The Vice President of India, Shri. M. Venkaiah Naidu has said that the students and young people should imbibe ethical values and always remain committed to high morals. They have to strive to preserve culture and protect nature to ensure a better future for the country, he added. He was addressing the gathering at the birth centenary celebrations of Fr. Theo Mathias SJ, the founder Principal of the Andhra Loyola College, Vijayawada, Andhra Pradesh today.
Applauding Fr. Mathias’s missionary zeal and relentless hard work that led to the birth of the Andhra Loyola College, the Vice President said that Fr. Mathias had conquered the hearts and minds of the Telugu people by the breadth of his vision and the depth of his commitment.
Stating that great institutions do not thrive only on rules but also customs, traditions and practices, the Vice President expressed his appreciation for the customs of punctuality, discipline, respect and devotion to duty established by Fr. Mathias which flourished in the great institution to this day.
Shri Naidu spoke about the challenges of higher education such as shortage of funds, dearth of qualified teachers, infrastructure deficits, issues related to quality and equity and said that a lot needs to be done post implementation of the Right to Education Act to strengthen India’s education sector.
The Vice President said that India’s aim is inclusive and sustainable development and added that the path to reach this goal has to be cemented by the youth of the country who are inventive, intelligent and ingenious.
Shri Naidu said that India should not be pulled back to the dark ages by abhorrent social practices such as caste discrimination, violence, bigotry and prejudice. He urged the youth of the country to break free from all such social evils, imbibe new and progressive values.
Affirming that India has always been a country firmly rooted in secularism, and values of tolerance, acceptance and peace, the Vice President implored the youth to always have the first and foremost allegiance to the timeless constitutional values of the country. The commitment to the constitution, to your fellow human beings and the unity and integrity of the nation, is the essence of true nationalism, of true patriotism, he added
Shri Naidu opined that there is also a need to abandon the ‘colonial mind-set’ and encourage talent, skills and craftsmanship inherently present in every Indian
The Vice President said that we live in a very complicated world where falsehoods get mixed up with the truth. He added that the changing media landscape and the profusion of new social media were making it all the more challenging to make right decisions and to find the right answers to pressing problems.
He said that under such circumstances, in addition to knowledge, skill and competence, young people should also be in possession of a strong moral compass that would help guide them through these ethical dilemmas of the new world which they would face in the course of their careers and personal lives. We need knowledge, but also wisdom, he added.
He also stressed on the need to make moral science a mandatory subject in educational institutions and on the need to create awareness on environmental sustainability among the youth.
Following is the text of Vice President’s address:
“I am very happy to be here today on the auspicious occasion of the birth centenary celebrations of Father Theo Mathias SJ, the founder principal of the Andhra Loyola College.
This institution is the personification of Father Mathias’s vision and mission. It owes its current stature to the dedicated missionary’s hard work, his commitment and his prayers.
I understand that the prefix ‘Andhra’ to the name of the College has its own historical resonance. The College was established when there was a roaring demand from the Telugu-speaking people of the then Madras State for a separate State for themselves, which was fructified with the formation of a separate Andhra state, the first linguistic State in India.
I am told that Fr Theo Mathias set his foot for the first time on the soil of Andhra Loyola College, on the occasion of its Foundation Stone laying ceremony in 1953. He was then the Principal of Loyola College, Madras.
At a very young age of 35 years, he was tasked to shoulder the responsibility of building and running the Andhra Loyola College at Vijayawada. He worked with meticulous plan, missionary zeal and unparalleled hard-work, hoping that he would open a new glorious chapter in the educational history of the newly formed State of Andhra.
In no time, he established yet another venerable Jesuit Educational Institution, the name of which would be written in Golden Letters in the annals of higher education of the Telugu land.
Fr Theo Mathias did a commendable job and created a niche for himself in the hearts and minds of the Telugu people by his breadth of vision and depth of commitment and Andhra Loyola College became the brand name of higher education in the State of Andhra.
During his five years as the Principal of Andhra Loyola College, he had made it as yet another best Jesuit Higher Education Institution in India. The facts speak for themselves: the strength of the students in the first year was 368 and in the last year of his tenure as the principal, it was 1365.
Great institutions do not thrive only on rules. Their customs, traditions and practices, in fact, play a great role in their success. I am pleased to learn that the traditions of punctuality, discipline, respect and devotion to duty instituted by the great priest himself still survive and flourish in this temple of learning
Now, after more than six decades, Andhra Loyola College continues to be the synonym of qualitative Collegiate Education in both the Telugu States.
It is heartening to note that Rev Fr.Theo Mathias also served as an ambassador of India’s great tradition of learning, knowledge and wisdom when he was chosen as the Special Indian Delegate to address the United Nations General Assembly in 1975 and 1976.
His abilities were so impressive that permission of the Superior General of the Society of Jesus was sought to nominate him as a Member of Rajya Sabha and make use of his services in the Department of Education, Government of India.
The College which was started, shaped and nurtured by Fr Theo Mathias grew in strength and status. Today, it is able to face many challenges confronting higher education and has got many a feather in its cap.
As we celebrate the Birth Centenary of this noble soul, may Andhra Loyola College ever remain faithful to the vision with which he founded it, scaling ever greater heights to the benefit of its own students and the society at large.
My dear young friends,
India has undertaken a long and arduous, yet rewarding journey in the field of education, from the “Guru –Shishya parampara” of learning under the shadow of a tree in the ancient times, to becoming the third largest in the world in the field of higher education, next to the United States and China.
India now boasts of having more than 33,000 colleges and 659 universities.
Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) is the largest university in the world, educating over 3 million students across the globe.
The world has realized that the economic success of any nation is directly determined by their education systems. Education is a Nation’s power. A developed nation is, without doubt, an educated and enlightened nation.
India today stands at the cusp of an incredible demographic dividend. 65% of its population is below 35 years of age. But in order to reap this dividend, we have to educate and skill this vast youth population appropriately.
The responsibility to mould these young people into productive, enlightened citizens lies with the higher education system of the country, with colleges like the Andhra Loyola College.
India’s aim is inclusive and sustainable development. The path to reach this goal has to be cemented by the youth of the country who are inventive, intelligent and ingenious.
Higher education is now facing new challenges, both nationally and internationally. During the last few decades, there has been a massive jump in the number of colleges and universities in our country. But we have to keep asking ourselves if the burgeoning number of institutions an effective proxy for the strength of higher education system.
In spite of being home to several institutions of eminence such as the IITs and IIMs, Indian universities have been unable to secure places in the top 100 best universities in the World University Rankings.
Our universities face several problems from the shortage of funds to a highly skewed teacher to student ratio to a severe infrastructure deficit.
There is also a dearth of qualified teachers and professors. The proliferation of more rewarding career opportunities and lack of adequate facilities for post graduate education has created a staff crunch in our centres of higher education.
India has always been a nation of great teachers. We were in fact the Vishwaguru, the teacher to the whole world. The best of our practitioners, the most resourceful of our managers, the most intelligent of our scientists and the most versatile of our philosophers and thinkers often chose to teach and propagate their knowledge and share their experience. We also need to give up ‘colonial mindset’ and encourage the talent, skills and craftsmanship inherently present in every Indian.
We must once again make the profession of teaching attractive and rewarding so that the best of our minds take up teaching, mentoring and instructing our youngsters.
Equity in higher education is also a major concern. The gross enrolment ratio varies greatly among different sections of the society. The disparity is even higher when it comes to male and female enrolment numbers.
The Right to Education has indeed revolutionized our education scenario, but much more needs to be done when it comes to higher education to make sure that no worthy student is left behind.
I am happy to note that this institution places special emphasis on inclusive education by providing education to the socially and economically marginalized students on an equal platform.
My dear young friends,
India is at a juncture in its history when it cannot be pulled back to the dark ages by abhorrent social practices such as discrimination, bigotry and prejudice.
Unfortunately, we see a number of untoward incidents of violence and discrimination around us today along the line of caste and community. It is up to the youth of the country to break free from all such social evils, imbibe new and progressive values and build a better tomorrow.
India has always been a country firmly rooted in secularism, and values of tolerance, acceptance and peace. We are and always have been a strong, vibrant flourishing democracy where the real power, the ultimate authority lies within the common people.
Today, I implore you to have the first and foremost allegiance to the constitutional values of the country, those timeless ideals that have brought our country to the position that it is at today.
This commitment to the constitution, to your fellow human beings and the unity and integrity of the nation, is the essence of true nationalism, of true patriotism.
Along with this commitment, the citizens of tomorrow should also be empathetic to the plight of the less fortunate and generous to the needy. They should imbibe ethical values and always remain committed to high morals. In the olden times, moral science was a mandatory subject and it should be revived once again. I have also been stressing on the need to create awareness on environmental sustainability from a very young age. Preserve culture and protect nature for a better future.
You are very lucky to be educated in the hallowed portals of this Jesuit temple of learning. With every lesson you learn, you must compel yourself to think about those who were not fortunate enough to learn these lessons with you. This is, undoubtedly, what Father Mathias would have wanted.
I urge you to constantly update yourself in terms of knowledge and continually innovate in your teaching methods and practices.
Teachers should make classrooms centres of joyful learning, of discovery and innovation. Every student is different, their abilities, their strengths, their weaknesses are different. Your appreciation for this uniqueness in every student is what should dictate your approach to teaching and mentoring.
Strive to instil the joy of learning and a sense of curiosity in your students. Albert Einstein once remarked that ‘It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge’.
I hope that the teachers of this great institution are successful in moulding students who are true assets to the nation.
Also always remember that education does not, by itself make a person an employable, productive citizen. Education must be complimented with crucial life skills so that these talented young people find their own niche of relevance in the knowledge driven, interconnected world of the 21st century.
We live in a very complicated world where lies get mixed up with the truth. The changing media landscape and the profusion of new social media make it all the more challenging to make right decisions and to find the right answers to pressing problems.
Therefore, in addition to knowledge, skill and competence, young people should also be in possession of a strong moral compass that would help guide them through these ethical dilemmas of the new world which they would face in the course of their careers and personal lives.
We need knowledge, but also wisdom.
Along with preserving our traditional values which still play a strong role in India’s social fabric such as selflessness, peace, respect we need to inculcate the ability to live together and an ability to promote gender equality, inclusion and openness.
The intent of the Andhra Loyola College to mould ideal citizens is clear from its vision, ‘to impart higher education with integral formation which involves academic excellence, spiritual growth, social commitment and value based leadership’.
Let me tell you that future belongs to those who dare to dream and possess the courage, resilience and competence to create a better tomorrow.
I hope that Andhra Loyola College would be successful in providing a launch pad for these bright young people to reach their personal dreams and goals and the collective ambition of the nation.
The India of tomorrow will be shaped by each one of us, especially the youth. We must work together and create a society that we have always dreamt about.