The President of India,
Shri Pranab Mukherjee conferred Honorary D. Litt on Dr. MS Swaminathan
at a special convocation of the University of Mumbai today (March 17,
2017) in Mumbai.
Speaking on the occasion, the President said it was a rare opportunity
for him to confer the Honorary D. Litt. of University of Mumbai upon Dr.
M.S. Swaminathan. The University of Mumbai, whose alumni include Mahatma
Gandhi has always recognized leaders who have played a transformational
role in various fields. Those conferred Honorary D. Litt in the past
include eminent scholars and social reformers like Sir R.G. Bhandarkar,
Dadabhai Naoroji, Sir C.V. Raman and Sir M. Visvesvaraya.
The President said Dr. Swaminathan’s work brought about a sea-change in
the life of our nation. It is due to his pioneering efforts that our
country transformed from a ship-to-mouth existence to one of the leading
producers and exporters of food grains in the world. Over a period of 65
years, Dr. Swaminathan has worked in collaboration with scientists and
policy-makers on a wide range of problems in basic and applied plant
genetics and agricultural R&D. He is considered a global scientist of
rare distinction because of the indelible mark he has made on food
production in India and elsewhere in the developing world. His advocacy
of sustainable agriculture leading to an ever-green revolution makes him
an acknowledged world leader in the field of sustainable food security.
The President said the higher education sector has a crucial role in the
national developmental effort. Being the storehouse of traditional
wisdom, as also the nursery of new knowledge, the higher education
eco-system will influence various growth centres of the economy. Growth
of the economy depends on higher education in important ways. The
quality of training provided to students employed by the economy
determines the level of its competence. Induction of quality manpower is
the first point of contact that the economy has with the higher
education system. The graduates have to meet the skill-set requirements
of the domestic economy. The course work in our campuses must be aligned
to the needs of the industry. It will be beneficial to have corporate
experts advising academic managers on industrial requirements in the
The President said the twenty-first century is expected to be an ‘Asian
century’ with the Asian countries regaining their pre-eminence in the
world through all-round development. The post Eighties’ performance of
the Asian economies is a symbol of this Asian resurgence. One of the
important elements that has guided in this journey is education and new
The President said ancient India was known for the high level of
philosophical debate and discussion it nurtured. India was not a mere
geographical expression but it reflected an idea and a culture.
Conversation and dialogue are part of our ethos and life. They cannot be
done away with. Universities and higher education institutions are the
best fora for free exchange of views. We should embrace free
conversation and even argument, leaving behind narrow mindsets and
thoughts. The lesson for a modern Indian university is to ensure that
this great tradition finds new life and vigour within its precincts.
There should be no room for intolerance, prejudice and hatred within the
spaces of our educational institutions. They must act as flag bearers
for the co-existence of multiple views, thoughts and philosophies.