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Naidu urges students to debate, discuss and dissent but not 'disrupt'

Naidu urges students to debate, discuss and dissent but not 'disrupt'
Patriotism and nationalism were the need of the hour, the vice president said. (Image Credit: Twitter)

Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu Monday urged students to debate, discuss and dissent but not "disrupt", even as he questioned the events held to observe the death anniversary of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru.

Patriotism and nationalism were the need of the hour, the vice president said.

He added that patriotism did not mean garlanding Bharat Mata and saying "Bharat Mata ki Jai" but it meant celebrating one's countrymen and not discriminating against anyone on the basis of caste and religion.

Speaking at the 95th convocation of the Delhi University, Naidu made a reference to a controversial event held at the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) in 2016 to protest against Afzal Guru's hanging, during which anti-national slogans were allegedly raised.

"We must also care for the unity and integrity of the country...Some people debate -- I have freedom, I will do this, I will do that. I will celebrate this man, Afzal Guru. We have no problems in celebrating anybody, but if you want to celebrate someone who wants to destroy Parliament, someone who wants to attack the Constitution, is it a celebration?" Naidu asked the gathering.

Naidu, who is also the Rajya Sabha chairman, stressed that for a successful democracy, rules and regulations were important.

"Dissent is agreeable but not disintegration. You have no right to attack the integrity of the country. The debate, discuss, dissent, not disrupt. This applies to parliamentarians also. I tell the House (Rajya Sabha) to discuss, debate and decide. Do not disrupt. Be constructive, not destructive. Unite, not divide," he said.

The vice president added that he had always heard a lot about Delhi University and wanted to study there when he was young, but due to some circumstances, he could not.

"Since childhood, I had read and heard a lot about DU. I had a wish to study in DU but that wish could not come true. My father passed away when I was at an early age. My family members did not want to send me far away.

"But I got an opportunity to become the chancellor of the university where I wanted to study," Naidu told the students, who broke into an applause.

He also expressed happiness at the fact that "women comprise a good percentage of the student population in the University of Delhi".

It was important that young women, particularly those belonging to marginal sections, gained an increased access to the portals of colleges and universities, Naidu said, adding that women's empowerment through education would have a positive impact on the society and on the future generations.

India today stood at the cusp of an incredible demographic dividend, he said, adding that 65 per cent of its population was below 35 years of age.

"But this prospective demographic dividend can rapidly mutate into a demographic challenge if we do not educate and skill this vast youth population appropriately if we are unable to exploit their immense potential efficiently. The responsibility to mould these young people into productive, enlightened citizens lies with universities such as this one (DU). India's aim is inclusive and sustainable development," the vice president said.

The path to reach this goal had to be paved by the enterprising, intelligent and resourceful youth of the country, who were well educated and capable of leading the country forward, he added.

Naidu expressed concern that the number of educational institutions had not led to a corresponding improvement in the quality of education imparted in the country.

"We do produce a large number of graduates and other degree holders, but how many of them are well-rounded, employable individuals, capable of critical, rational thinking? How many of them are equipped enough to deal with the kind of fast-paced changes that are happening in the world around?

"There is a need to re-imagine and re-engineer our entire education system, top-down and bottom-up. There has to be a change in the curriculum, teaching methodology, examination system, technology tools used and research," Naidu asserted.

Our current system of education failed to recognise the innate potential that existed within each student and nurture and develop these unique qualities and capabilities, he said.

"This 'one-size-fits-all' approach got us so far, but will not take us any further. We have to encourage our young people to be curious, to ask questions and to think independently. We cannot keep forcing the same syllabus on a student who excels in science and a student who is a savant in music," the vice president added.

It was also a cause of concern that very little original research was coming out of India, he said.

For a country as vast and diverse as India facing problems ranging from poverty to environmental degradation, innovation was not a luxury but an urgent necessity, the vice president said.

(With inputs from agencies.)

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