President at IIM-Calcutta: ‘Let there be debate, dissent … but let there not be intolerance’

Pranab Mukherjee with state education minster Partha Chatterjee at IIM-Calcutta

on Saturday. Partha Paul Pranab Mukherjee with state education minster Partha Chatterjee at IIM-Calcuttaon Saturday. Partha Paul

PRESIDENT PRANAB Mukherjee on Saturday appealed to the student community to be argumentative, but not intolerant. “Being a fellow Calcuttan and a son of the soil, I frankly express some of my views and I speak by my heart. I am ready to accept that I am argumentative but I am not ready to accept that I am intolerant. India is a land of tolerance, India is a land of Buddha, India is a land of Gandhi, India is a land of Chaitanya. We accept, we absorb, we embrace and we do not reject anybody. Please keep that in mind,” he said, speaking at the 52nd Annual Convocation of IIM-Calcutta. “Let there be debate, let there be dissentient…but let there not be confrontation, intolerance. To my mind, this is essential to reach the standard you want to achieve…,” he added.

“Indians as Professor Amartya Sen had said they are argumentative, but it can never be said that we are intolerant… particularly, the seat of our higher academic institutions, which have always been known for its liberalism, confluence of various thoughts, ideas, disciplines and views,” said the President. Urging students present at the convocation to “accept criticism of others”, he said: “Free-thinking and expression of liberal views, expression of dissent are the characteristics of the higher learning, higher education system in India… Let us commit ourselves that yes, we will accept criticism of others… but let us not be described as intolerant by others. I do hope this will be acceptable to you.”

The President emphasised that the academic environment should be free from physical and mental violence, particularly in the seats of higher learning. “On several occasions in the last two months, whenever I get the opportunity, I express my views before the sensitive minds of students, teachers and faculty members… all academic environment and institutional atmosphere should be free from violence. Not only free of physical violence but also of mental violence.” During the convocation, Mukherjee awarded diplomas to 434 students. He also inaugurated a new amphitheatre of IIM-Calcutta. While 68 students were awarded diploma in Post Graduate Programme for Executives (PGPEX), 40 were awarded diploma in Post Graduate Programme for Executive for Visionary Leadership in Manufacturing (PGPEX-VLM). The institute also conferred 13 students with the Fellowship Programme diploma. State education minister Partha Chatterjee was also present at the event.

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