were thousands of years ago. These are even relevant today for dealing with the challenges of the world in the 21st century. It is true that today nations are confined within political boundaries. However, it is also a fact that the great traditions of this land have spread in the form of globalization. Today, Bangladesh's Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina ji is also present among us. It is a rare occasion as the Prime Ministers of two countries are present in the same convocation. India and Bangladesh are two nations but our interests lie in co-ordination and cooperation with each other. We can learn a lot from each other whether it is about culture or public policy. For example, the Bangladesh Bhawan which will be inaugurated by both of us shortly. This building is also a reflection of Gurudev's vision.
At times, I am surprised when I see that not only Gurudev's personality, but also his travels were extensive. During my foreign tours, I meet many people who tell me that several years ago Tagore had visited their country. In those countries today, Gurudev is still remembered with great love and respect. People try to associate themselves with Tagore.
In Afghanistan, every Afghan keeps mentioning about the story of Kabuliwala with great pride. Three years ago when I went to Tajikistan, I had got the opportunity to inaugurate a statue of Gurudev. I can never forget the respect that people had for Gurudev there.
In many universities of the world Tagore is still a subject of study. There are chairs named after him. It won't be wrong to say that Tagore was and is still a global citizen. On this occasion, I am really eager to tell you about the relation he had with Gujarat. Gurudev had a special relationship with Gujarat. His elder brother, Satyendranath Tagore was the first Indian to join the civil services. He had stayed in Ahmedabad for a long time. Most probably he was the Commissioner of Ahmedabad. I had read somewhere that before leaving for England, Satyendranath ji had taught his younger brother English for six months in Ahmedabad only. Gurudev was only 17 years old at that time. During that period, Gurudev had written some important parts of his popular novel 'Khudito Pashan' and a few poems in Ahmedabad. In a way, every corner of the country including Gujarat had played some or the other role in the emergence of Gurudev at the global front.
Gurudev believed that every person is born to attain some goal. Education plays a crucial role in making every child capable in order to reach their goals. We can get a glimpse of the kind of education he desired for children in his poetry 'power of affection'. He used to say that education is not the only thing which is imparted in schools. Education is a balanced development of every aspect of a person which can not be tied to time and place. And that's why Gurudev always desired that Indian students were well-acquainted with what was happening in the external world; how many people lived in other countries; what were their social values, their cultural heritage and so on. He always insisted upon knowing these things. However, at the same time he insisted that one should not forget one's Indian culture.
I was told that once he had explained this aspect through a letter to his son-in-law who had gone to study agriculture in America. He had written to his son-in-law that studying agriculture was not enough and meeting the local people was also a part of education. He further wrote that if in the process of knowing the people he started losing his identity then he should keep himself locked inside the room.
In the Indian National Movement, Tagore ji's educational and Indian philosophy became a distant one. His life was an integral part of national and global ideas, which have been part of our ancient traditions. This was also one of the reasons that he created a separate world of education in Visva-Bharati here. Simplicity is the basic principle of education here. Classes are still run under the trees in the open air. There is a direct interaction between man and nature. All the dimensions of human life including music, painting, theatre and acting are being nurtured in the lap of nature. I am glad that this institution is continuously moving towards fulfilling the dreams with which its foundation stone was laid by Gurudev. His efforts to combine education and skill development and for uplifting the standard of life of common man is commendable. I have been told that you are working together to develop almost 50 villages here. My hopes and ambitions expanded when I was told about this effort. Hope grows with work. Since you have done so much my expectations from you have also raised slightly.
This institution will complete its 100 years in 2021. You can exapand your efforts from 50 villages to 100 or 200 villages in the next 2-3 years. It's my request to you all to sync your efforts to the needs of the country. For example, you can make a resolution that by the centenary of the institution in 2021, you will develop 100 villages that will have electricity connections in every household, gas connection and toilets, mothers and children will be fully immunized and people will be educated about digital transactions. They will be aware of common Service centres and the way to fill up online forms.
You must be well aware of the fact that gas connections provided under Ujjwala scheme and toilets built under Swachh Bharat Mission are meant for easing the lives of women.
Your efforts in the villages, worshippers of Shakti, will work to empower women on this land. Besides, efforts can also be made to turn these 100 villages into nature-loving or nature- worshipping villages. Just like you are working for the preservation of nature, these villages will also become part of your mission. These villages should carry forward the vision of water conservation through adequate arrangements for water storage. Air pollution can be prevented by avoiding the use of firewood. Soil can be conserved by using organic fertilizer keeping cleanliness in mind. Gobar Dhan Yojana of the Government of India can be used to chieve this. You can complete all that work by making a check list.
Today we are facing different types of challenges. 125 crore Indians have vowed to build a New India by 2022 that will mark 75 years of independence. Education and institutions of education like this one play significant role in the pursuit of this resolution. Young people from such institutions give new energy and direction to the country. Our universities are not just educational institutions. Efforts are going on to ensure their active participation in social life.
Under Unnat Bharat Abhiyan, the universities are being linked to the development of the villages. In line with Gurudev's vision, the central government is constantly working to strengthen our education system according to the needs of New India. A new scheme called Revitalizing Infrastructure and System in Education i.e. RISE has been announced in this year's budget. Under this, one lakh crore rupees will be spent in the next four years to improve the education system of the country. Global Initiative of Academic Network was also started. Through this, the best teachers of the world are being invited to teach in Indian institutions. With an investment of one thousand crores, Higher Education Financing Agency has been created to provide adequate facilities to educational institutions. This will help the major educational institutions to invest in high quality infrastructure. 2400 schools across the country have been selected to shape the innovative mindset of the children at an early age. In these schools, we are focusing on students from class 6 to 12 through Atal Tinkering Labs. These labs with modern technology are being introduced to children.
Your institution is an living example of innovation in education. I would wish that more than 11000 students of Visva-Bharati should avail maximum benefits out of the schemes introduced for promoting innovation. You are all passing out from this Institution. With the blessings of Gurudev, you have received a vision. You are carrying the identity of Viswa Bharati with you.
I would urge you to carry on with your efforts to elevate its pride. The people will salute this Institution when they will hear about its students who would change the lives of 500-1000 people through innovation.
Remember, what Gurudev had said, "Jodi Tor daak shune keu na ashe tabe ekla chalo ray". If no one is ready to walk with you, keep going alone towards your goal. But today I have come here to tell you that if you take one step, the government is ready to move four steps with you. Public participation will only take our country forward to the desired 21st century of which Gurudev had dreamt.
Gurudev had told Gandhiji sometime before his death that Visva Bharti is the ship where the most precious treasure of his life remains. He hoped that all of us, the people of India, would cherish this precious treasure. So, it's the responsibilty of all of us to not only preserve this treasure but also to enrich it. May Viswa Bharati University keep showing new ways to the world along with the dream of New India? With that I end my speech. Thank you very much.
May you fulfil your dreams along with the dreams of your parents, this institution as well as the country. Best wishes to you all! Thank you very much!