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STARS Day 2019 celebrated at VIT

Students should strive to remove poverty, illiteracy: Dr. G.Viswanathan, Founder and Chancellor of VIT 

STARS Day 2019 celebrated at VIT

VELLORE: Students should strive towards and dedicate themselves towards removing the twin ills of illiteracy and poverty, Founder and Chancellor of Vellore Institute of Technology (VIT), Dr. G.Viswanathan said on Saturday.

Delivering the Presidential Address on the occasion of STARS Day at VIT Vellore, Dr. G Viswnathan said that among many programmes underway at VIT, the one that was very close to me continues to be the STARS project. Support the Advancement of Rural Students (STARS) of the Centre for Sustainable Rural Development and Research Studies (CSRD&RS) has been rural areas higher education since 2008. Each year, beneficiaries of STARS Scheme who had now landed in good jobs all over the world meet along with their families on the occasion of STARS Day.  

VIT has taken new initiative of STARS which aims to provide opportunities to pursue quality higher education to the underprivileged rural students. The Father of our nation, Mahatma Gandhi had rightly said that the soul of India lies in its Villages.VIT University believes that financial roadblocks must never impede opportunities to academic excellence and success. The STARS (Support The Advancement of Rural Students) program is an initiative driven by this very belief in the year 2008. 

Each year, sixty-two students are chosen from rural Tamil Nadu, each of these students are stars in their own right, having topped the higher secondary examinations conducted by the State Government in their respective districts. Initially this scheme was started in Seven Districts namely Cuddalore, Krishnagiri, Dharmapuri, Thiruvannamalai, Kancheepuram, Villupuram and Vellore. Later STARS scheme was extended to all 31 Districts except in Chennai from 2009 onwards. 

Dr. Viswanathan said that he belonged to a very poor agricultural family and he had witnessed and experienced at first hand for himself, the problems and challenges of the poor pursuing higher education. “Being born poor and dying poor is not a mistake, but the situation of such people being poor life long should change. They should also get education and progress in the country,” he said. Sharing his experiences further, Dr. Viswanathan said that he at times wondered what would have happened had he failed in school and in such a situation, his father might have asked him to help him at the farm. He recalled that it was only during his college education that he had visited Chennai for the first time. 

He also said that had a fear of English language as all his education was in Tamil medium and added that he went on to become his Loyola College’s representative in debating events. He also said that once when he visited Washington, the capital city of the Untied States, two Tamilians hailing from remote villages in Dharmapuri and North Arcot district took him around the city. “This is the power of education,” Dr. Viswanathan remarked, adding that this was the objective of STARS Scheme. He noted that about 75 per cent of STARS’ beneficiaries were first generation graduates. He appealed to the students to take good care of their parents, the society and the nation and once again re-iterated that they should strive towards removing illiteracy and poverty in India.

In his address A.Kaliyamurthy, former Superintendent of Police Tiruchirappalli, said that there was no greater virtue than providing quality education to the poor. He said that STARS Scheme has been founded with the aim of bringing an improvement in the quality of the lives of the poor and in this endevaour, Dr. Viswanathan had done a remarkable job. He said that a University was higher than a place of worship. “Only if you are a good human being, you can come to VIT,” he remarked.  

He said that the importance and speciality of education was that it was wealth to the poor, protection to women and an asset to the country. Mr. Kaliyamurthy said that education was the only source of help and protection to help an individual to progress and grow in life. Unlike wealth that could be inherited from ancestors, education had to be earned by individuals and one had to work hard for that.  

Vice President Dr. Sekar Viswananthan, Vice Chancellor Dr. Anand A.Samuel, Pro-Vice Chancellor Dr. S.Narayanan, Registrar Dr. K.Sathiyanarayanan and Dr. Sundarrajan, In Charge of CSRD&RS and Convenor Dr. S. Meenakshi were present on the occasion. On the occasion, STARS Students celebrated the 80th birthday of the Chancellor by cutting a cake. They also handed over Rs. 85,000 to the STARS Scheme for the benefit of other students. N.U Azagiri proposed vote of thanks.