|SPEECH BY SHRI K.R.NARAYANAN, PRESIDENT
OF INDIA, WHILE RECEIVING THE DOCTORATE HONORIS CAUSA DEGREE
AT THE UNIVERSITY OF SAN MARCOS
THURSDAY, APRIL 30, 1998
Manuel Paredes Manrique, Rector of the University of San Marcos, Distinguished
faculty members, and students, Friends
am grateful to you and to the University of San Marcos for the honour
being bestowed on me today. The fact that your University is the oldest
institution of higher learning in both the Americas make me even more
sensible of the honour.
historic building in which we are gathered today, with its graceful arches
and beautiful courtyards, is reminiscent in many ways of the architecture
of the Indo-Islamic period of Indian history. Some Peruvian scholars have
noted that there are several iconographic motifs in Peru's colonial art
that can be singled out as having their earliest origin in India. The
aesthetically striking 17th century balconies of Lima and the splendour
of some of the colonial palaces and churches evoke in many ways the luxury
of Moghul palaces in Agra and Delhi.
is a special link that India has with Ibero-America. In 1492, Christopher
Columbus discovered South America. He believed that the lands he discovered
were either parts of Asia or the sub-continent of India itself since his
intention was to reach India by sailing westward from Spain. He called
the regions he discovered "Las Indias", and the people he encountered
there he named "Los Indios". For three to four centuries thereafter the
Indian appellation stuck. Even the laws and statutes drawn up for the
governing of the new colonies of Spain came to be known as "Derecho Indiano"
or Indian Law.
is in the study of a country like Peru that we realize that the ancient,
original inhabitants of these lands were the creators of highly evolved
civilizations in the pre-colonial period. The Incas of Peru have fascinated
students of history around the world for their great prowess in empire-building
and the systematic manner in which they unified the far-flung regions
of their empire with solid institutions and a common language. In the
study of such ancient American civilizations one finds that they share
much in common with the ancient inhabitants of India, including their
intimate knowledge of the stellar constellations and some of their social
customs. In colonial times, apart from the cultural and social exchanges
that took place, the botanical exchange between India and the New World
was particularly interesting. Sugarcane, which has played such an important
part in the history and economy of Latin America came to Spain from India.
In exchange we received the potato, whose original homeis Peru. Spanish
Jesuit priests also brought the quinine of the jungles of Peru to India.
the possibilities of interaction between our two parts of the world have
multiplied in a manner unimagined in the past. My young friends who are
students at your University can access up-to-date information on India
on the Internet. The power of the human mind has enabled us to reach out
across the oceans traversed by our forefathers in methods of instant communication.
India and Peru are thus engaged in a new voyage of discovery with dimensions
as important as the historic voyage of Columbus. Today, this new voyage
is building a new arc of friendship between us. And we do so in a new
age of democracy, freedom and equality, putting the inequities of the
colonial age behind us.
come to this time honoured institution as the representative of a country
whose traditions have always accorded the highest value to knowledge and
learning. The Father of the Indian Nation, Mahatma Gandhi, believed deeply
in the ancient Indian aphorism, "Sa Vidya Ya Vimuktaya" - education is
that which liberates. He said that education and knowledge should include
all training that is useful for the service of mankind. Another great
Indian, Rabindranath Tagore wrote, "The great use of education is not
merely to collect facts, but to know man." And he wanted through education
to lift man from his parochial moorings to the international plane by
transforming him into the universal man.
developing countries such as ours, education is a powerful instrument
for development. The task of education is to inculcate a respect for democracy,
freedom, human rights and social justice for every man, woman and child.
Education must also develop our human resources in the fields of health,
help in the empowerment of women and also enable our young citizens to
face the challenges of the global market place.
the time of our independence, less than 20 per cent of our people were
enumerated as literate. Mindful of the importance of education as a fundamental
input to development, we have spread literacy and education at every level.
We have consolidated efforts at the grassroots level to promote literacy
which we hope will further jump from the current level of 52 per cent
to a substantially higher target. Already our National Literacy Mission
aims at imparting literacy to an additional 100 million people by 1999.
This will further bolster our programme to attain higher levels of excellence.
Impressive strides made in the promotion of higher education have been
testified by the fact that country now has 207 universities. 6.4 million
students are beneficiaries of the educational facilities provided at the
vast network of colleges and universities. Apart from our own people,
nearly 10000 students from abroad are also studying in these higher centres
of learning. I hope that in the future we will see increasing exchanges
between the faculties of universities and also our students. Through such
exchanges, we can face the tasks and challenges of national development
with greater knowledge and confidence. Our rich cultural traditions will
also be helpful in providing a special meaning and content to this interaction.
I have been in your country for a brief while, I am already deeply moved
by the spontaneous affection and affinity for India that I see on the
faces of your people and in the warm welcome that my wife and I have been
accorded everywhere we have gone. Let us work together to strengthen the
foundations of the friendship and understanding between our two countries
by intensifying our knowledge about each other so that coming generations
of Indians and Peruvians may mutually benefit from this important enterprise.