Congress president and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi delivers the convocation address at Aligarh Muslim University. She is the second women to deliver convocation address at the prestigious university. She said, Aligarh Muslim University, for over a century, has made its name as a strong pillar of nationalist and secular education by being a steadfast inculcator of modern education and has kept alive the principles of its founder by following the path shown by him. The greatest asset of Indian republic is unity in diversity and its ‘ganga-jamuni tehzeeb’. AMU is the true epitomization of this ‘tehzeeb’. This university’s commitment regarding ‘unity in diversity’ is not just an act of tokenism but a truth evolving from the experience of its founders. It is proof of the fact that unity in diversity is not just a hollow slogan but a pledge and those principles that are associated with the foundation of this university and get reflected in its teaching, outlook as well as its day to day life. I am aware of the fact that case regarding minority status of AMU is pending in Supreme Court. I assure you that I would make every possible effort to help maintain the strong reputation of this great university. Vice Chancellor talked to me about improving the infrastructure of the university. Few days ago I even got the memorandum of your students union. I will surely talk to government regarding all these issues and make every possible effort to do my bit to resolve this issue. My family has had a deep relationship with the Aligarh Muslim University. Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru had such relations that despite his busy schedule he took out time to repeatedly visit this place. The University has awarded me an honorary degree as well and student union has also accorded me with a lifetime membership. I am proud that you have always enthusiastically supported us and many of the institutions here derive their name from the members of my family. The Culture of India is one of the greatest evolutions in the human civilization. Any facet of life, whether social, cultural, political or literary, has not remain untouched by its influence. Whether one observes the grandeur of the surrounding buildings and architecture , turn the pages of history or looks at its music, poetry and painting , our culture’s signs will be found everywhere. It has got embedded in our souls. Islam has amalgamated with soil of this country in a such a way that now it has become its inseparable part. Here Muslim community has established a dignified image and played an important role in country’s development. Pt. Jawahar Lal Nehru have described this contribution in innumerable words in his book ‘Discovery of India’. This community has given India a great crop of leaders who played an important part in our freedom struggle. This university is itself associated with many great personalites. Abdul Gaffar Khan, Maulana Shaukat Ali, Mohammed Ali, Zakhir Sahab, Hasrat Mohani, Rafi Ahmad Kidwai, Abdul Majeed Khwaja, K N Ashraf, Saifuddin Kitchlew and Sheikh Abdullah are few of the great examples who inspired the future generations.
It gladdens me to know that so many young women are receiving their degrees today. No community can really progress or prosper if half of its population lags behind. Aligarh Muslim University, Abdullah Girls College has produced remarkable women like Dr. Rasheed Jahan and Ismat Chugtai and many others who through sheer grit and determination confronted social prejudice and antagonism to earn their place in life and the respect of their peers. They are inspirational figures. They should be your ideal. The path of success and independence has never been easy and change is never given to anyone on a platter. You have to struggle, you have to work hard, you have to persevere and never despair. You will confront situations, you will meet people who will try to discourage you, you will meet people who will tell you things cannot change, do not believe them. The country needs women professionals in every field of life. You owe this to your parents, your teachers and this great institution that has given you the opportunity to pursue your dream. You can and you will succeed. All of you young women and men have had great and good fortune and privilege of spending some years in the portal of Aligarh Muslim University deriving the intellectual and moral sustenance that prepares you for your future. Many of you will go on to great endeavors and high achievements as indeed you should. But it is my hope that as you make your way through life you will give thought to those who have been less privileged than you, that whenever you can you will extend them a helping hand. The world is an unequal place but its harshness can be mitigated greatly if we only remember that we are the members of a larger society in which all of us must live and share. It is up to us too and it is our responsibility not just to do well for ourselves but to ensure that the country at large and our people at the whole make progress. Today youth are the future leaders of the nation. You are the future leaders of our nation. We want you to develop a questioning outlook to look beyond the obvious, to question that you see and to engage with the real issues. Only then can you provide leadership not only in the areas of knowledge but in other spheres as well. You must believe in yourself and your ability, always tinkering it with the knowledge that however imperfect the world may be there is always a larger good illustrious goal and the greater community than the individual. As Illama Iqbal said, “sitaro se aage jahan aur bhi hai” (there is a world beyond stars) . If you keep this in your mind you will be in harmony with Sir Syed’s vision and wisdom which led him to establish the institution form which you are graduating. And if you do then this university, its faculty, its college and its students will remain in forefront of India’s continuing resurgence. The ideals of this great institution are to touch the sky. They are echoed in your university Tarana, ‘jo abra yahan se uthega who saare jahan mein barsega’(the clouds to leave this place shall rain all over the world). My blessings will be always with you. Jai Hind.