Debate topics don't create unrest: Prez to students

Debate topics don't create unrest: Prez to students

Varsities must resound with creativity, says Pranab

Debate topics don't create unrest: Prez to students
President Pranab Mukherjee on Thursday said there must be space for legitimate criticism and dissent, apparently alluding to the current unrest in Delhi colleges.

He said those in universities must engage in reasoned discussion and debate rather than propagate a culture of unrest. “These temples of learning must resound with creativity and free thinking. It is tragic to see them caught in the vortex of violence and disquiet,” he said, delivering the 6th K S Rajamony Memorial Lecture in Kochi.

Referring to Nalanda and Takshashila as “not mere geographical expressions but representations for the idea of free thought”, the President said premier institutions of higher education were vehicles on which India had to propel itself into a knowledge society.

Mukherjee said there should be no room in India for the intolerant Indian. “India has been, since ancient times, a bastion of free thought, speech and expression. Freedom of speech and expression is one of the most important fundamental rights guaranteed by our Constitution,” he said.

Mukherjee, however, underscored that the time has also come for collective efforts to rediscover the sense of national purpose and patriotism “that alone can lift our nation on to the road of sustained progress and prosperity. The nation and the people must always come first...Let us exert ourselves to strengthen India’s pluralism and diversity. Let us be uncompromising in rooting out violence, prejudice and hatred.”

If there is an “aberration” that curtails free thinking and free exchange of views, it’s the responsibility of the society to correct it, he said.

The President also said leaders and political activists must listen to the people, engage with them, learn from them and respond to their needs and concerns.

Mukherjee noted that “no one who holds any elected office has been invited by the voters to occupy that office. Each one has gone to the voters and pleaded for their votes and support.”