Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Nov 30:
President Pranab Mukherjee winded up his two-day visit to Odisha and returned to New Delhi on Sunday evening.
An address to the students of Rama Devi Women’s College on the occasion of its golden jubilee celebration rounded off a day hectic activity for President.
He inaugurated the Vivekananda Memorial Hall at Shree Ramakrishna Ashram at Rampur in Kalahandi district in the morning and then visited the Shree Jagannath Temple in Puri before rushing back to the capital to attend the golden jubilee celebrations of Rama Devi Women’s college.
Addressing students of the college, the President called for a thorough overhaul of our education system to restore the exalted place that the country enjoyed in the domain of knowledge and learning in the ancient times.
“There was a time when students from all over the world came to acquire knowledge in seats of learning like Taxila, Nalanda and Bikramshila. But today, our students have to go abroad for higher learning and research,” the President said calling for a reversal of the trend.
It is a matter of great concern that despite over two crore students taking admission in over 35, 000 colleges and 723 universities in the country, not one of our centres of higher learning figures in the list of top 200 higher learning centres in the world, he said.
Paying glowing tributes to the glorious cultural and religious traditions of Odisha, the president said the Kalinga War, which converted emperor Ashoka from Chandashola to Dharmashoka, was an epoch-making event in the annals of Indian history.
Extolling the immense contributions of Maa Rama Devi, after whom the college is named, Mukherjee urged the students to follow in her footsteps. “Each of you must take a vow to educate at least one girl to achieve the goal of total literacy that Rama Devi sought to achieve all her life,” he told the students.
Mukherjee also recounted the great contributions of Utkalmani Gopabnadhu Das, Utkal Gaurab Madhusdan Dash, Pandit Godabarish Mishra, Nabakrushna Choudhury, Dr Harekrushna Mahatab and Biju Patnaik to the making of modern Odisha.
Speaking extempore, the President surprised everyone with his knowledge of the rich history of the state and its famous personalities. This was in sharp contrast to Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, who read out his customary insipid speech from a prepared text.
Earlier, the President visited the Shree Jagannath Temple in Puri and had a darshan of the deities.