Amid the raging debate over freedom of speech, President Pranab Mukherjee on Sunday invoked Nalanda and Taxila, the ancient centres of learning, to pitch for an atmosphere free of prejudice and violence on the university campuses.
“If there cannot be free atmosphere in a university, in an academic institution, then what type of lessons we can give to our students? An atmosphere must be free from prejudice, anger, violence, doctrines. It must be conducive to free flow intellectual persuasions,” he said.
Mukherjee, who was delivering the valedictory address at the ‘International Buddhists Conference’ in Nalanda, underlined that education means development of mind and constant interaction with teachers and fellow students.
Referring to the ancient learning centres in Nalanda, Taxila and Vikramshila, he said these attracted great minds in the form of students and teachers from all over the world.
“These were not merely places of learning, but were a confluence of four civilizations Indian, Persian, Greek and Chinese.. The essence of these universities was open mind, free discussions. The acharyas and upadhyays encouraged students to pose questions, before a proposition was to be accepted and followed by them.”
The comments assume significance as these came amid the raging debate over freedom of speech and expression in the wake of some untoward incidents at the JNU and Delhi University.
Speaking about terrorism, the President said it is not just an action, but also a “mental aberration and an expression of a twisted and a perverted mindset” and nations must think together on how to deal with this menace.
“The crisis (of terrorism) is all pervasive. It is not confined to causing injuries to fellow citizens (but), it is the wanton destruction of values, of the heritage, of the assets which have been built over centuries through generation,” he said, referring to destruction of Buddhist sites by Taliban in Afghanistan.