Voicing his anguish over the alarming spiral in incidents of crime against women across the country, President Pranab Mukherjee on Sunday stressed on the need to respect women and proper education as a key to the process of nation building.
Speaking on the occasion of the seventh Vidyasagar Memorial Lecture at the Vidyasagar University in West Midnapore on Sunday, the President recalled the lifelong dedication and efforts of Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar to bring educational and social reform and said the country can’t progress till women find their rightful place in society.
The state too has been in the news recently over a perceived spurt in incidents of sexual crime against women, with even the intellectual fraternity taking to the streets and voicing the sense of outrage and concern over the spiralling crime graph and lax security for women across the state.
Recalling the ef forts of Vidyasagar as a key driver of social reform, the President said, “He (Vidyasagar) didn’t care much about religious and social dogma and worked sincerely to bring the changes that he believed in. However, the values that he sought to instil in the society don’t seem to reflect on the generations of today. What we need is a sincerity of purpose, honesty in life and respect for all. All women should be accorded due respect and treated with dignity.
“Though our Constitution guarantees equality for all, it won’t reflect in practice till such time the society as a whole starts to assert itself. There may be obstacles, but if you set out with an honest purpose, you can win.”
The President called on the youths to lead the change and be the key drivers of the effort to overcome the problem of degradation and decadence pervading all levels of society.
“Each one of us has an obligation to the society. It is the urge to reform the society that should motivate us all to seek education,” the President said.
Before arriving at varsity to the deliver the ceremonial lecture, the President paid a brief visit to Ghatal and inaugurated the new building of a local school named after Vidyasagar. Speaking at the event, the President said, “Proper education is the key to the nation building process.”
He said the nation is teeming with talent, but has yet to achieve the potential that she aspires to. He said with the obvious talent and capable teachers to guide young minds, the country could break further grounds in the field of education.
“India has for ages been the dominant force in the field of education and the tradition could be traced to the ancient times, when such centres as Nalanda and Taxila drew learners from across the globe. We currently have about 1669 institutions awarding degrees and an estimated 33,000 colleges across the country.
“The 11th five-year plan had pledged budgetary allocations for eight more IITs and 15 NITs (National Institutes of Technology). But, not a single IIT or university has found its place among the top 200 centres of learning across the globe.
Even universities from Hong Kong and Saudi Arabia rank among the top 200. Why can’t ours?” the President said.
“While the government has an obligation towards the citizens and needs to heed the call of protesters crying for change, it could do little to set right the moral compass that has sadly gone awry.
“The onus is on the people and the society at large to bring reform. This is need of the hour if we wish to overcome the problems plaguing the contemporary society,” the President said.