Dhaka, Mar. 4 : President Pranab Mukherjee on Monday complimented the Bangladeshi Government-led by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and the people of the country for their achievements in all aspects of human development.
"It is this extraordinary spirit of humanity and confidence that has been instrumental in the advancement of Bangladesh by leaps and bounds. Bangladesh has emerged as one of the fastest growing economies in South Asia. This is laudable," said President Mukherjee in his convocation address and acceptance speech at the University of Dhaka.
President Mukherjee said Bangladesh has acquitted itself in an exemplary manner in many social indicators.
" It is seen that the literacy rate amongst youth in Bangladesh - in the age bracket of 15 to 24 years - is now 77 percent while life expectancy at birth is now about 69 years. You have made good progress and set new benchmarks in the amelioration of poverty, eradication of hunger and universalization of education. The school textbook programme of Bangladesh is known to be one of the largest in the world - and the gross enrollment ratio at the secondary school level is now about 51 percent," said President Mukherjee.
"While the poverty ratio in Bangladesh is about 31 percent, you have world class achievements on which the edifice of a prosperous and developed Bangladesh will be built. I am sure that you, the youth of Bangladesh, will carry forward this great task with dedication," he added.
President Mukherjee said ''if, today, Bangladesh has embraced democracy, it is largely due to the values and principles which its people held dear when they fought for their independence in 1971''.
"You have been steadfast. You, better than anyone else, know that democracy means the ability to respect differences and allow the will of the people to prevail for the common good. You know that it means respect for the rule of law and building of strong institutions along with free speech and a vibrant media. I am confident that democratic traditions in Bangladesh will grow stronger with time and that you will preserve democracy with your constant vigil," he added.
President Mukherjee, who felicitated all the students of this university who have successfully graduated in their respective academic disciplines, said Dhaka University is the oldest and largest public University in Bangladesh.
"Today, as we recall its old reputation as the "Oxford of the East", we note with pride its place among the top institutions of contemporary Asia. Students who graduate today are following in the footsteps of the great alumni who passed through these portals in the generations before you," said President Mukherjee.
"The names of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, Tajuddin Ahmed, Satyendranath Bose, R. C. Majumdar, Humayun Ahmed, Buddhadeb Basu and Shamsur Rahman come to mind. They include many of the brightest minds of the last century - who distinguished themselves through their academic achievements," he added.
President Mukherjee said the halls of the Dhaka University were the crucible and the ''Karmabhoomi'' of the creation of Bangladesh.
"No one who comes here can forget how uniquely this University is identified with your nationhood. The halls of this great institution were the crucible and the ''Karmabhoomi'' of the creation of Bangladesh. Numberless architects of the Liberation War sacrificed their lives in this campus. And before them there were the pioneers," said President Mukherjee.
"Who can forget the day of February 21, 1952 when the students of Dhaka University defied the banning of public rallies by the then Government? The sacrifices made by the martyrs of the language movement have now been recognized by the United Nations, which has declared February 21 as the "International Mother Language Day"," he added.
President Mukherjee recalled how the students of Dhaka University heroically resisted the brutal attack on the night of March 25, 1971 that killed more than three hundred of their colleagues, faculty members and intelligentsia.
"They along with many others had been a bulwark against the intolerance and hatred which had descended on this land - and who, in the years after Liberation, took forward the socio-political transformation of the country," he said.
President Mukherjee further said ''today, when Bangladesh is free and liberated and is happily engaged in its own development, the sacrifices of its martyrs are vindicated''.
"It is because of them that the youth of Bangladesh are today able to call this land their own. Young men and women like you are the engine of socio-economic development of our region. The future of Bangladesh is in your hands. You should know that you have a past, which is steeped in glory, and a future that is full of promise. I have been deeply impressed by the maturity, awareness and involvement of the youth of Bangladesh in the task of nation building," said President Mukherjee.
"It is a labour of love - that is how the Father of this nation - Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman described his inspiration: "As a man, what concerns mankind concerns me. As a Bengalee I am deeply involved in all that concerns Bengalees. This abiding involvement is born and nourished by love, enduring love, which gives meaning to my politics and to my very being"," he added.
President Mukherjee was awarded the Doctor of Laws Honoris Causa from Dhaka University. (ANI)