GUWAHATI, Sept 28 � Educationist Prof Andre Beteille, who was the chief guest at the first convocation of Krishna Kanta Handiqui State Open University held at the Gauhati Medical College and Hospital auditorium today, said that the universities of the country faced a challenge in harmonising their objectives, which included advancing the standards of learning while maintaining a socially inclusive character.
A total of 1,257 learners belonging to different bachelor degrees, PG diplomas and doctoral programmes were awarded certificates and medals in the convocation. Among those were Haresh Chandra Boruah and Minoti Bujarbaruah � aged 71 and 61 respectively, being the oldest graduates of the varsity.
Prof Beteille referred to Calcutta University, which produced the first two women graduates of the British kingdom � ahead of Oxford and Cambridge universities.
Prof Beteille, who is the Chancellor of North Eastern Hill University, Shillong and Ashoka University, Haryana, besides being the professor Emeritus of Sociology, University of Delhi, said that commitment and efficiency should be the two principles in the functioning of a university even when it meant being politically incorrect.
Prof Asha Singh Kanwar, president and CEO, Commonwealth of Learning, Vancouver, Canada, was formally honoured with the D Litt (Honoris Causa) at the convocation.
Prof Kanwar, in her address, lauded the KKH State Open University for providing opportunities to thousands of men and women � diverse in terms of age and social background � to gain qualifications ranging from certificates to diplomas, degrees and doctorates through its academic programmes.
Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi, in his address stressed the need for finding solutions to diverse problems through education and employment generation.
Prof Srinath Baruah, Vice Chancellor of KKH State Open University, in his welcome speech gave an account of its functioning since December 2006 as the 14th Open University in the country and the only State Open University in the Northeast.
�The university has, among others, offered free education to 56 jail inmates, eight visually impaired and 48 differently-abled learners besides 4,748 youths in vocational trades till date,� he said.