President Pranab Mukherjee on Monday turned out to be an instant hit among the top academicians and students as he struck a emotional chord while receiving an honorary law degree from the prestigious Dhaka University.
Mukherjee recalled his "roots in the soil of Bengal" and his
wife's links with Bangladesh.
On his maiden overseas trip to Dhaka, Mukherjee received a standing ovation by an estimated 10,000 plus audience as he took centre stage to receive an honorary law degree from Dhaka University at a convocation in the campus.
Mukherjee's speech after accepting the degree from what he termed as "the Oxford of the East" was replete with references to his love for Bengal's literature and landscape.
Mukherjee also praised Bangladesh's effort in forging ahead of many countries in terms of human development indices.
77-year-old Mukherjee began by saying that his first foreign visit as President of India was "an emotional journey" as "I have my roots firmly in the soil of Bengal and have imbibed its language, traditions and culture".
He then recalled that his wife Shuvra was born in Narail in northern Bangladesh and began her education there and the audience responded with lusty clapping.
The President also pointed to the cultural links between West Bengal and Bangladesh and said "I have grown up reading the compositions of the same poets as you, listening to the same songs which both our people love and walked along the banks of the same rivers which inspire the folk songs that make us all similarly wistful."
Mukherjee reeled off a number of names like architect of Bangladesh's independence Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, Indian scientists Satyendranath Bose, Ramesh Chandra Majumdar, Indian writer Buddhadeb Basu and Bangladeshi authors Humayun Ahmed and Shamsur Rahman.
Mukherjee said "when I was a child, I never dreamt that one day I would come here as the President of my country."
The President drew another round of applause when he mentioned the pioneering role played Dhaka University in the independence struggle of Bangladesh, by pointing out that the national flag was hoisted for the first time in the campus and that Pakistani army began its brutal crackdown during the liberation war in 1971 in the University itself.