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It is imperative that institutions safeguard and nurture the culture of tolerance: Governor C Vidyasagar Rao

The Fergussonians (Alumni of Fergusson college) presented Fergusson Gaurav and Fergusson Abhiman Awards on May 29, in the presence of Governor C Vidyasagar Rao, marking their 10th award ceremony of their 71-year-old foundation.

pune Updated: May 30, 2017 14:40 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Pune
Fergusson College,C Vidyasagar Rao,Madhav Godbole
The Awardees at Fergusson College, Pune. (Ravindra Joshi/HTPHOTO)

Monday, May 29, marked the 10th Award ceremony of The Fergussonians, alumni of Fergusson College, Pune (one of India’s oldest colleges). A 72-year-old alumni organisation, the Fergussonians through this event felicitate fellow Fergussonians, whose achievements are out-of-the-ordinary in their respective fields.

Governor C Vidyasagar Rao present at the event stated, “It is easy to form a foundation but to nurture and sustain it is an achievement. And, this incredible feta has been achieved by The Fergussonians’ for 71 years. I am pleased to see the exemplary awards. If Savitribai Phule Pune University is the pride of Maharashtra, then Fergusson college is the pride of Pune. this 130-year-old institution is probably the only one which can boast of such brilliant alumni. It has been a cradle of liberal progressive thinking and this tradition needs to be preserved and further strengthened. It is imperative that institutions safeguard and nurture the culture of tolerance openness and freedom of speech and debate. They need to respect diversity of thoughts. Violence and coercion have no place on campus. Pune university and Fergusson college needs to should show leadership to other institutions in this regard.”

He further proposed the idea of Gurukul dakshina. The process in which alumni should give back to institution for all the experiences and training given to them. He shared, “It is a common trend in American universities.In 2015 an amount of 37 billion dollars was recorded as alumni endowment donations to universities in Amercian, Harvard topped the list.”

This year, the Fergusson Gaurav award was presented to Dr Madhav Godbole for his exemplary work as chairman of several committees. This particular honour has been earlier conferred to former prime ministers late VP Singh and late PV Narsimharao, professor Ram Takawale former VC Pune University and Padma Vibhushan Dr Prabha Atre among others. Godbole expressed his delight of receiving an award at this age. “The scholarships, unbelievable example of simple living, humility and life sacrifices which the live members of this institution represent has enthused me all these years.

When I look back at the rapidly changing life, we have come a full circle from globalisation leading to realising the world is a village and to now a journey to de-globalisation and highly troubling religious conflicts and sectarian divides. India cannot remain untouched by these influences. So, how do you cope up with this unsettling changes? It was way back in 1964, DS Kothari, high level education commissioner, appointed by government of India had recommend that a tolerant study of the best teachings of all religions should be incorporated in the education syllabi from secondary to first degree level courses of this country. There is no other time to do so than now.” Godbole further added, “If India has to make a mark it has to assert itself not by military power but by soft power which Indian has in abundance. It is a multi-religious, cultural, lingual, racial and ethnic society. India is a unique mosaic in the world and with value-based education India will have an opportunity to show to the troubled world a society in peace with itself engaged in constructive tasks. We must cease this opportunity now.”

The Fergusson Abhiman award was presented to Second Lt late Rishi Malhotra (Kirti Chakra, posthumously), Padmashri Lila Poonawala, professor Suresh Patankar and Mahesh Kale, Hindustani Classical singer. Chairman, The Fergussonians, advocate Vijay Sawant shared, “The highlight this year is definitely the posthumous award conferred on second Lt late Rishi Malhotra, received by parents Ashok and Prem Malhotra. His journey from being commissioned in the forces and fighting against terrorists to giving up his life for our country, all within six months and at the age of 23 is exceptional. He deserves all this and more.”

Padmashri Lila Poonawala is proud to be associated with one of the oldest and most popular institutions of the country. She says, “Getting an award from your alma mater is a joy one cannot compare or express. I am proud to be a part of this iconic institution. I would cycle my way to reach college and I am happy I did so.”

The members of the alumni group also felicitated their president YD Mehendale for his support and contribution in the past 50 years.

(Photographs by Ravindra Joshi)

First Published: May 29, 2017 12:00 IST