Mr President Came to MU

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The president of India, in his speech on the fourteenth Convocation of Manipur University has touched on some of the important areas of education and the role of the university. That future lies in the investment in education. He emphasised the strength of education and knowledge in achieving development. The president gave an honest analysis of the state of higher education in the country. He said, “It is easy to decipher that many academic institutions lack the quality to produce graduates for the global market”. Before making the above quoted statement, the president has thrown light on the grandeur of education. This was how he described education at his poetic best: “Education separates light and darkness; advancement from backwardness; excellence from mediocrity”. If we are to establish a logical corollary between the two statements that the president has made, we shall have to understand the role ‘global market’ has to play. The anxiety that many academic institutions are not able to produce graduates for global market posed an important question. Is it the primary goal of higher education and its institution to produce graduates in order to meet the demand of the global market? If that is so, how are the market friendly graduates going to separate between light and darkness; advancement from backwardness, and excellence from mediocrity? Or rather the president should have mentioned it clearly that it is market that is going to decide the fate of a country, instead of dragging education into the affairs. The president has also highlighted many ills that afflict efficient functioning of universities. He said that lack of good governance is one of them. This is true indeed. We believed the president must be well aware of the face-off between the faculty and the administration of the Manipur University. An effective and transparent administration is obligatory for smooth functioning of any institution. It is pertinent to recall that the faculty of the university has carried out cease-work strike early this year in February. We hope the genuine demands made by the faculty have been sorted out with the administration. If not, the issue should be addressed at the earliest in larger interest of all. On a positive note, the president announced the revival of Manipur University Students Union. The Union was dissolved in 2009 after the centralisation of the university. The norms that is given by a Central university regarding the students’ representation did not matched with the then MUSU, though it was an elected body. Instead of an elected body, a Student Council should represent the students without any kind of elections, as it was mentioned in the statutory of the university. By that time Lyngdoh Commision had made certain recommendations on the matter of students’ body in the campus. It was also challenged by many students’ organisations through the court. Students of the MU have launched agitations in the campus demanding the revival of MUSU. Now that the green signal from the highest authority has been given, the students have a good reason to rejoice. Nevertheless, the students should not rest on their laurels. They should strive to rebuild MUSU which should serve the utmost interest of the students. Should we remind that a student body like MUSU is not merely a ‘pressure group’ that throws weight for the sake of displaying sheer power. They should lead in academic debates too. We have seen, in the past, student representatives who are only interested in power play with questionable credentials in academic. From the next academic session onwards those things have to be imprisoned in the past, for a vibrant and a meaningful student body. Sadly, the president who is the Commander in Chief of the armed forces has left without uttering a single word about the military presence in the heart of the campus.

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