Santiniketan (West Bengal), Nov 11 Addressing the annual convocation of the Visva-Bharati University as a ‘paridarshak’ (visitor), President Ram Nath Kovind said this “seat of learning” has played a glorious role in nation building. “I call this (visit to the university) a pilgrimage because the two greatest visionaries of modern India, Rabindranath Tagore (founder of the varsity), and Mahatma Gandhi, frequently met here. It is here that we all pick the threads of life and lessons of these great sages and learn from them,” he said.
Expressing his objection to allowing machines to gain predominance by relegating concerns of human well-being to the background, President Ram Nath Kovind on Monday called for exercising caution so as to weed out mindless measures which threaten to swamp the basic human concern in the name of progress.
University founded by Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore in Santiniketan in Birbhum district, Kovind said that Visva-Bharati was an oasis in the vast desert of pedagogies which saw learners as robots.
Kovind refered to Tagore’s stress not only on training the minds of the students through disciplines like philosophy, literature or history, but also to engage their souls with music, painting and fine arts.
“Given the pragmatic needs, there was space for agricultural studies too. This is why alongside Santiniketan, he gave so much importance to rural reconstruction and village welfare at Sriniketan,” the President said.
He said the university emerged as a unique blend of tradition and modernity in an age which defined machines and wealth as benchmarks of progress for societies.
“The problem arises when concerns for human well-being are relegated to the background, and when the machine is allowed to gain predominance. So, while changes for the good of humanity are always welcome, caution has to be exercised in weeding out mindless measures that may threaten to swamp that basic concern in the name of progress,” Kovind said.
Kovind also called his visit to the university a pilgrimage, as it was the frequent meeting place of the two greatest visionaries of modern India, Tagore and Mahatma Gandhi.
Recalling the unique bonding between Gandhi and Tagore, he said that it shaped modern Indian life and thought. “The Gandhi-Tagore relationship is a glorious chapter in the history of modern India,” he said.
Detailing the various occasions when the two great visionaries met in Santiniketan as also elsewhere, he said that both Tagore and Gandhi wanted to craft a philosophy of life, and found the ideal template in the ashrams of ancient India.
A total of 4,750 students were given Ph.D, post graduate and graduate degrees at the convocation ceremony.