The University of Mumbai on Thursday conferred an honorary LL.D (Doctor of Laws) to Dr MS Swaminathan at a special convocation ceremony in the hands of the President of India Dr Pranab Mukherjee. The event was held at the Sir Cowasjee Jehangir Hall in the University’s Fort campus on Thursday afternoon.

The President said it was a rare opportunity for him to confer the Honorary LL.D of University of Mumbai upon Dr. MS Swaminathan. “The University of Mumbai, whose alumni include Mahatma Gandhi has always recognised leaders who have played a transformational role in various fields. Those conferred Honorary D. Litt in the past include eminent scholars and social reformers like Sir RG Bhandarkar, Dadabhai Naoroji, Sir CV Raman and Sir M Visvesvaraya”.

The President also said the higher education sector has a crucial role in the national developmental effort. “Being the storehouse of traditional wisdom, as also the nursery of new knowledge, the higher education ecosystem will influence various growth centres of the economy. Growth of the economy depends on higher education in important ways. The quality of training provided to students employed by the economy determines the level of its competence. Induction of quality manpower is the first point of contact that the economy has with the higher education system. The graduates have to meet the skill-set requirements of the domestic economy. The course work in our campuses must be aligned to the needs of the industry” he added.

After accepting the honorary degree, Dr Swaminathan said that he had no words to describe his happiness. “It’s a privilege when you see an honorary degree from a university of this stature” he said. He added that students from the university should work towards addressing the issues of hunger and malnutrition. “So many people in the adjoining Thane district are suffering from hidden hunger due to loss of micro nutrients. Students should work towards addressing these concerns”.

President Mukherjee said, “Universities and higher education institutions are the best fora for free exchange of views. We should embrace free conversation and even argument, leaving behind narrow mindsets and thoughts. The lesson for a modern Indian university is to ensure that this great tradition finds new life and vigour within its precincts. There should be no room for intolerance, prejudice and hatred within the spaces of our educational institutions. They must act as flag bearers for the co-existence of multiple views, thoughts and philosophies”