Prez hails Madras varsity as 'model' for country

Prez hails Madras varsity as 'model' for country

President Ram Nath Kovind presents a certificate during the post-centenary Diamond Jubilee convocation of University of Madras in Chennai on Saturday. PTI Photo

President Ram Nath Kovind on Saturday hailed the University of Madras as a "model" for the country, saying it was institutions such as these that people turned to for direction and leadership.

Delivering the 160th convocation address at the prestigious Madras University here, he said, "Our country is seeking to meet opportunities as well as challenges of the fourth industrial revolution of robotics, genomics and artificial intelligence".

"It is institutions such as these that we turn to for direction and leadership at the beginning of the 21st century. This is an exciting chapter for India," he said.

The president said no other university in the country could boast of the fact that six former presidents had studied in the varsity.

"S Radhakrishnan, V V Giri, Neelam Sanjeeva Reddy, R Venkataraman, K R Narayanan and A P J Abdul Kalam all studied here before eventually graduating to the highest office in Rashtrapati Bhavan," Kovind said, adding the first governor-general C Rajagopalachari was also an alumnus of the premier university.

Noting that Tamil Nadu has a proud culture of research and innovation in pure science, medicine, engineering and manufacturing, he said, "The state has a well regarded IT sector and a growing digital economy".

"These are complemented by excellence in humanities. It is no surprise that the Tamil language is among the most ancient in the world," Kovind said after presenting degrees to the new graduands.

Paying rich encomiums to the university, popularly known as 'Mother of Universities' in the southern region, the president said, "It is truly a monumental institution".

He said the ability of the University of Madras to incorporate change while keeping basic values intact helped it stay contemporary and relevant to emerging needs of students and society.

Stressing the need to aspire to the next level, the president said the university should benchmark itself against the best in the world and continue to remain competitive for top students and faculty.

Referring to the Centre's programme to promote excellence in higher education by building capacities of 20 institutions of eminence, Kovind said, "I am told the University of Madras has prepared an ambitious and detailed plan in this regard. I wish you all the best".

The president also invited the graduates and their parents to visit the Rashtrapati Bhavan.

Later, Kovind presided over the graduation day of Guru Nanak College here and inaugurated the Guru Amar Das block and Shaheed Baba Deep Singh auditorium.

Pointing out that one-third of the graduates were girls, he said, "By educating a daughter, we educate not one but two families".

Lauding the college for its 'langar' kitchen that provided free meals to 700 students daily, he said,"Tamil Nadu is the state that gave India the idea of mid-day meal programme in schools".

However, a mid-day meal at the college-level is unique, the president added.