“There should be no room for intolerance, prejudice and hatred within the spaces of our educational institutions. They must act as flag bearers for the co-existence of multiple views, thoughts and philosophies,” said President Pranab Mukherjee on Friday.
He said, “Ancient India was known for the high level of philosophical debate and discussion it nurtured. Conversation and dialogue are part of our ethos and life. They cannot be done away with. Universities and higher education institutions are the best for a free exchange of views.”
The statements come in the wake of recent conflict between student groups at Delhi University’s Ramjas College. The row erupted after JNU students Umar Khalid and Shehla Rashid were invited to speak at a literary seminar in Ramjas College. Khalid was arrested last year and booked for sedition for organising a rally on the JNU campus. Rashid was the then vice-president of the JNU students’ union. Both the speakers were dropped from the event after the college students’ union opposed their participation, leading to violence on the campus.
The President invoked Mahatma Gandhi in an effort to push for more tolerance on the college campuses. “I do not want my house to be walled in on all sides and my windows to be stuffed. I want the cultures of all the lands to be blown about my house as freely as possible. But I refuse to be blown off my feet by any,” he said quoting Gandhi.
Mukherjee was speaking at a special convocation to award genetic scientist MS Swaminathan an honourary doctorate of laws (DLL). Swaminathan is known as the father of green revolution in India for his contribution in developing high yielding varieties of wheat.