MUMBAI: The Vice President of India Shri M. Hamid Ansari has laid stress on empowering women and minorities through education. Participating in an “Interactive programme with the students of Sofia College for Women in Mumbai (Maharashtra)” today, the Vice President answered queries on wide ranging topics covering education, sports, role of media and international relations. Answering a question, ShriAnsari said that although a good beginning has been made with the enactment of Right To Education Act, the primary education results are very uneven. “Education is a partnership process. It is the responsibility of the parents to send their children to school, and it is the responsibility of the schools to impart good education” the Vice President said. He further added that through RTE, the process of admitting children in schools is largely being met, but the school system is failing in imparting quality education. Shri Ansari said, the scenario can be changed to better through society’s intervention rather than government initiated measures. Commenting about growing stress level in the field of education, Vice President observed that “excellence requires hardwork. The challenge is to transform stress into enjoyment.” ShriAnsari also said that sports should made part of the curriculum under the RTE. “Right To Sports must be part of Right To Education. That is where the talent lies, which India needs to locate, if it were to excel in variety of sports” he said. Replying to a query whether he supported reservation for minorities, Shri Ansari said “Our Constitution provides for equality of opportunities. If some people are found to be less than equal, then the state has to take necessary steps to place them on an equal footing.”He further added that he would refrain from using the word ‘reservation’, and rather prefer to call it ‘affirmative action’. The Vice President expressed his disappointment over present representation of women in Parliament. He observed that women MPs numbering about 60 in a house of 545 is abysmally low. ShriAnsari said the Bill to ensure greater opportunities for women has been passed in the RajyaSabha, and hoped that it would be passed by the Lower House soon. “If we fail to create equal opportunities, we lose out on constructive contribution of many brighter women” he added. Speaking about media censorship, the Vice President said that some kind of checks and balances are necessary, but we should be careful enough to skate on the right side, so as not to trample on freedom of speech. He observed that in earlier days most newspapers had eminent editors, who set the pace of debate in society. Shri Ansari conceded that freedom of speech vs censorship and control is a never ending debate, and even in UK, as many as seven Royal Commissions have looked into the matter. Shri Ansari answered many other questions ranging from India’s chances of getting a permanent seat at the UN Security Council, youth around the world being swayed by ISIS ideology in Iraq and Syria, need for retaining English as a link language of administration etc. The Governor of Maharashtra, Mr. C VidyaSagarRao was also present as the Guest of Honour. Sofia College Principal Sister AnandaAmritmahal anchored the student’s interaction with the Vice President of India. In the afternoon, the Vice President also paid a visit to the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research at Colaba, Mumbai and interacted with Faculty and Ph.D students. Tomorrow, ShriAnsari will pay a visit to the Asiatic Society, Mumbai, before flying back to New Delhi completing his four day Mangalore, Goa, Karwar and Mumbai tour.

About Sanjay Trivedi

Sanjay Trivedi is honorary editor of Asia Times. He is senior Indian Journalist having vast experience of 25 years. He worked in Janmabhoomi, Vyapar, Divya Bhaskar etc. newspapers and TV9 Channel as well as www.news4education.com. He is serving as Media Officer in Gujarat Technological University, the university which controlling 440 colleges of Engineering, Management, Pharmacy & Architecture colleges in Gujarat.

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