Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said the professors of the IGNOU are like Lord Hanuman, who was unaware of the powers he possessed, and asserted that their work needs to be celebrated.
He also said whatever the IGNOU has been doing since its inception in 1985 has now become the National Education Policy and is being implemented across the country.
He made these remarks while addressing the 35th convocation of the Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) here. A total of 2,91,586 students, the highest ever, received their degrees and diploma certificates at the convocation ceremony.
”I am here as a student — a student is a mental state, a condition, it is a mindset. Wherever, whomever, whatsoever, if you are open to learn, you are a student,” the minister said in his address.
Pradhan said he was a student leader and has now become the education minister. Recalling his time as a student, he said in the late 1980s and early 1990s, there were protests against the Mandal Commission report and no convocation was held.
He said he always wished that he should have also got his degree at a convocation ceremony.
Speaking about a recent row over the recital of Hanuman Chalisa, Pradhan said, ”In our country, tolerance is spoken about and written about. Sometimes, we also receive suggestions on it from abroad. But I feel that it is in-built in our democracy.” He said all the IGNOU professors, including those associated with the university’s regional centres across the country, possess the qualities of the ”Anjani Putra” (Lord Hanuman).
”Hanuman is known to have saved society and being the voice of the adivasis. He did not realise the kind of powers he possessed and sometimes, he had to be told about his immense powers. You are Hanuman. You do not realise what you have done. Let us celebrate what you have done,” the minister said. He urged the degree-holders to share a minute-long testimonial about the university on Facebook. Pradhan said the 21st century is the century of knowledge. ”If we want to establish India as a knowledge-based economic superpower, we must ensure a paradigm shift in our education landscape,” he said. He said NEP2020 is a step towards transforming our education and skills’ landscape.
The minister said technology is the new equaliser. ”We must ensure empowerment of our population through innovation, especially those at the bottom of the pyramid and also ensure that education reaches the unreached,” he added. He said Digital University and other e-learning initiatives are steps in that direction.
Pradhan said, ”We have to tap our civilisational wealth and also the immense potential of our Indian knowledge system to make our education system more holistic, empathetic and for global good in line with the spirit of Vasudhaiv Kutumbukam.” He said leveraging upon technology, innovation, internet and digital, IGNOU must endeavour to further enlarge the canvas of education, strengthen the e-content architecture and emerge as a benchmark knowledge centre of the world. IGNOU has to lead the ‘Renaissance of Knowledge.
The minister launched the initiative of the University to deliver degrees using Block-chain Technology developed with support of IIT Kanpur. The university conferred 60,570 students with Blockchain-Based Digital Degrees at the Convocation. The Block-chain backed distribution of degrees will ensure faster submission and authentication of academic documents.
Prof. Nageshwar Rao, Vice-Chancellor IGNOU, said in his address that IGNOU has been striving to realize its mandate of inclusion, democratization and quality in higher education.
The Vice-Chancellor said that IGNOU has been working on Multidisciplinary and Holistic Education as envisaged in NEP 2020 and that a special cell has been created at the University for the implementation of the recommendations of NEP 2020. Rao also shared that the university has been chosen as the modal centre for the National Mission on Education through Information and Communication Technology.
The Convocation function was conducted simultaneously at 32 Regional Centers of the University across the country while the main function was held at the University headquarters.