Symbiosis Law School, Pune (SLS-P), a constituent of Symbiosis International (Deemed University) (SIU), and Public Concern for Governance Trust (PCGT), Pune Chapter, jointly organized the 7 th Late Shri B.G. Deshmukh Memorial Lecture, 2018 on “Education – Oxygen for Development” at Symbiosis Old Viman Nagar Campus Auditorium, Pune on 11 th August, 2018. Students from various sister institutes of SLS-P were in attendance, such as SICSR, SIT, SID, SSLA, SIMC, and SSE.
This Annual Public Lecture Series has been instituted in the honor of Late Shri B. G. Deshmukh, IAS, Former Cabinet Secretary, Government of India and Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister. The basic objective behind the launch of this Annual Public Lecture Series is to explore and enlighten the youth and public on the challenges in governance in India.
The program began with lighting of lamp by the dignitaries followed by garlanding of Shri B.G. Deshmukh Sir’s portrait. Dr. Shashikala Gurpur, Fulbright Scholar, Director, SLS-P, Dean, Faculty of Law, SIU, initiated the lecture by giving the audience an insight into the conception of the annual lecture series. Dr. Gurpur recounted memories of the lecture taking place on the S.B. Road Campus, where Shri B.G. Deshmukh would take keen interest in the lecture, by suggesting themes pertinent to life and knowledge, thereby ensuring that the lecture proved to be an opportunity for students to gain valuable knowledge outside the confines of their classroom. She credited Dr. S.B. Mujumdar’s vision and thirst for knowledge as the reason for SIU’s global success, as seen in BRICS and Asian rankings. Dr. Gurpur elaborated on the theme of the lecture, “Education – Oxygen for Development”, as she termed, “True education is an avenue of rights and justice which touches upon lives.” She upheld SIU’s efforts in the field of education in India as an experiment in justice, inclusion, development. She concluded by saying “I appreciate PCGT’s unrestrained commitment to the cause of public intellectualism”, and expressed her faith in the organization to rejuvenate the cause which is unfortunately on a decline in the country.
Mr. Ajit Nimbalkar, Member, PCGT, Pune chapter, gave an overview of PCGT’s inception, aims and objectives. He expressed his belief in empowerment of citizens, and a transparent & accountable government. He elucidated the achievements of Shri B.G. Deshmukh and encouraged the students to be as committed to the nation as Mr. Deshmukh, whose apolitical stance, sincerity and meticulous dedication to his work made him a visionary.
Dr. S.B. Mujumdar, Hon’ble Chancellor, SIU, the Keynote Speaker introduced the topic by stating, “Living beings require oxygen and ‘education’ is required for development. Therefore, education is oxygen for development.” He shared PM Shri Narendra Modi’s slogan, “Sab ka saath, Sab ka vikas” and reminded the Indian youth of their responsibility of driving the country to the path of development. Dr. Mujumdar acknowledged the high percentage of youth in India, but went on to say, “The need for the youth population to be utilized as efficient human resource of the country, will reap benefits of the demographic dividend and prevent a demographic disaster.” He drew the audience’s attention to a glaring reality surrounding the Indian education system and said, “The low gross enrollment ratio found in the country is only 23% of the country’s youth enrolled in institutes providing higher education.” Dr. Mujumdar informed the students of the dismal state of higher education in India, and held responsible factors such as old syllabus, ignorance of soft skills, poor quality and training of teachers, lack of emphasis on research, among many others. He urged the students to commit themselves to a revolution in the field of education in India, and not to submit to the notion that foreign universities are superior. He commented, “Our country needs more skill based colleges that promote entrepreneurship, innovation and research.” Dr. Mujumdar concluded by dismissing the element of reservation in the Indian education system, and upheld merit as the only criterion that must be observed by educational institutes.
Mr. S. C. Nagpal, Chairman, PCGT, Pune Chapter delivered the concluding remarks by appreciating SIU’s commitment to being an institute that stands firmly on the pillar of inclusivity and meritocracy. He commended Dr. S.B. Mujumdar’s efforts that have contributed to the nurturing of thousands of students across India.
Mr. Satish Khot, Vice Chairman, PCGT acted as the Moderator for an engaging Question and Answer session. Dr. Bindu Ronald, Deputy Director, SLS, Pune delivered the vote of thanks. The programme came to a close with the National Anthem.