Press Information Bureau
Government of India
Prime Minister's Office
19 FEB 2021 2:26PM by PIB Delhi
English rendering of PM’s address at the Convocation Ceremony of Visva-Bharati University

Governor of West Bengal, Shri Jagdeep Dhankar ji, Vice Chancellor of Visva-Bharati, Prof. Bidyut Chakrabartyji, all the teachers, staff and my energetic young colleagues!

It is also inspiring and pleasant for me and it gives a new energy to be part of the wonderful heritage that Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore has entrusted to Mother Bharati and to join all the colleagues. Wish I could personally meet you on this sacred soil. But due to the new rules that we have to follow, I am not being able to meet you personally and offer my greetings to you from afar and bow down to this sacred land. I have got this opportunity for the second time in a short interval.  On this important occasion of your life, I congratulate and wish all the young colleagues, parents and the teachers.


Today is another very auspicious occasion, a day of great inspiration. Today is the birth anniversary of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. I convey my best wishes to all my countrymen on the birth anniversary of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj ji. Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore ji also wrote a poem on the brave Shivaji titled Shivaji-Utsav.  He wrote:

 कोन्‌ दूर शताब्देर

कोन्‌-एक अख्यात दिबसे

नाहि जानि आजि, नाहि जानि आजि,

माराठार कोन्‌ शोएले अरण्येर

अन्धकारे बसे,

हे राजा शिबाजि,

तब भाल उद्भासिया ए भाबना तड़ित्प्रभाबत्

एसेछिल नामि–

“एकधर्म राज्यपाशे खण्ड

छिन्न बिखिप्त भारत

बेँधे दिब आमि।’’

That is, several centuries ago, on a nondescript day, I can barely imagine that day … Did this thought come to you O’ King Shivaji like a lightning from the high peak of a mountain and a dense forest … Did this idea come to you that you have to bind this fragmented country into one? Do I have to devote myself for this?

Inspired by Chhatrapati Veer Shivaji, there was a call for India’s unity, to bind India into one in these lines. We don’t have to forget these sentiments that strengthen the unity of the country. We have to remember and live this mantra of unity and integrity of the country every moment of our life. That is Tagore's message to us.


You are not just part of a university, but also a bearer of a vibrant tradition. Gurudev could have named it Global University or given it any other name if he wanted to see Visva-Bharati as just a university. But he called it Visva-Bharati University. He said: ‘’Visva-Bharati acknowledges India’s obligation to offer to others the hospitality of her best culture and India’s right to accept from others their best.’’

It was Gurudev’s expectation that anyone who came to learn in Visva-Bharati would see the whole world from the point of view of India and Indianness. This model of Gurudev was inspired by the values of Brahm, renunciation and bliss. Therefore, he made Visva- Bharati such a place of learning which embraces India’s rich heritage, research and work to solve the problems of the poorest of the poor. I also see these values in the former students from here and that is what the country expects from you also.


For Gurudev Tagore, Visva-Bharati was not just an institution to impart and serve knowledge. This is an effort to reach the apex goal of Indian culture, which we call – to realize oneself.  When you join ‘Upasana’ on your campus on Wednesday, you evaluate yourself. When you join the events started by Gurudev, there is an opportunity to evaluate yourself. When Gurudev says:

‘आलो अमार

आलो ओगो

आलो भुबन भारा’

So it is a call for that light that awakens our consciousness. Gurudev Tagore believed that we have to discover ourselves among the varied differences and ideologies. He used to say for Bengal:

बांगलार माटी,

बांगलार जोल,

बांगलार बायु, बांगलार फोल,

पुण्यो हौक,

पुण्यो हौक,

पुण्यो हौक,

हे भोगोबन..

But, at the same time, he used to be equally proud of India's diversity. He used to say:

हे मोर चित्तो पुन्यो तीर्थे जागो रे धीरे,

ई भारोतेर महामनोबेर सागोरो-तीरे

हेथाय दाराए दु बाहु बाराए नमो


And it was Gurudev's vast vision that he observed mankind under the open skies of Santiniketan.

एशो कर्मी, एशो ज्ञानी,

ए शो जनकल्यानी, एशो तपशराजो हे!

एशो हे धीशक्ति शंपद मुक्ताबोंधो शोमाज हे !

O’ labour companions, O’ knowledgeable companions, O’ social workers, O’ saints, all the conscious companions of the society, let us work together for the liberation of society. It is the privilege of those who spend a moment to seek knowledge on your campus that they get this vision of Gurudev.


Visva-Bharati is the expansive sea of knowledge in itself, the foundation of which was laid for experience-based education.  Gurudev established this great university on the notion that knowledge and creativity have no boundaries. You also always have to remember that knowledge, ideas and skills are not static, not like a stone, not stationary, but these are eternal. It's a continuous process and there's always a scope for course correction, but both knowledge and power come with responsibility.

Just as one has to be restrained and sensitive while in power, every scholar also has to be responsible towards those who do not have knowledge. Your knowledge is not only yours but it is the heritage of society, country and the future generations. Your knowledge and skill can make a society and a nation proud or can push society into the darkness of slander and ruin. There are many such examples in history and at present.

You see, there are many highly educated, highly learned, highly skilled people who are spreading terror and violence across the world. On the other hand, there are people who risk their lives all the time to save the world from global pandemic like Corona and are stationed at hospitals and labs.

It is not just a question of ideology, the basic thing is mindset. What you do depends on whether your mindset is positive or negative. There is scope for both and pathways are open for both.  It is in our hands to decide whether we want to be part of the problem or the solution.  If we put the same power, capability, wisdom and splendor to good use, the result will be same, but if we misuse them, the result will be different. If we only see our own interest, we will always be surrounded with troubles, problems and resentment.

But if you rise above yourself and your selfishness and move forward with the approach of the nation first, you will also feel like finding a solution to each problem.  Even in evil forces, you will feel to find good, to change the situation and you will change the situation and will also emerge as a solution in yourself.

If your intentions are clear and your allegiance is to Mother Bharati, every decision, every conduct, every work of yours will move towards solving one or the other problem. Success and failure do not determine our present and future. You may not get the expected results after a decision, but you should not be afraid to make a decision. As a youth, as a human being, whenever we are afraid of making decisions, it will be the biggest crisis for us. If you are discouraged from making decisions, then your youth is gone. You are no longer young.

As long as the youth of India have the passion to innovate, take risks and move forward, at least, I am not bothered about the future of the country. And my confidence becomes stronger when there is such a large number of youth power in a young country of 130 crore population.  Whatever support and environment you need, me, my government and the country which is brimming with 130 crore resolutions and the country which seeks to realize its dreams is standing with you.


When I spoke to you on the historic occasion of 100 years of Visva-Bharati, I mentioned the contribution of all the youth for India's self-esteem and self-reliance. All of you will get a lot of experiences in the next stage of your life when you graduate from here.


Today, as we are proud of the birth anniversary of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, I remember Dharampal ji today. Today is also the birth anniversary of the great Gandhian Dharampal ji. One of his creations is “The Beautiful Tree -- Indigenous Indian Education in the Eighteenth Century”.

Talking to you today from this holy land, I must mention about him. And when I am talking from the energetic land of Bengal, it is natural for me to put that topic of Dharampal ji before you. Dharampal ji has given details of a national education survey conducted by Thomas Munro in his book. 

The education survey in 1820 has many things that surprise us all and fill us with pride. India's literacy rate was assessed to be very high in that survey. It was also written in the survey that there were more than one Gurukul in every village.  And the village temples were not just the places of worship, they were associated with a sacred work by encouraging and promoting education.  They also emphasized taking the Gurukul traditions forward. Universities were looked at with pride for their wide network in every region and in every kingdom. The institutions of higher education were also in large numbers.

Before the British education system was imposed on India, Thomas Munro had experienced the Indian education system and its strength. He saw how vibrant our education system is.  It was 200 years ago. The same book also mentions William Adam, who found that there were more than one lakh rural schools in Bengal and Bihar in 1830.


I am telling you these things in detail because we need to know what our education system was, how glorious it was, how it had reached every human being. And, later on, where did we reach during the British period and in the subsequent period?

The systems and methods that Gurudev developed in Visva-Bharati were a means of liberating India's education system from the shackles of subordination and modernizing India. Now, the new national education policy that has been prepared in India today also gives the students full freedom to exhibit their potentials while breaking old shackles. This education policy gives you the freedom to read different subjects. This education policy gives you the option to read in your language. This education policy also promotes entrepreneurship and self-employment.

This education policy promotes research and innovation. This education policy is also an important milestone in building a self-reliant India. The government is also continuously working to create a strong research and innovation ecosystem in the country. Recently, the government has decided to give free access to millions of journals in the country and the world to its scholars. This year, the budget has also proposed to spend Rs. 50,000 crore on research in the next five years through the National Research Foundation.


India's self-reliance is not possible without the self-confidence of the daughters of the country. The new national education policy also provides for the first time Gender Inclusion Fund. The policy plans to teach a number of skill sets from carpentry to coding from the sixth class, the skills which were kept away from the girls. While formulating the education policy, the reasons for higher drop-out rate among daughters have been seriously studied. Therefore, a new system has been put in place for continuity in studies, entry and exit option in the degree course and surety of every year's credit.


Bengal has led the country in advancing India's rich knowledge and science in the past and it is a matter of glory. Bengal has also been the inspiration and workplace of Ek Bharat, Shreshtha Bharat. I also spoke in detail regarding this during the centenary celebrations. Today, when India is moving towards creating a knowledge-based economy of the 21st century, the eyes are on you, on youngsters like you, the knowledge estate of Bengal, the energetic citizens of Bengal. Visva- Bharati has a very big role to play in spreading India's knowledge and identity to every nook and corner of the world.

This year, we are heralding the 75th year of our independence. The biggest gift of every student of Visva-Bharati to the country would be to further refine the image of India and to sensitize more and more people.  Visva-Bharati should lead the educational institutions of the country in realizing the rest of the countries and the entire mankind about India, the spirit of humanity, intimacy and welfare of the world which trickles in every drop of our blood.

This is my request that the students of Visva-Bharati together prepare a vision document for the next 25 years. When there will be 100 years of independence, when India will celebrate 100 years of its independence in 2047, what will be the 25 biggest goals of Visva-Bharati. It can form the vision document. You should discuss with your teachers but you must set a goal.

You have adopted many villages in your area. Can a beginning be made by making every village self-reliant? Respected Bapu talked about Ram Rajya and Gram Swaraj. My young friends! Make the people of the villages, the craftsmen and farmers there self-reliant, become a chain to take their products to the big markets in the world.

Visva-Bharati is the main basis of Bolpur district. Visva-Bharati is enshrined in all its economic, physical and cultural activities. It is a vibrant entity. You also have to fulfil your larger responsibility by empowering the people here and society.

May you succeed in every effort and realize your resolutions! The objectives with which you stepped into Visva-Bharati and with its rich wealth of culture and knowledge that you are stepping into the world, the entire mankind wants a lot from you and has a lot of expectations. And this soil has made you and has taken your care. It has made you worthy of fulfilling the expectations of the world and mankind.  You are full of self-confidence, you are committed to resolutions and your youth is embellished with culture. It will be useful for generations to come and for the country. I am confident that you will emerge as a great force in achieving India’s rightful standing in the 21st century. At this glorious moment, I consider myself rich to be a co-passenger in your company. Let us who have been educated and cultured by Gurudev Tagore from this sacred soil march ahead together. My best wishes to you.

Many best wishes! My greetings to your parents and teachers!

I thank you a lot.


DISCLAIMER: This is the approximate translation of PM’s speech. Original speech was delivered in Hindi.