President Ram Nath Kovind Wednesday said higher education institutions like Jawaharlal Nehru University should be at the forefront of research on infectious diseases and create “scientific hand-holding mechanisms”, given the current scenario of the Covid-19 pandemic.

He was speaking at the fourth convocation of the university. A total of 603 students were awarded their PhDs in the online convocation.

“Today the world is in a state of crisis because of Covid-19. In the prevailing scenario of epidemics and pandemics, the National Education Policy 2020 states that it is critical for Higher Education Institutions to take the lead in undertaking research in areas of infectious diseases, epidemiology, virology, diagnostics, instrumentation, vaccinology and other relevant areas,” said Kovind.

“The related social issues also need to be studied, preferably with a multi-disciplinary approach. In this endeavour, universities like JNU should be at the forefront to develop specific hand-holding mechanisms and promote innovation among student communities,” he said.

Citing Mahatma Gandhi, who said education should be used for progress of the country, Kovind said, “I urge upon all of you to always remember the debt we owe to our society and the nation. It is your sacred duty to repay this debt by reaching out to the people who are left behind in the country’s journey for growth and development.”

“We attained political freedom in 1947. Attainment of social and economic freedom by many segments of the people of India is a work in progress. The country is moving in that direction. The guidance of Mahatma Gandhi and Babasahab Ambedkar for serving the country and its people should be followed by students of all the universities,” he said.

Kovind also said the newly unveiled statue of Swami Vivekananda on the JNU campus “will keep reminding students

of the universal ideals preached and practiced by Swamiji”.

Vice-Chancellor M Jagadesh Kumar spoke of new schools and centres opened in JNU and said the HEFA (Higher Education Funding Agency) fund will “help in the development of university infrastructure and research/innovation programs”. 
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