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New Delhi : Students coming from all parts of India and from all strata of society study in Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) in an atmosphere of equal opportunity for excellence. Students aspiring for very different career paths come together at JNU. The University represents blending of inclusion, diversity, and excellence, said the President of India Ram Nath Kovind while addressing the 4th annual convocation of JNU on November 18, 2020, through a video message.

The President said that all shades of Indian culture are reflected in JNU. Names of buildings, hostels, roads, and facilities on the campus are drawn from the Indian heritage. This represents a cultural and geographical picture of India at its best. This Indianness is JNU’s legacy and strengthening it is its duty.

The President said that excellent faculty of JNU have been encouraging free debate and respect for difference in opinion. Students are treated as partners in learning which is how it should be in higher education. The University is known for vibrant discussions which also take place outside the classrooms, in the cafeterias, and dhabas at all hours.

Referring to the glorious past of teaching and research in ancient India, the President said that in dealing with today’s challenges, we can draw inspiration from universities in Takshashila, Nalanda, Vikramshila, and Vallabhi, which had set high standards of teaching and research. Scholars and students from all across the world came to those centres to attain specialised knowledge.

That ancient system, which had many elements of modernity, produced great scholars such as Charaka, Aryabhata, Chanakya, Panini, Patanjali, Gargi, Maitreyi and Thiruvalluvar. They made invaluable contributions to medical science, mathematics, astronomy, grammar and social development. People from other parts of the world translated the works of Indian scholars and used the learning for further advancement of knowledge. Today’s Indian scholars should try to create such an original body of knowledge which is utilised for dealing with contemporary global challenges. JNU is among those select institutions of higher learning which can reach globally comparable excellence, he said, according to a PIB release.

Speaking about the Covid-19 pandemic, the President said that today the world is in a state of crisis because of this pandemic. In the prevailing scenario of epidemics and pandemics, the National Education Policy 2020 states that it is critical for Higher Education Institutions to take the lead in undertaking research in areas of infectious diseases, epidemiology, virology, diagnostics, instrumentation, vaccinology and other relevant areas. The related social issues also need to be studied, preferably with multi-disciplinary approach. In this endeavour, universities like JNU should be at the forefront to develop specific handholding mechanism and promote innovation among student communities, he added.