anyone would like to read my convocation report, here it is:
Your Excellency the Governor of Andhra Pradesh and Chief Rector of the University Shri E. S. Lakshmi Narasimhan, respected Dr. R. Chidambaram, Chancellor of the University, Dr. Anil Kakodkar, the distinguished Chief Guest of the Convocation, members of the Convocation, colleagues, dear students and esteemed guests:
On behalf of the Executive Council of the University of Hyderabad and on my own behalf, it is my privilege and honour to extend you all a cordial welcome to the thirteenth Convocation of the University. Our Chief Guest Dr. Kakodkar, an eminent nuclear scientist, was the Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission and Secretary to the Government of India, Department of Atomic Energy. He has also been the Director of Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, and is well known for having played a major role in India’s nuclear programme, particularly in the design and construction of the indigenous Dhruva reactor as well as the reactors at Kalpakkam and Rawatbhata. Recipient of the Padma Vibhushan, Padma Bhushan and Padma Shri Awards, Dr. Kakodkar is a champion of India’s self-reliance: his dream is to make India fully self-reliant in energy particularly by the use of indigenous Thorium resources. We are indeed privileged and honoured to welcome you, Sir, as Chief Guest at this Convocation.
We extend a warm welcome to our respected Chancellor Dr. R. Chidambaram. Dr. Chidambaram, an Indian nuclear scientist and metallurgist is the Principal Scientific Advisor to the Government of India and formerly was a predecessor of Dr Kakodkar as Director of the BARC. As a member of IAEA‘s ‘Commission of Eminent Persons’, Dr. Chidambaram played an important role in getting the Safeguards Agreement passed by the Board of IAEA that followed the signing of the Civilian Nuclear Cooperation Agreement between India and the United States of America. Dr. Chidambaram completed his Ph.D. in nuclear physics at the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore in 1962 and his research thesis on Nuclear Magnetic Resonance was awarded the Martin Forster Medal for the best Ph. D. thesis submitted to the IISc during 1961-62. He has subsequently been awarded the D. Sc. in metallurgy and in materials science. Dr. Chidambaram is the recipient a number of awards and honors including the Padma Vibhushan and the Padma Shri.
We are also privileged to have in our midst His Excellency the Governor of Andhra Pradesh Shri E. S. Lakshmi Narasimhan. Thank you very much, Sir, for sparing some of your valuable time to be with us to give away medals to the recipients.
Before I present my report, I warmly congratulate all the graduates who have received their degrees today. My hearty congratulations are also due to the medal winners. Yours is the Earth!
Ladies and gentlemen, the University is now 37 years old and is regarded as one of the major Universities in the area of higher education achieving honours and attaining standards that set a benchmark for universities in India. The faculty strength is over 400 and that of students is 4,700 plus. We are poised to expand further in the coming few months as we advertise 124 positions and will, hopefully, fill these up soon. As of now the faculty have written over 1,100 books and more than 12,000 papers. We are also pleased to share the news that we have been granted 8 patents. All these have helped us achieve the position of the highest ranking University within the UGC system.
The University is particularly pleased that this year one of our alumni has been awarded the Shanti Swaroop Bhatnagar Prize in Chemistry in addition to several of our faculty being elected to the INSA, IASc, and other academies. We also have a Young Engineer of the year among our colleagues, and our former Vice-Chancellors have recently been given the Gujar Mal Modi Science & Technology Award, H.K. Firodia Award and the Lokmanya Tilak Award. Our faculty have also been associated with several important national and international bodies, held Professorships of distinction both in India and abroad, and participated in the global educational scene with as much vigour as we have always done. Furthermore, they have been funded quite handsomely receiving grants from national and international funding agencies like UGC, MHRD, DBT, DST, EU, DoE, IUSSTF and so on. The University’s current extramural R&D funding is over Rs. 135 crores.
In its 10 Schools of study, the University offers postgraduate and research programmes in several areas of the Humanities, Social Sciences, Sciences, Arts, Management, Medical Sciences and Engineering. There are also a large number of students under the Distance Education and Virtual Learning Programe through 20 PG Diploma courses. In addition, there are a number of Centres outside the School system, interdisciplinary Centres such as the Centre for Neural and Cognitive Sciences, Centre for Women’s Studies, Centre for Study of Social Exclusion and Inclusive Policy, to name a few. I am happy to inform that it has been decided to convert the Department of Economics into our eleventh School.
The Academic Staff College at the University is one of the finest of such Staff Colleges established by the UGC. It has so far conducted 72 Orientation Courses, 180 Refresher Courses for the benefit of 10,000 teachers from the colleges and universities all over the country. The University is running a high school on the campus for the benefit of employees’ children as well as for those from the neighbourhood.
Over the years, our annual student enrolment has grown steadily, now at a little over 4,700 in regular courses. Entrance examinations for selection of students are conducted in 25 centres all over the country. About a third of our students are women, and nearly two fifths come from marginalized or otherwise deprived communities.
The Library at the University has done very well and has a collection of about 3.6 lakh books and other reference material, and it subscribes to about 600 foreign journals and 18,000 online journals and 12 online databases. It is fully automated with special software for the visually-challenged students. It has recently received the highest usage award from the UGC for utilizing online journals and databases provided under the UGC Info Net Digital Library Consortium.
This is the final year of the 11th Plan, under which the University has been allocated a sum of Rs. 189 crores, a large part of which has been spent for expansion and strengthening of our infrastructure.
In this Convocation a total of 2097 students will receive their degrees and of these 161 are Ph.Ds. This brings the total number of Ph D’s produced at the UoH to nearly 1700, and the number of graduating students since the time of its inception to nearly 20000.
In the early part of this century, the University Grants Commission selected the University as one of five that they declared to be Universities with the Potential for Excellence. Along with this title came entitlement, a certain special grant that each of the Universities could use in order to better realize this potential. It was the wisdom of the leadership at the UoH at that time that the funds obtained under the UPE grant were used to promote interdisciplinary or interfacial studies, thereby ensuring two things. The first was that we realized that the most exciting aspects of any field of enquiry lay at its boundaries, where the questions and methods came dangerously close to the methods and questions of other traditional domains. The second was that we could make new entities to look at these problems. Thus, the interface between biology and physics, between nanoscience and biology, between physics and neuroscience, between neuroscience and philosophy, and between science and public policy: these interdisciplinary- indeed multidisciplinary areas of study have been found most fruitful, and form the focus of some of the new research that we have undertaken in the past decade. And thus we have seen the establishment of a Centre for Neural and Cognitive Sciences, a Centre for Nanotechnology, and a Centre for Women’s Studies among others.
Among aspects of multidisciplinarity, of intellectual integration, one of the most imaginative initiatives that the UoH has pursued is the undergraduate programmes, the integrated Masters programmes in the Sciences, Humanities, and Social Sciences. Students are admitted after twelfth standard in this five year program of studies. The first set of students to graduate are among those here in the hall today, and we are very proud of this innovation that the University has introduced in higher education in India. Like many good beginnings, this effort needs nurturing and polishing, and this is our task in the coming years. The integration that has been successfully done vertically needs to be buttressed horizontally as well- to offer students in the country a liberal arts program that is sensitive to our educational system and our needs.
This sense of consolidation will, I hope, mark the efforts of the UoH in this decade. Having witnessed considerable growth- in faculty strength, in student strength, in the number of programs, the number of departments, centers and schools, and in the number of different degrees we give; it is now time for us to consolidate. We are in desperate need of infrastructure to fully realize our dreams. Adequate hostel rooms, adequate offices and laboratories, teaching spaces etc. These facilities are not just part of a wish list, they are crucial if we are to be in a position to take advantage of the initiatives made in the last decade. The University is – in a way that few institutions are- a wonderfully inclusive campus with diverse inputs from all over India. The potential is all here, and it is the obligation of the University administration to translate the potential into realization. This requires, at the base, a solid infrastructure. Common teaching spaces are our primary requirements as we make our claim for the UGC’s second phase of support under the UPE rubric.
Having just gone through a part of this exercise, it is a matter of pleasure to report that the University community has with one voice requested for common facilities – for the faculty as a whole- to pursue and strengthen our efforts in interdisciplinary areas. Enabling students to easily pursue complementary disciplines, enabling the mingling of ideas in common spaces- these are the themes of the different areas of support that we have requested.
To reiterate some ideas that I articulated a couple of months ago, the University system is continuously evolving, and not always in a way that one could have anticipated. Today, we see the mushrooming of new Institutes and universities with different mandates, different aims, and different sets of goals. I would not like to forget the very special space that the UoH, as a Central University, occupies as a centre for learning and knowledge dissemination; we have an added responsibility, to grow with inclusion in the true sense, and with transparency. Our commitment to this goal remains as real as always. It also becomes increasingly difficult, as the world changes, as the country changes, and indeed as our local environment changes. But a University such as ours was founded on the hope that from such scholarship would emerge the possibility of addressing social and societal problems, and from such scholarship would emerge the material that would lead our country forward in all spheres of achievement. These hopes are still alive.
To realize this aspiration, the UoH needs the ability to grow in new ways, and indeed, needs to be unfettered as we aspire to excel. Too often, we perform to the levels set by others and achieve goals set by governments. As academics, we know that the best standards are internal, set by the disciplines themselves. We need the freedom to pursue such ideals, without fear or favour.
Our progress along these paths would not have been possible without the unstinting and tireless support of the UoH fraternity which includes the students, the staff, the officers and the teachers. Each has played her or his role with enthusiasm and dedication, and each has been crucial in bringing us to this special moment. Thank you all.