Saturday, April 23, 2011
PONDICHERRY UNIVERSITY CONVOCATION
I love the song and ceremony of convocations. Last year I wrote about my meeting with Dr Javed Akthar, the noted poet and lyricist who was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University with which I am associated with in a very senior capacity. The Vice Chancellor, Professor J A K Tareen is a good administrator and I can say with the authority of one who has attended almost all convocations, that our University puts up a good show and the meticulous planning of the VC is there for all to see. Today the 21st Convocation of the University was held and I had to attend dressed like a penguin.Though Mani Shankar Ayer has made some radical noises about the utility of the balck academic robes and his other Iyer colleague in the UPA cabinet Jai Ram Ramesh has even gone to the extent of pulling off his robes while addressing the Convocation at IIT Delhi, I think the robes do add a touch of the drama and enhances the moment. After all convocations are but theatre.
The Vice Chancellor began by saying that the University has grown 300% daring the course of the last 4 years. I agree that the Vice Chancellor has done a great deal to enhance the standing and stature of the University. I was associated with the Coffee table Book and can say that when it finally makes its appearance the visibility of the University would be indeed great.
Dr K M Cherian, the famous heart surgeon was awarded the D. Sc (honoris Causa) and I think he did deserve the honour. He has virtually given the gift of life to countless people and he did give a soul stirring speech on success.
Montek Singh Aluwalia, Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission was the chief guest and he too received an Honorary degree. Educated at St Stephen's College, Delhi and at Oxford University, Montek made an unabashed plea for liberalisation. He indicated that until the onset of liberalisation in 1991 -92 India was growing at the rate of 3.5% annually with a population growth of around 2.5%. This rate of growth, cynically called the Hindu Rate of Growth was certainly a recipe for stagnation. During the past 2 decades India was growing at the rate 0f 9 to 10% and Montek was at pains to point out that at this rate of growth, India will emerge as a leading economic power house in the decades to come. Indian policy elites do not like comparisons with China and Montek Singh was honest enough to admit that by all parameters China was far far ahead of India. India, he could have added is held back by a Corrupt political system headed by the likes that are presently in power.
The convocation went off well and I though that I should put up my blog about it.