University of Madras a model for the country:  Kovind


CHENNAI: President of India Ram Nath Kovind stressed on the importance of providing education to girls for the betterment of the family and highlighted the links between Tamil Nadu and Punjab that dates back to the days of spritual leader Guru Nanak.
Speaking after handing over medals to 12rank holders at the convocation of Guru Nanak College in the city on Saturday Kovind said, "Of the graduating class over one-third is made up of girl students. Twelve students are University rank holders and are being honoured today with medals. And seven of the 12 medal winners are girls. These are impressive statistics. As I have said on earlier occasions, in educating a daughter we educate not one but two families. An educated girl is a positive influence on both her parents' family as well as the family she marries into and builds with her husband. And of course, she contributes enormously at the workplace and in building our economy." He also inaugurated Guru Amar Das Block and the Shaheed Baba Deep Singh auditorium where the convocation function was held.
Commending on the sikh community which has set up Guru Nanak College, he said that "I am told that the Guru Nanak Educational Society, the non-profit organisation that runs the College, is supported by 250 Sikh families living in Chennai. Despite the small size of the community, you are contributing to the state and to society, and doing so in the field of education."
Kovind said that the college was taking forward a long and rich history of engagement between Punjab and the Sikh community, and Tamil Nadu. "This history goes back to the period when Guru Nanak Dev, who was one of our greatest spiritual leaders and nation builders, visited Tamil Nadu as part of his journey to southern India. It is believed that he spent a few days in the holy town of Rameswaram."
"Tamil Nadu and Punjab were at the forefront of our freedom struggle. After Independence, both states and their hardworking people have contributed substantially to India's social and economic development. The Sikh community in Tamil Nadu is involved in a range of professions, from business and industry to agriculture. It is worth remembering that over 100 years ago, the family of the late A G Ram Singh migrated from Amritsar to Chennai. Ram Singh became one of the pioneering cricketers of our country and mentored many local players here in this city. Later two of his sons, A G Milkha Singh and A G Kripal Singh, played for India. At one time it used to be said that the leading cricket family of Tamil Nadu was a Sikh family. That sense of oneness, that unity in diversity, makes our country special.
Praising the langar kitchen in a gurudwara inside the campus that provides a free meal to about 700 students daily, Kovind said that "Tamil Nadu was the state that gave India the idea of the midday meal programme in schools. But a midday meal at the college level is unique."
As an advice to the students he said that "The value of education lies not just in getting a degree or training for a job. The real value is in giving back to society, and in helping those less privileged and less fortunate than us."
"It is with this sentiment that Guru Nanak College has extended a special facility in partnership with an NGO that runs a school for special children - that is children with special needs. I am told that certificate courses are offered to such students to help them find employment and to promote mainstreaming."
Tamil Nadu Governor Banwarilal Purohit said that the college should try to get Deemed University status. "I am sure you will get it as all eligibility critiria is fulfilled. Guru Nanak College is an autonomous college under the University of Madras.
He also said that Tamil Nadu had always been known for the special focus given to education. "The State was a pioneer in promoting the concept of aided schools. This enabled the rapid spread of education particularly in the rural areas. The state has the highest percentage of students taking up higher education, after the 12th Standard. When it was realised that many families could not afford to send their children to schools, provision of midday meals was done on a universal scale along with the provisions of uniforms, footwear, textbooks, bus passes, etc. free of cost."
Manjit Singh Nayar, general secretary and Correspondent of Guru Nanak College said, the ther were plans to set up a college in the neighbouring distrit and "We are planing to set up a college in Kancheepuram and are looking for land. We hope to convert the college in a university in the future."