It gives me great
pleasure to be present at this Convocation ceremony of the University of
Mumbai. This institution is truly the fountainhead of higher education
in India. It was founded in 1857 along with the Universities of
erstwhile Madras and Kolkata, and had a key role in nurturing a number
of leaders who led India to its independence.
This University has been the alma mater of Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar,
Mahadev Govind Ranade, Ramkrishna Gopal Bhandarkar, Mangesh Wagle, Waman
Abaji Modak and the matriculating institution for the Father of our
nation, Mahatma Gandhi. Today, each one of you students who are
graduating join a band of great leaders and academicians who have
graduated from this prestigious University. My heartiest congratulations
to all of you. You fulfill this day not just your dreams but also the
dreams of your parents, your family and your teachers.
The University of Mumbai has been blessed by various philanthropists and
benefactors who contributed to this Heritage Convocation Hall with its
remarkable and ageless grandeur. Its stained glass work and its arches
mutely exude beauty and enhance the awe that knowledge should rightly
evoke amongst all of us present. I believe the Fort Campus is amongst
the world’s most beautiful campuses of its kind. This exemplifies the
University’s dedication to history and tradition in all its forms.
Over the years the University has shown deep commitment to being a
mother institution to its hundreds of affiliated institutions and
colleges. It has shown remarkable ability to help found and develop and
even grant autonomy to illustrious institutions such as Veermata Jijabai
Technological Institute, St Xavier’s College, S.P. College of
Engineering and a group of Colleges under Somaiya Trust. Its own
department, the Institute of Chemical Technology is now a deemed
As the City of Mumbai sought to create learning environments in
neighbourhoods, the University of Mumbai has reached out and done its
duty with poise and alacrity.
Today there are over 667 affiliated colleges and institutions it
oversees and over 6.5 lakh students on its rolls. It also has 57
Departments covering a breadth of subjects ranging from Humanities,
Technology, Management, Commerce, Law and more.
As Mumbai has grown, so has the University of Mumbai. It has campuses
and sub-campuses from the Konkan coast to the teeming Mumbai
Metropolitan expanse and reaching hinterland Thane district. This has
enabled the University of Mumbai enroll and provide access to both urban
and rural citizens.
University of Mumbai has a glorious history and must rededicate itself
to the building of India’s future. With India’s youth seeking education
and productive roles in society, it is even more critical that
Universities reinvent themselves to deliver relevant knowledge and
The father of our Nation, Mahatma Gandhi has said, “Real education
consists in drawing the best out of yourself. What better book can there
be than the book of humanity?” Today when our youth face moral dilemmas,
caught as they are between traditional values and western culture,
Bapu’s exhortation to follow the book of humanity can set many doubts at
rest. Once we imbibe the book of humanity, many of the divisions and
conflicts in society will meet their end.
For India to sit at the high table of global powers, it has to prepare
its youth for an ever-shrinking world that shares resources as well as
responsibilities through being knowledgeable, capable and sensitive to
environmental and social issues.
Universities will need to reinvent themselves as enablers of society
rather than gatekeepers of higher education. The youth of our nation
should be empowered to take our great nation, forward in leaps and
I am happy to note that the University of Mumbai has maintained a focus
on new technologies and cutting edge thinking. It has started new
centres such as the Centre for Nanotechnology and also new international
collaborations in the area of sustainable development technologies and
approaches. More and more such initiatives are needed for the developing
world to understand each other and their special capabilities, creating
space for new thinking in climate change and sustainability.
As you stand here after being granted degrees and honours, I would like
to remind you that the purpose of education is not a good job or income
but using the knowledge you have acquired in the service of the nation
and mankind. I sincerely hope that all of you will show the utmost zeal
and love for humankind so that a better world can be gifted to our
In the age of smart phones and tablet computers, ideas now travel at the
speed of thought. It is important for us to remain up to date with what
is happening in the world. I am very happy to know that the University
of Mumbai has introduced far-reaching changes in its examination
technology through bar coding and use of communication technology to
improve the processes.
The day is not far when we will see the emergence of a higher education
system based on a seamless network of knowledge and learning as well as
assessments of skill. This will mean the teaching and learning
environment will have to radically change.
Delivering lectures and presenting thought through written material is
going to be ancillary to creating learning environments. Professors,
Lecturers and Teachers will emerge as facilitators of thought through
multiple technology platforms and pathways. This means even the teaching
fraternity will have relearn, reengage and retrain themselves for the
At the same time, they must keep in mind the words of Mahatma Gandhi,
while speaking to students at Sevagram in 1942 “A teacher who
establishes rapport with the taught, becomes one with them, learns more
from them than he teaches them. A true teacher regards himself as a
student of his students. If you will teach your pupils with this
attitude, you will benefit much from them.”
I call upon the City of Mumbai and the Government of Maharashtra to be
more proactive in preparing and providing for this new future. Just as a
few good men stepped up and helped build this university by supporting
its construction and development in its early years, the State of
Maharashtra and citizens of Mumbai will need to come up with ways and
means to enable greater funding and partnerships with industry houses,
other universities and central government bodies.
India has shown itself to be a secular, diverse and pluralistic society
which is able to deal with change, challenges and aspirations over the
last few decades. This is only due to its abiding faith and belief in
education. India’s future and that of the world it hopes to lead, as a
great and powerful nation, is in the hands of its youth. The demographic
dividend of its youth can only be reaped through universities and
institutions that commit themselves to delivering distributed learning
environments. Every aspiring student should find the university reaching
him and not the other way around!!!
In conclusion, let me remind you of what Swami Vivekananda said on the
role and relevance of education. He said, “The education which does not
help the common mass of people to equip themselves for the struggle of
life, which does not bring out the strength of character, a spirit of
philanthropy, and the courage of a lion -- is it worth the name?” We
need to reflect on his profound words and re-orient our thinking and
approach towards education.
All of you graduates of the University of Mumbai are a living tribute to
the faculty, staff and students who have, over the years, worked
selflessly to bring the University to its present position of
pre-eminence. I congratulate all the students on whom the University has
conferred diplomas, degrees and certificates. This occasion is a
reaffirmation that you have imbibed the knowledge and skills to face the
I urge you to stride onto your paths in life with a positive attitude
and strong spirit. Besides training and education, what will keep you in
good stead is strength of character, strength of mind and strength of
purpose. I would like you to remember that what you do with knowledge is
always up to you, but knowledge used in the service of the nation and
mankind is always closer to God’s intention.
I wish the University of Mumbai all the best in its endeavors and urge
it to do its utmost to become a world class institution.