Naureen Gurung | March 18, 2019 | 10:26 AM IST
NEW DELHI, MARCH 15, 2019: Vellore Institute of Technology (VIT) named a towering 13-floor Hostel Block after former Prime Minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, and a 5-floor Administrative Block was dedicated to Mahatma Gandhi. The Hostel Block was built at a cost of Rs. 105 crores while the Academic Block stands at Rs. 51 crores.
The entitlement of the buildings, done by Padmaja Chunduru, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Indian Bank, marked the beginning of VIT’s International Women’s Day celebration. Dr G.Viswanathan, Founder and Chancellor of VIT was also present on this occasion. G. Muthazhagi, Vice President, Delivery and Support (ERP), Ramco Systems and a former student of VIT, was the Guest of Honour. Professor Anand A. Samuel, Vice-Chancellor, Dr Sandhya Pentareddy, Executive Director, and Professor S. Narayanan, Pro- Vice-Chancellor were also present on the occasion. Rakshanya Sekar welcomed the guests with her speech.
Dr Viswanathan commenced the discussion as he talked about women forming 49% of today’s population. However, they constituted only about 7 to 8% in Legislative Assemblies in the State, 10% of the judiciary strength in High Courts and among Legislators in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha – the lower and upper houses of Parliament, the number was only 12 and 11%. He added that they formed only 15% in Indian Administrative and Police Services. Moreover, he stated that everyone in the country talks about women empowerment and though the bill to provide one-third of representation in State Assemblies and Parliament
was introduced in 1996, its execution has been stagnant since 22 years. Dr Viswanathan calls for more attention towards women’s education to honour their importance in society.
Free compulsory higher education
Dr Viswanathan advocates for free and compulsory education to children below the age of 14. However, he pointed out that this right is only exercised in government schools, while half the children were going to private schools. He suggested that the age bar should be increased to 18 until all children complete their plus two. He said that the Education Promotion Society of India (EPSI), under his presidency, was working towards raising the age limit for providing free education for children from 14 to 18 years. He added that they are appealing to all the political parties to come to a consensus about access to free and quality higher education. “In higher education, we are lagging behind. Our Gross Enrolment Ratio or access to higher education is 25% and there is still a long way to go in offering higher education for the middle and poorer classes,” he added as he mentioned talked about 40 countries in the world that were granting free higher education to people above the age of 18.
More investment in higher education
He quoted our Prime Minister, Narendra Modi speaking about accessibility, affordability and equity in higher education. However, to implement this, he suggested that the government should spend more in the education sector. He recalled how since the past 30-40 years, the demands for 6% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to be spent on higher education have been ignored. Currently, only 3% of Rs. 27 lakh crores was allotted for education. “We have suggested that if it is not possible to implement this immediately, the government can begin by providing free higher education to girls...The country should spend more money on education and health and that is the important duty of elected government,” the chancellor said.
He ends by recalling Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee’s admiration, “I was with him from 1967 onwards when I was elected as Lok Sabha Member of Parliament. He was then the leader of the Jan Sangh party. He was accepted by all parties in the country, including the Opposition and he was a lovable Prime Minister.”
‘Think equal, Build Smart, Innovate for Change’
Ms Chunduru highlights that India possessed a better culture of encouraging women without judging them based on their looks, complexion. “Empowerment is something that is in us. Assume that you are empowered and it will be achieved through proper education, freedom and equality in thinking,” Ms Chunduru added. She insisted that the support of parents, spouse and friends will help people in taking their next step in the right direction. She explained the motto of the day, ‘Think Equal, Build Smart, Innovate for change’ by mentioning, “Today there are so many options for jobs, education, marriages, to choose how you work and where to work. Hence, options are good but making a decision is equally very difficult. That decision making is what you need to empower yourself for.”
Be focused and positive!
In her address, the Guest of Honor, Ms Muthazhagi said that staying focused, being positive, believing in oneself, and trying to explore and innovate were the essentials for budding engineers. A former student of VIT, Ms Muthazhagi said that VIT is a world-class institution and the perfect place to learn and grow. She encouraged the students to make the most of it and accomplish their goals, “I have taken the best of my learning at VIT and enriched many soft skills which have helped me in my career at Ramco – the both in terms of always being a good team player and an understanding leader and mentor.” She further added that her self confidence has helped her reach Ramco Systems today.
Ms Muthazhagi’s advice to the female students of VIT was to balance their work and life. “Stay focused, plan and execute with priorities - be it at home or at work. Invest in yourself to move further and remember that keeping fit and maintaining good health is the best wealth,” she said. She further shared that at Ramco, they were taking part in Yoga classes every day to keep themselves de-stressed and rejuvenated and encouraged everyone at the event to do the same for health, harmony and peace.
Learn as you teach and teach as you learn
Ms Muthazhagi mentioned how she regarded Chancellor Dr Viswanathan as one of her mentors as he was always, simple, young and energetic, “We owe a lot to you sir as a person of great vision in the field of education, especially in uplifting women for the development of our society.” The audience agreed with their neverending applause as she described the gender-balanced environment in VIT, providing equal opportunities for women and men to excel in all fields.
The event came to a close as Dr M. Channa Reddy Auditorium, Sankar Viswanathan and Dr Sekar Viswanathan, Vice Presidents of VIT handed over mementoes to the guests. Sonal Singh delivered the vote of thanks.
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