Leave behind violence, conflict; which are no solution: Pranab

Leave behind violence, conflict; which are no solution: Pranab

27 September 2012
The Daily Excelsior
Sanjeev Pargal

Jammu: Reaching out to the people of Jammu and Kashmir, who have suffered from over two decades long violence, President Pranab Mukherjee today hoped that dark days of violence and conflict would be left behind and a new dawn would emerge. He asserted that no problems can be ever resolved by violence and called for greater tolerance in the society. Mr Mukherjee said the Governments of India and Jammu and Kashmir were determined to ensure that every Kashmiri lives with dignity having equal rights and opportunities. Addressing 18th convocation of Kashmir University on second day of his three days visit to the Kashmir Valley, his first after being elected as President in July this year, Mr Mukherjee said 'let the dark days of violence and conflict be left behind and let a new dawn emerge'. He candidly acknowledged that the people of Kashmir have grievances. 'Many important issues need deft handling and speedy resolution,' Pranab said, adding that both the Central and State Governments were determined to ensure that people of Kashmir live with dignity having equal rights and equal opportunities. After the convocation address and handing over degrees to pass-outs of Kashmir University amidst tight security arrangements both within and outside the Campus for about two hours, the President also had motor boat ride in Dal lake and was briefed on its cleaning operations. He met Intellectuals at Raj Bhawan this evening including Vice Chancellors of all Universities in Jammu and Kashmir and Professors to ascertain their perception on situation in the Valley. He attended a dinner hosted by Chief Minister Omar Abdullah at Sher-i-Kashmir International Convention Centre (SKICC) in Srinagar tonight. Governor NN Vohra, Deputy Chief Minister Tara Chand, Speaker Mohammad Akbar Lone, PCC (I) chief Prof Saif-ud-Din Soz, Council of Ministers, legislators, top officers from Army, para-military forces, police, civil administration and prominent personalities joined the dinner. Pranab inter-acted with some of them during the dinner. The President also received five delegations of saffron growers, Sikhs, horticulturists, artisans and Congress workers separately, inter-acted with them and listened to their problems. Some of them submitted memorandum to Pranab listing their demands. The President would return to New Delhi tomorrow morning. In his convocation address, Pranab called for greater tolerance in the society. 'No problems are ever resolved by violence. It only aggravates the pain and the hurt on every side. The healing process must be nurtured with love, compassion and patience', the President said in his address virtually aimed at citizens of the Valley, which was recovering from violence that engulfed it in 1988. Contrary to reports that some students might create trouble, nearly two hour long function in the Kashmir University went off smoothly. Scores of students received degrees and gold medals amidst thunderous applause in a packed hall from the audience that included Governor N N Vohra, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, members of the State Cabinet, legislators, Judges, scholars and students. He said India of tomorrow, achieved through inclusive growth, offers enormous opportunities for the youth of Kashmir if they only seize them. 'Do not lose any more time. The whole world is rapidly transforming itself. We in India should not be left behind. The contributions of young Kashmiris are critical for India's advancement to progress. 'Let the dark days of violence and conflict be left behind. Let a new dawn emerge. It is the time to move ahead with faith in our collective future and confidence in the largest democracy in the world, where rule of law prevails, robust institutions function and the Constitution serves as the Supreme Law,' Mr Mukherjee said, adding 'let Jammu and Kashmir lead the way in the building of a new future for India. Let it set an example to the rest of India and the world by showing how the entire region can be transformed into a zone of peace, stability and prosperity. 'Let Jammu and Kashmir regain its historical role as a center of learning, a place frequented by saints and religious scholars, a land known for its diversity and harmony, a fulcrum of trade and commerce with our neighbours,' Pranab said. He added that institutions of higher education, with their emphasis on sound value systems and character building can play an effective role in developing a greater sense of responsibility and a rational approach to all issues. 'In this context, the duty of teachers is to inculcate in their students a balance - of knowledge and skills with the moral and aesthetic values,' he said. Mr Mukherjee also called upon the youth of Kashmir to take the lead in forging the future of our nation. In every field of activity - be it business, industry, trade, education or culture, India is a nation on the move. 'A billion people marching forward led by the ideas, enterprise and energy of its predominantly young population,' he said. 'I am confident that the young people of India will build a strong and powerful nation - a nation that is politically mature and economically strong, a nation whose people enjoy both a high quality of life as well as justice, fundamental rights and equality,' Pranab said. He emphasised on the need to prioritise the preservation of ecology and environment of the State by students and researchers 'This is as an area where Universities such as yours could make a great contribution for your own benefit and that of future generations. There is an urgent need to make students duly cognisant of the visible effects of climate change and the general degradation of our land, freshwater and marine resources,' he said. Mr Mukherjee said in Kashmir itself, a lot needs to be done to safeguard the immediate environs - and to evolve an academic curriculum and research to address the challenges. He also asked the University to have collaborations and linkages between premier institutions of higher learning in India and abroad for cross fertilisation of ideas and advancement of knowledge. 'I am aware that University of Kashmir is electronically linked with knowledge banks and information offered by reputed Institutions across the world. This needs to be disseminated with optimal efficiency. This is the time to shift towards increasingly interactive, and collaborative learning experiences,' he said. The President said new technologies needed to be adopted which have useful applications for teaching, learning and professional growth. 'This will bring a significant improvement in the quality of our teaching and research. Universities must promote creativity and innovation. Creation of a knowledge society requires that Universities encourage autonomous research,' he said. Mukherjee said he was deeply conscious of the great standing of Kashmir as the Sharda Peeth - the 'Seat of Learning' - in ancient times. 'This beautiful valley has nursed in its lap great men of letters, poets and patrons of learning. It has also attracted philosophers and scholars from diverse cultures and foreign civilisations who contributed to its rich heritage. I am sure that students and faculty of the University have a sense of the rich legacy that they have inherited and will derive inspiration and benefit from it', Pranab said. Underlining that information technology has brought in new opportunities, he said, 'Government of India, in its 12th Five Year Plan has a well defined strategy to achieve this. It includes expansion of infrastructure with regional equity, focus on performance, better human resource management, reform of the curriculum, promotion of quality research and creation of an environment that will attract the best talent.' 'I am aware that University of Kashmir is electronically linked with knowledge banks and information offered by reputed Institutions across the world. This needs to be disseminated with optimal efficiency. This is the time to shift towards increasingly interactive, and collaborative learning experiences,' Mr Mukherjee said. The President later condemned the offensive video on Islam made in the US and its dissemination through social media. 'I condemn in the strongest of terms the making of the offensive video and its dissemination through social media. India can never condone any act which disparages religious sentiments or hurts religious feelings,' he said. The President was reacting to a media query and to local sentiments, which also found expression through advertisements in local newspapers in which he was urged to denounce the film. 'The Ministry of External Affairs is in touch with the US officials who share our concerns on the matter. Google India has in compliance with Indian law, blocked access to the offensive material,' Mr Mukherjee said. In the afternoon, the President met Intellectuals including Vice Chancellors of all Universities of Jammu and Kashmir and educationists at Raj Bhawan, Srinagar. Addressing, he called upon them to imbibe Tagore's spirit of universalism and pluralism. The Intellectuals briefed the President on higher education scenario in Jammu and Kashmir. He called upon them not just to achieve high standards but also maintain them on a sustained basis. He informed them that he has asked the Minister of Human Resource Development to convene a conference of Central University Vice Chancellors so that problems affecting higher education in the country can be discussed in detail. Mr Mukherjee complimented the gathering for their contributions to higher education and reminiscenced how first Prime Minister of India Jawahar Lal Nehru once said if he was given an option, he would choose the job of Chancellor of Vishwabharati University over being the Prime Minister of India. Stating that he grew up in the environs of Shantiniketan, Pranab called upon the intellectuals to imbibe and implement in their Universities the spirit of universalism and pluralism that Tagore expounded. The President also said a country like India with a billion plus population had no option but to deal with the dual challenge of quantity and quality simultaneously. Governor NN Vohra moderated the discussions and informed the President about the rapid growth of higher education in the State in recent years with the establishment of many new Universities and colleges across the State. The participants of the meeting put forth several suggestions, including the need to emphasize quality of teaching and research, the importance of equipping students with required skills to enhance their employability, the inadequacy of infrastructure, resources and faculty as well as identifying core areas of excellence for each university. Among those who were present on the occasion included Prof. Abdul Wahid, Vice Chancellor, Central University of Kashmir; Dr. S. S. Bloeria, Vice Chancellor, Central University of Jammu; Prof. Talat Ahmad, Vice Chancellor, Kashmir University; Dr. Tej Partap, Vice Chancellor, Sher-e-Kashmir University of Agricultural Sciences and Technology, Kashmir; Prof. R. N. K. Bamezai, Vice Chancellor, Shri Mata Vaishno Devi University; Prof. M. P. S. Ishar, Vice Chancellor, Jammu University; Prof. A. R. Trag, Vice Chancellor, Islamic University of Science and Technology, Awantipora; Prof. D. K. Arora, Vice Chancellor, Sher-e-Kashmir University of Agricultural Sciences and Technology, Jammu; Prof. I. A. Hamal, Vice Chancellor, Baba Ghulamshah Badshah University, Rajouri; Prof. S. Wahid, Director, Institute of Kashmir Studies; Prof. Nusrat Andrabi, Former Principal, Government Women College, Srinagar; Prof. Gul Mohammad Wani, Associate Professor, Department of Political Science, Kashmir University and Prof. Fozia Qazi, Head, Department of Mathematics, Islamic University of Science and Technology, Awantipora. Earlier, Vice Chancellor of Kashmir University, Prof. Talat Ahmad presented the University report and gave resume of the academic, research and extra-curricular activities undertaken by the KU. He said during the last three years, 235 and 405 students completed their PhDs and M Phil respectively. He said the University Grants Commission has sanctioned support to nine Departments of the University under SAP while eight Departments have been recognized by Department of Science & Technology for financial support. He added that the University has entered into academic collaboration with a number of premier academic institutions within and outside the country. The President awarded gold medals and certificates to the passing out students at the convocation. The proceedings of the convocation commenced with Prof S Fayyaz Ahmad, Registrar, Kashmir University, seeking the permission of the Chancellor. Ministers, Members of Parliament, legislators, Vice Chancellors of various Universities, members of the University Council, Board of Management and Academic Council, intellectuals, prominent civil society members, senior civil and police officers, Deans, Heads of Departments, University Faculty and students were present on the occasion. Addressing the convocation, Governor NN Vohra emphasized the need for improving Gross Enrollment Ratio and making Universities and Colleges in the State as centres of excellence so that the youth passing out from these institutions are able to take a lead in making a mark in varied spheres of human endeavours at the State, national and international levels. Referring to the University of Kashmir, having been accredited as a Grade A University by the National Assessment and Accreditation Council, Mr Vohra, who is Chancellor of the University, observed that all the stakeholders need to work tirelessly so that at least 80 per cent of all the institutions of higher learning in the State secure A Grade categorization from NAAC in the next few years. He said that the Kashmir University had a very glorious history, having produced well known scholars who made a mark in various spheres. However, due to the difficult situation in the past years, the University also suffered and lost on several fronts, he said, adding that every thing possible is being done, since the past several years, for the University to regain its position and it has again started doing very well. Referring to the growth of institutions of higher learning in the State, the Governor observed that J&K is lucky to have two Farm Universities, besides seven other varsities, including two Central Universities. He called upon the youth to optimally benefit from this happy scenario and contribute to the growth and bright future for the State and the country. Addressing the convocation, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah reminded passing out students of the Kashmir University (KU) of their future responsibilities and described them as ambassadors of a brave new world confronted with manifold challenges. 'You can neither afford to rest on your laurels nor be complacent and smug. You have to be the torch bearers and flag carriers of progress,' he said adding that attaining knowledge and going through the grist and mill for it, is a notable endeavour and the ends of knowledge should be action. Mr Abdullah, who is also the Pro-Chancellor, said broader and wider aim of the passing out students should be to enhance their capacities as young leaders to improve and better the human conditions. 'As people empowered by knowledge, self transcending goals should inform and determine the trajectories of all of you. It is then that you can make a difference in today's knowledge societies where the only limits and limitations are ones set by one's imagination', he said and maintained that there are no boundaries to knowledge, no cultural differences to impede and no structural impediments that cannot be overcome. Omar said it is a brave new world where the global and the local meld rather seamlessly into each other. It is in this world that they have to step in as potential leaders and doyens, he added. 'And in this world, leadership means a blend of intuition, knowledge, imagination, a capability to discern trends in the face of complexity and to forge new pathways and knowledge through and from these. I see in each one of you here today a future role as the next wave of these pioneering leaders. Let all of you make a pledge today and affirm that you will take on the challenge that leadership in today's world entails', Omar said. 'Having been and gone through the crucible of vigorous and intense learning, you now stand empowered and enlightened. It is then incumbent upon you to share this enlightenment and empowerment and lead society into new directions. 'Let you not waiver nor develop cold feet against the challenges you will face. It is only those who confront destiny and nature that shape destiny. Let you be amongst those. 'The world is your oyster. Shape it as you like and want', he added. Felicitating the students for attaining higher educational goals, Omar said they are at the threshold and cusp of a bold and beautiful journey and destiny and they should use a cliché, 'the world now is your oyster'. This clichéd phrase, once constituting mere inspirational talk, is a reality now. This has been made possible by the advent and intensification of the current wave of globalisation where both time and space stand compressed and where new societies are forged from the detritus of old ones, he added. Mr Abdullah said the forging of these new societies has led to paradigm shifts where old shibboleths and assumptions no longer hold. It is a brave new world out there. 'The underlying premise and the soft ware of progress of this world is knowledge. We have moved from primitive to modern to knowledge societies,' he pointed out. 'The graph and trajectory of this evolution has not been linear. It has been erratic. This progression to knowledge societies has been painful and gradual. The gains made have been hard won. In these societies, change is the only constant and their defining theme is complexity. This world, unimaginable only a few decades ago, is real. Adaptation, flexibility, excellence, creativity and creative leadership are the buzzwords of this world', Mr Abdullah explained. Quoting Francis Bacon's words 'the power of knowledge or knowledge power was the aim of science to discover the knowledge of causes, the secret notion of things and enlarging the bounds of human empire, to the effecting of all things possible', the Chief Minister said Bacon summed up eloquently the nature of the quest for knowledge it was to push back frontiers, to explore and understand the secrets of the universe and the world, and attain mastery over nature. The trajectory of science and knowledge, especially over the past few centuries has precisely conformed and corresponded to this. 'The nature of the contemporary world is an eloquent testimony to this. It is a world where the creative impulse and innovation determine the success and vibrancy of societies. And it is this challenging, complex world that you are going to confront,' he said telling the students that the quest for them has not ended but it has just begun. Following is full text of the President's address to 18th convocation of Kashmir University 'This is a long awaited and proud moment for those who will receive their degrees. Some of you will receive awards for your meritorious work. I offer you all my felicitations and congratulations, he said. Although you will leave the portals of this Institution, you will henceforth be bound to it as the Alumni of a very prestigious University the University of Kashmir with a glorious tradition of intellectual and literary activity. I am told that this University, with 13 faculties in 38 teaching departments and 15 research and extension centres, offers about 150 academic programmes today. It has come a long way from its modest start in 1948. I am deeply conscious of the great standing of Kashmir as the Sharda Peeth- the 'Seat of Learning' - in ancient times. This beautiful valley has nursed in its lap great men of letters, poets and patrons of learning. It has also attracted philosophers and scholars from diverse cultures and foreign civilizations who contributed to its rich heritage. I am sure that students and faculty of the University have a sense of the rich legacy that they have inherited and will derive inspiration and benefit from it. Distinguished guests, the academic environment in India and, indeed, across the world is more exciting than ever for students of today. The IT revolution has brought infinite opportunities. It has greatly facilitated us in offering a more modern, progressive and relevant education to our students. Government of India, in its 12th Five Year Plan has a well defined strategy to achieve this. It includes expansion of infrastructure with regional equity, focus on performance, better human resource management, reform of the curriculum, promotion of quality research and creation of an environment that will attract the best talent. In Jammu and Kashmir, Government has established two Central Universities recently. I am aware that University of Kashmir is electronically linked with knowledge banks and information offered by reputed Institutions across the world. This needs to be disseminated with optimal efficiency. This is the time to shift towards increasingly interactive, and collaborative learning experiences. New technologies need to be adopted which have useful applications for teaching, learning and professional growth, improvement in the quality of our teaching and research. Universities must promote creativity and innovation. Creation of a knowledge society requires that Universities encourage autonomous research. It is equally important to have collaborations and linkages between premier institutions of higher learning in India and abroad for cross fertilization of ideas and advancement of knowledge. Distinguished guests, as I take in the beauty of Kashmir, I am compelled to prioritise the preservation of its ecology and environment in the minds of our students and researchers. This is as an area where Universities such as yours could make a great contribution for your own benefit and that of future generations. There is an urgent need to make students duly cognizant of the visible effects of climate change and the general degradation of our land, freshwater and marine resources. In Kashmir itself, a lot needs to be done to safeguard the immediate environs and to evolve an academic curriculum and research to address the challenges. I would also like to take this opportunity, while I am among the bright young people here today, to highlight the relevance and the urgent need for greater tolerance in our society. No problems are ever resolved by violence. It only aggravates the pain and the hurt on every side. The healing process must be nurtured with love, compassion and patience. Institutions of higher education, with their emphasis on sound value systems and character building can play an effective role in developing a greater sense of responsibility and a rational approach to all issues. In this context, the duty of teachers is to inculcate in their students a balance of knowledge and skills with the moral and aesthetic values. Distinguished Guests, I call upon the youth of Kashmir to take the lead in forging the future of our nation. In every field of activity be it business, industry, trade, education or culture, India is a nation on the move. A billion people marching forward led by the ideas, enterprise and energy of its predominantly young population. I am confident that the young people of India will build a strong and powerful nation - a nation that is politically mature and economically strong, a nation whose people enjoy both a high quality of life as well as justice, fundamental rights and equality. This India of tomorrow, achieved through inclusive growth, offers enormous opportunities for the youth of Kashmir if they only seize them. Do not lose any more time. The whole world is rapidly transforming itself. We in India should not be left behind. The contributions of young Kashmiris are critical for India's advancement to progress. Behind. Let a new dawn emerge. It is the time to move ahead with faith in our collective future and confidence in the largest democracy in the world, where rule of law prevails, robust institutions function and the Constitution serves as the Supreme Law. I am aware that there are grievances. Many important issues need deft handling and speedy resolution. The Government of India and the State Government of J&K are determined and duty bound to ensure that every Kashmiri lives with dignity having equal rights and equal opportunities. Let Jammu & Kashmir lead the way in the building of a new future for India. Let it set an example to the rest of India and the world by showing how the entire region can be transformed into a zone of peace, stability and prosperity. Let Jammu and Kashmir regain its historical role as a centre of learning, a place frequented by saints and religious scholars, a land known for its diversity and harmony, a fulcrum of trade and commerce with our neighbors. With these few words, I once again congratulate the scholars and students of the University of Kashmir on this important occasion as you enter a new chapter of life's lessons and experiences. May it be pleasant and rewarding. May you proceed to achieve greater distinctions and higher levels of achievement for yourselves, your proud parents and your society. I look forward to your contribution each one of you - to the building of our great nation'.