Songs and dances of North East - Cultural Festival - Inauguration

President of India to inaugurate the first edition of a cultural festival titled ‘songs and dances of North East’ tomorrow

The President of India, Shri Pranab Mukherjee will inaugurate a cultural festival of the North East organized by Government of Meghalaya and sponsored by the North Eastern Council in New Delhi tomorrow (April 11, 2015).

This initiative is one of the outcomes of the recommendations of the M.P. Bezbaruah Committee on the North East, set up by the Ministry of Home Affairs to work out modalities for building a strong social bond between the people of North East and the rest of the country.

The festival will showcase the rich cultural ethnicity and diversity of North East India. Assam, Mizoram, Meghalaya, Tripura, Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim, Nagaland and Manipur will set up their stalls and display a plethora of products. Leading music bands of the North East will perform. There will also be a tourism exhibition, food festival and free dance lessons for those interested in learning dances of the North East.


The President, Shri Pranab Mukherjee at the 10th Convocation of Mizoram University, in Aizawl, Mizoram on April 10, 2015. The Governor of West Bengal, Shri Keshari Nath Tripathi, the Chief Minister of Mizoram Shri Lal Thanhawla, the Vice Chancellor, Prof. R. Lalthantluanga and the Registrar, Shri C. Zothankhuama are also seen.

Speech by the President of India, Shri Pranab Mukherjee at the tenth convocation of Mizoram University

1. It is a happy occasion for me to be here today and address you in this tenth Convocation of Mizoram University. I am also glad to have made use of this opportunity to visit Mizoram, which is my first occasion after I assumed the office of the President of India. Let me thank you all for welcoming me to your State and University.

2. Mizoram is a storehouse of natural beauty, comprising hilly terrains, deep gorges, meandering streams, picturesque landscape, and rich flora and fauna. In particular, the Campus of Mizoram University with its pleasant surroundings and quiet atmosphere is ideally suited for the pursuit of learning.

3. Mizoram was a district of the State of Assam before it became a Union Territory in 1972. In 1987, it became the 23rd State of our country. With a long international border of over 700 kilometres - having Bangladesh to its west and Myanmar to its south and east – Mizoram occupies a vital strategic position. The Mizo people are a close-knit society marked by a complete absence of class distinction and gender discrimination. They are well-known for their hospitality, and are of kind, selfless and helpful nature.

Dear graduating students:

4. Let me congratulate you all on this important occasion. It is hearty to see the joy of accomplishment in all of you. As you step out of your academic universe today, be assured that your education will always keep you in good stead; you will thrive wherever you go and shine whatever you do. Having said that, I want to remind you all that you owe something to the society at large. You are now entrusted with the people’s hopes and expectations. The educated is a trustee of a special responsibility. The upliftment of your less fortunate compatriots is a sacred task that bright people like you must perform. This obligation to your country is something that you must always cherish. It is a bond that you must not sever. So, go; live your dreams. At the same time, live the dreams of your country and countrymen.

5. India is today a nation on the move. In every field of activity – be it business, industry, trade, education or culture – we are marching forward vigorously led by the ideas, enterprise and energy of our predominantly young population. An emerging India offers enormous opportunities for the youth of Mizoram. I call upon you to join hands with the youth from the rest of the country in forging the future of our nation.

6. Some time back, the capital city of Delhi had witnessed certain tragic incidents of attacks on young people from the north-east. Both the Central Government and the Delhi Government have taken firm action, by not only apprehending and punishing the accused but also putting in place measures to ensure that such incidents do not recur. We must ensure that the pluralistic character of our nation and her thread of unity, which is the collective pride of all Indians, are not weakened by such unacceptable events.


7. Education supports two fundamental objectives of human existence: proliferation of knowledge and formation of character. Higher education especially has a unique role to play in preparing the torch-bearers of tomorrow who will endeavour in different fields - from medicine to engineering, teaching, administration, business, politics and social service – to lead our nation to the high tables of global power.

8. Though our higher education sector has rapidly expanded over the last few years, we have less to trumpet about the quality of our institutes. None of our institutions are ranked in the top two hundred positions by reputed international surveys. While I believe that a few renowned Indian institutions can be better placed with a little more methodical approach, a vast majority of our institutions are mired in mediocrity.

9. Many meritorious Indian students pursue their higher studies from foreign universities. Nobel laureates – Har Gobind Khorana; Subrahmanyam Chandrasekhar; Dr. Amartya Sen; and Venkatraman Ramakrishnan – did their graduate or post-graduate studies in Indian universities before they went abroad for higher learning. It is ironical that our higher education system, which is capable of producing world-class scholars, loses them to foreign universities. A serious scrutiny is necessary to counter this avoidable trend.
10. The annual Conference of Vice Chancellors of Central Universities at Rashtrapati Bhavan provides an opportunity to discuss ways and means to quicken the process of change in our higher education sector. This year’s Conference was held in February and I am happy to mention that the Vice Chancellors had a fruitful engagement with other stakeholders and experts from different fields. I am confident that the takeaways would be implemented within the timeframe. Remember that central universities should be the torchbearers of transformation in India’s higher education.


11. Strengthening academic management is urgently required. To make learning more effective, teaching pedagogy must be refined, curricula up-dated, inter-disciplinary approach adopted and evaluation mechanism reformed. To make faculty gain greater expertise in their field, faculty development programmes must be conducted. To achieve excellence, core competencies must be identified and nurtured. To create quality awareness, every institution must be benchmarked and accredited. It is heartening to note that Mizoram University has been accredited ‘A’ grade by NAAC in 2014.

12. A university must strengthen its linkages with other academic institutes through faculty and student exchange, participation in seminars and workshops, collaborative research, and sharing of academic resources. The National Knowledge Network must be put to good use in these endeavours.

13. An interface with the industry can benefit a university in terms of involvement of industry personnel in curriculum design and project guidance, sponsorship of chair positions, and setting up of incubation centres and laboratories. For that, an industry-interface cell must be set up and industry experts in governance structure co-opted. The issue of lack of industrial presence impeding a healthy industrial interface with central universities located in North-East was discussed during this year’s Conference of Vice Chancellors. Ministry-level coordination is necessary to address the difficulties.


14. A higher educational institution is a role-model for the society. It must leverage all expertise to contribute to the socio-economic development of the region. The central government has launched: (i)Swachh Bharat Mission, aimed at a Clean India by 2019; (ii)Digital India programme, to usher in a digitally-empowered knowledge society; and (iii)Saansad Adarsh Gram Yojana, to create model villages. In the Conference of Vice Chancellors, it was decided that every central university will adopt and develop at least five villages. I am confident that this University will live up to the expectations.

15. Certain global trends are emerging in the higher education sector – be it Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) that offer the advantages of speed, scale and efficiency; or Choice-Based Credit System that provides students mobility across the higher educational system. Universities must recognize these evolutions in education and prepare themselves to deal with this dynamic environment.


16. Our universities have a duty to promote scientific temper amongst their students. A way forward could be to give wings to the ingenious ideas of students and grassroots innovators. Novel ideas that can be transformed into marketable products deserve mentoring. An initiative taken in several central universities is the setting up of Innovation Clubs. Activities of these clubs must be dovetailed with innovation incubators located in IITs and NITs in the region. I am hopeful that several new innovations will spring within a few years’ time.

17. I thank you once again for inviting me to your annual convocation. I wish you all the very best. Let me conclude in the words of Confucius: "Education breeds confidence. Confidence breeds hope. Hope breeds peace”.

Thank you.
Jai Hind.


President of India calls upon youth of Mizoram to join hands with the youth from the rest of the country in forging the future of the nation

The President of India, Shri Pranab Mukherjee attended the 10th annual convocation of Mizoram University today (April 10, 2015) at Aizawl.

Speaking on the occasion, the President saidIndia is today a nation on the move. In every field of activity – be it business, industry, trade, education or culture – we are marching forward vigorously led by the ideas, enterprise and energy of our predominantly young population. An emerging India offers enormous opportunities for the youth of our country, including Mizoram. The youth of Mizoram should join hands with the youth from the rest of the country in forging the future of the nation.

The President said a higher educational institution is a role-model for the society. It must leverage all expertise to contribute to the socio-economic development of the region. The central government has launched various programmes likeSwachh Bharat Mission, Digital India and Saansad Adarsh Gram Yojana. In the Conference of Vice Chancellors, it was decided that every central university will adopt and develop at least five villages and he was confident that Mizoram University will live up to the expectations.

The President quoted Confucius and said “Education breeds confidence. Confidence breeds hope. Hope breeds peace”. Education supports two fundamental objectives of human existence: proliferation of knowledge and formation of character. He said higher education has a unique role to play in preparing the torch-bearers of tomorrow who will endeavour in different fields - from medicine to engineering, teaching, administration, business, politics and social service – to lead our nation to the high tables of global power. Central Universities should lead the transformation in India's higher education.


President of India condoles the passing away of D. Jayakanthan

The President of India, Shri Pranab Mukherjee has condoled the passing away of Shri D. Jayakanthan.

In his Tweet, the President said, “In sad demise of Shri D. Jayakanthan, we have lost a creative genius who contributed immensely to Tamil literature”.


Text of the Address by the Prime Minister to UNESCO

Director General, Madam Bukova

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am truly honoured to address UNESCO.

I feel specially privileged to visit this great institution in its 70th anniversary year.

This milestone reminds us of a fundamental achievement of our age: for the first time in human history, we have an organization for the entire world – the United Nations.

And, through the sweeping change of these decades, through many challenges of our times, and the great progress of this era, the organization has endured and grown.

There have been doubts and skepticism. There is need for urgent reforms.

But, for the nations that came together at its birth; and, for three times as many that joined it later, there is one unshakeable belief:

“Our world is and will remain a better place because of the United Nations.”

It is this faith that has given birth to so many of its institutions that deal with every aspect of human challenges.
The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi launching a website on Yoga, at UNESCO, in Paris on April 10, 2015. The Director-General of UNESCO, Ms. Irina Bokova is also seen.

Our collective goal is to seek a peaceful and prosperous future for our world, in which every nation has a voice;

all peoples have an identity;

all cultures are flowers in a garden;

every human being has a life of dignity;

every child a future of opportunity;

and our planet the chance to preserve its glory.

No organization serves our cause more than this one.

The seeds of our collective destiny are sown in human minds.

It is nurtured by the light of education and the spirit of enquiry.

It makes progress through the marvels of science.

And, it draws strength from the basic character of Nature – the harmony and unity in diversity.

That is why UNESCO was among the first missions of the United Nations.

That is why India values the work of UNESCO so deeply; and, cherishes our partnership so immensely.

I am conscious of the extraordinary legacy of our relationship from the time of UNESCO's birth.

I recall Mahatma Gandhi's message to UNESCO, calling for urgent action to address the needs of education to secure lasting peace;

And, the leadership of Dr. Radhakrishnan, later our first President, in the early years of this institution.

We are grateful for UNESCO's support for education and science, in India and for preservation of our cultural heritage.

Equally, we are privileged to have worked with UNESCO in support of its mission around the world.

For, in the challenges India faces and the dreams that Indians seek, our approach mirrors the ideals of UNESCO.

We have built a modern state in an ancient land, with a timeless tradition of openness and co-existence; and, a society of extraordinary diversity.

The foundation of our Constitution rests on a fundamental principle: the peace and prosperity of all is indivisible from the welfare of the individual;

the strength of the nation is determined by the joined hands of every citizen;

and, real progress is measured through empowerment of the weakest.

This has been our creed since we assumed office nearly a year ago.

And, we shall judge our progress not just by the cold statistics of growth, but by the warm glow of belief and hope on human faces.

For me, it means many things.

We will defend and protect the rights and liberty of every citizen.

We will ensure that every citizen , of every faith, culture and creed has an equal place in our society; belief in her future; and the confidence to pursue it.

Education always had a special place in our tradition.

As our ancient saying goes, it is

व्यये कृते वर्धते एव नित्यं, विद्या धनं सर्व प्रधानं

The wealth that increases by giving,
That wealth is knowledge
and is supreme of all possessions

We have launched the most ambitious programme to provide skills to our youth; and education for every child in the remotest villages.

Our progress will remain a mirage unless women no longer suffer from daily fear, or barriers to opportunity; and, when they are no longer victims of exclusion and prejudice. And, this change must begin with the girl child.

So, the programme to educate and support the girl child in India is one that is closest to my heart. We will ensure that they can go to school; and, also, that they can attend it in safety and dignity.

Today, the digital age has created opportunities beyond imagination; but, digital divide can expand disparities.

On the other hand, digital connectivity and smart phones have create a revolution of possibilities to educate, deliver services and extend development.

This is the most exciting change in our era.

Our Digital India will create a participative, transparent and a responsive government, connected to the citizens. And, we have launched a digital literacy mission to connect each of our 600,000 villages.

The link between habitat and fulfillment of human potential is deep and strong.

So, the highest priority for my Government is to provide a roof over every head; power in every house; sanitation and clean water within everyone's reach; a hope for every child to survive; and a chance for every new mother to love her child.

It also means clean rivers, air that we can breathe and forests filled with the sound of birds.

To achieve these goals, we need not just policies and resources, but even more the power of science.

For us, science is driven by the larger purpose of human development; and, for a safe, sustainable, prosperous future for India.

Science also unites people across borders in a shared purpose.

And, when we share its fruits with those who don't have it, we connect lives and make our world a better place.

India never forgets the help we have received in our early years; today, we are fulfilling our responsibility to others.

Therefore, science is a key priority of India's international engagement.

Culture is a sublime expression of a people; and, the foundations of a society.

UNESCO's initiatives to preserve the world's cultural heritage, including in India, are inspiring.

We see India's rich and diverse cultural heritage as humanity's wealth.

And, we will do everything to preserve it for future generations.

We have launched ‘Heritage Development and Augmentation Yojana – HRIDAY or heart in Hindi – to preserve the cultural heritage of our cities.

We have started a special scheme called “PRASAD”, or offerings – "Pilgrimage Rejuvenation and Spirituality Augmentation Drive" - for rejuvenation of our pilgrim centres.

Madam Chairman,

I speak of our vision and initiatives, because in our own aspirations and efforts, we see the value of UNESCO to our world with great clarity.

In the challenges of our times, we see its purpose with a sense of urgency.

The fault lines in our world are shifting from the boundaries of nations into the web of our societies and the streets of our cities.

The threats are changing from domination by states to destruction by groups.

We fight today not only over what we claim, but also for who we are.

And, in many parts of the world, culture remains a source of conflict.

We have access to communication at the click of a mouse.

We live in a world of information.

Yet, we know that familiarity does not always lead to fraternity; or reduce prejudice.

When Ebola threatens an entire region; the fury of unseasonal storms destroys crops and lives; and, diseases still defeat our most courageous fight, we understand how fragile we are.

When we see people living at the edge of existence; children shut out of classrooms; and, nations without the human resources to shoulder the responsibility of progress, we know that we still have a long way to go.

To be sure, our world has made incredible progress over seven decades. So, our progress should inspire us to meet our challenges.

UNESCO can play a vital role in addressing them.

Culture must connect, not divide, our world.

It should be a bridge to greater respect and understanding between people.

It should join nations in peace and harmony. Across India's neighbourhood, Asia and Indian Ocean, we are retracing our cultural connections to form a closer bond of friendship in this dynamic region.

We must turn deep into our cultures; traditions; and religions; to overcome the rising tide of extremism, violence, and divisions across the world.

We must intensify exchanges between the youth of the world to sow the seeds of a more peaceful world.

Cultures also hold great wealth of traditional knowledge. Societies across the world have evolved them through wisdom gathered over the ages.

And, they hold the secrets to economic, efficient, and, environment friendly solutions to many of our problems.

But, today they are at risk of extinction in our globalised world.

So, we must here make more efforts to revive, preserve and nurture traditional knowledge.

This will also redefine a fundamental truth about human civilization: as our cultures are diverse, knowledge has many sources.

In doing so, we will give ourselves a greater chance to meet our challenges.

We must do more to harness science for human welfare in some of the most vulnerable parts of the world – especially for health and food security.

Climate change is a pressing global challenge. And, it calls for a collective human action; and, a comprehensive response.

We must draw upon our entire wealth of wisdom; the strength of every institution; all possibilities of innovation; and, the power of science.

In India, faith and Nature have had a deep link since ancient times.

For us, the only path to prosperity is the sustainable one.

We make this choice with the natural instincts of our culture and tradition. But, we also do this with a commitment to our future.

We have, for example, set a target of adding 175,000 MW of clean and renewable energy in the next seven years.

Too often, our discussion is reduced to an argument about emission cuts. But, we are more likely to succeed if we offer affordable solutions, not simply impose choices.

That is why I have called for global public action to develop clean energy, that is affordable and accessible to all.

And, it is for the same reason that I call for a change in lifestyle. Because, the emission reduction that we seek will be the natural outcome of how we live.

And, it will also mean a different path to economic well being.

It is with this vision that I had called the United Nations General Assembly last September to declare June 21st as the International Day of Yoga.

Yoga awakens a sense of oneness and harmony with self, society and Nature. By changing our lifestyle and creating consciousness, it can help us deal with climate change and create a more balanced world.

Last December, the UNGA adopted it with a record co-sponsorship in a record time.

It was not just an act of friendship for India. It reflected our collective ability to go beyond our familiar boundaries in search for solutions to common challenges.

The campaign to clean our Ganges River is a mission that connects culture, science, traditional knowledge, education, economy, and, environment; but, it is also about attitudes and lifestyles.

Madam Chairperson,

Outside this hall, I paid respect at the statue of a great Indian philosopher and sage, Shri Aurobindo.

There is much that we can learn from his humanism and spiritualism, from his belief in the unity of individual consciousness with the world outside; the enlightened purpose of education; the service of science; and, the unity of world, founded on national freedom, diversity of civilizations and autonomy of culture.

It is a guiding spirit for the purpose of this institution – the defence of peace in the mind of men.

The 70th anniversary is a moment to celebrate our remarkable journey so far. It is also a time to look ahead with wisdom that has come with time and experience.

Whatever we wish to achieve as United Nations, UNESCO will always have a part to play – whether it is sustainable development, our post-2015 agenda, climate change or peace and security.

UNESCO's responsibilities to our future have become bigger; and, so our resolve must be stronger.

Thank you very much for this opportunity.

Thank you.

The Minister of State for Development of North Eastern Region (I/C), Prime Minister’s Office, Personnel, Public Grievances & Pensions, Department of Atomic Energy, Department of Space & Chairman of the North-Eastern Council (NEC), Dr. Jitendra Singh addressing the press conference on the Concluding Session of the 64th Plenary of the North-Eastern Council (NEC), in New Delhi on April 10, 2015. The Governor of Assam, Nagaland & Tripura, Shri Padmanabha Balakrishna Acharya, the Governor of Arunachal Pradesh, Lt. General Nirbhay Sharma, the Secretary, North-Eastern Council (NEC), Shri Ameising Luikham and other dignitaries are also seen.
Northeast part of PM's 'India vision': Dr. Jitendra Singh

The Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) of the Ministry of Development of North-Eastern Region (DoNER), MoS PMO, Personnel, Public Grievances, Pensions, Atomic Energy and Space, and Chairman NEC, Dr Jitendra Singh said that this was one of the best times for India, particularly for the Northeast which was part of Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi’s “India vision”. The Minister was addressing Governors and Chief Ministers of the eight States on the second day of 64th Plenary Meeting of North-Eastern Council (NEC) here today.

Dr. Jitendra Singh said, it is a golden opportunity when on the one hand, the entire world is looking up to India as a place of happening and on the other hand, Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi, who has emerged as a world leader of international reckoning, inspires a renewed feeling of national esteem through his concept of “Make in India” which is envisaged to be achieved through “Make in Northeast”. In this context, he referred to Prime Minister’s original description of eight States of Northeast as “Ashta Lakshmi”, which not only symbolizes a historic but also a perspective connotation for growth, development and economy. Nothing can be more significant than the fact that during his very first visit to Northeast as Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi announced the setting up of six Agricultural Colleges in the North-East Region (NER) and laid emphasis on developing the NER as a hub of organic farming.

Dr. Jitendra Singh said, besides poor connectivity and accessibility, another major problem faced by Northeast is youth exodus because of poor opportunities of higher education and meager avenues of employment. Keeping this in mind, Government of India has announced setting up of Sports University in Manipur and launched two ambitious schemes, “Ishaan Uday” - special scholarship scheme for students of the region and “Ishaan Vikas” - a scheme to provide apprenticeship facility to students of the region in IITs, NIITs and NIFTs of other parts of the country. Besides this, hostels for youth and students of Northeast are being brought up in different cities and the work on two such hostels in Delhi and one exclusive girls’ hostel in Bengaluru has already started, he added.

Describing the Governors and Chief Ministers as the guardians and torch-bearers of development plans envisaged by Government of India for Northeast, Dr. Jitendra Singh called upon them to render their kind inputs and suggestions in order to enable the DoNER Ministry to function in close coordination with them and to live up to the diverse expectations of the various sections of society in the eight different States of Northeast. He said, he has been personally in touch individually with each of the Governors and Chief Ministers of Northeast and will always be open to their inputs for fulfilling the dream of bringing the eight North-Eastern States at par with the other States of India.


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