M J Akbar calls for 'faith equality, not supremacy'
Union Minister M J Akbar on Monday said South Asia was a "sea of faiths, opinions, voices" and the people had to ensure they lived by "faith equality", and not "faith supremacy".
At the convocation ceremony of the South Asian University (SAU) here, the minister said the individuals had to find their own way to faith.
"It is not for us to judge whose way is better or whose way is worse," the minister of state for external affairs said.
Akbar, who was the chief guest at the convocation, said freedom, faith and equality were the pillars of modernity.
"Modernity must have freedom. Many countries got freedom from the British, but they forgot to transfer it to their own people. Freedom is not the one exercised by governments. That is a small part. Freedom is the one exercised by individuals," the BJP leader said.
Holding that no nation could be called modern unless it ensured gender equality, he said modernity was also determined by the social and economic empowerment of women. The varsity currently operates from Akbar Bhawan.
"This university has succeeded in translating a vision into a reality in a short span. It has already produced about 900 scholars," he said.
Applications for admission to SAU –primarily for the member-nations of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) –witnessed a rise this year, reflecting its popularity among students of the region, he said.
For this academic year, the varsity received 7,188 applications for 238 seats. Most applicants –5875 –were from India, followed by Afghanistan (854), Bangladesh (236) and Nepal (104).
"The number of applications for SAU programmes jumped considerably in 2017-18 as compared to previous academic years," Akbar said at the convocation, presided over by Deep Kumar Upadhyay, Nepal's ambassador to India. A total of 185 students were conferred their Masters and MPhil degrees in various programmes. Eleven programme toppers were honoured with the SAU Gold Medal.