University students, attending a National Integration Camp (NIC) here, have been challenged to think differently so that they could contribute to the creation of an “inclusive society.”
“The term national integration binds the people together with one common bond despite our inherent diversities and the feeling of oneness among citizens of any nation is important for its overall stability and growth,” Prof. Khageswar Pradhan, educationist and Chancellor of SOA (Deemed to be University), said while addressing over 200 NSS volunteers from ten states on Monday night.
Prof. Pradhan was speaking as the chief guest at the inauguration of the week-long NIC in the SOA campus. The camp, attended by students from 10 states representing 21 different universities, has been organized to mark the golden jubilee of NSS which was founded in 1969.
Stating that national integration continued to be a crucial issue in India, Prof. Pradhan said that there were divisive factors, inherent to the geography and culture of the country, which posed a serious threat to the country’s unity and integrity.
He said that conscious efforts should be made by all concerned to preserve the nation’s cultural diversity in which the youth had to play a crucial role.
Addressing the program as guests of honour, Mr. Tejeswar Parida, President of Khadi and Village Industries, Odisha and Dr. Sruti Mohapatra, eminent social worker and founder of ‘Swabhimaan’, also urged the NSS volunteers to come out with new ideas and contribute towards changing of the mindset of the society.
SOA’s Vice-Chancellor Prof. Amit Banerjee presided over the program which was also attended by Mr. R.Gokulkrishnan, new Regional Director of NSS in Bhubaneswar, Mr. M.Ramakrishna, outgoing Regional Director of NSS, Dr. Jyoti Ranjan Das, Dean (Students’ Welfare) of SOA and Dr. Nachiketa Sharma, SOA’s Program Coordinator for NSS.
Urging the young volunteers to “think little bigger and bolder,” Dr. Mohapatra said it was time for them to move from “integration to inclusion” as the world was talking of ‘inclusion’. “We have created a lot of exclusion over a period and we need to move out of this situation and think of inclusion,” she said.
Dr. Mohapatra, bound to a wheel chair after being hurt in a road accident years ago, said there was a need to confront the “you can’t culture” as it was an impediment against people scaling new heights.
“Though I had won gold medals in academics and played basketball at the national level, people could only see my wheel chair. I felt rejected by the society,” she said adding “the problem is not with the individuals or disabilities.”
“Never think of what you cannot do,” she said adding continued efforts had led to the government enacting five strong laws protecting the rights of the disabled in the country.
“Indians participating in the para-Olympics had won more medals compared to those who competed in the Olympic Games,” Dr. Mohapatra said.
Mr. Parida said the NSS, born in 1969 coinciding with the birth centernary of Mahatma Gandhi, was based on Gandhian principles of nation building. He urged the young people to work for national reconstruction and social change while stating that the country needed inclusive development.
Students need to think and come up with ideas to confront the economic and social challenges of the country, he said adding their ideas should be put to use during policy formulation by the state.
“NSS volunteers need to break the stereotypes and get inspired by the Mahatma’s principles. You need to be the bridge between the government and the people,” he said.
The participants in the NIC took out a procession on Tuesday morning on the crowded Janpath showcasing the diversity of India which was preceded by a Yoga session conducted by SOA’s Yoga instructor, Mr. Akhil Chandra Rana.