Open and Flexible Learning: Commonwealth Experience and India’s Challenge

Dhanarajan, Gajaraj
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Corporate Author
Commonwealth of Learning (COL)

Open and Flexible Learning: Commonwealth Experience and India's Challenge, Inaugural Remarks, Sub-theme: Flexible and Open Learning, Main theme: Technology Enabled Flexible Education and Development at the: 76th Annual Meeting of the Association of Indian Universities, Central University of Chandigarh, Chandigarh, India, 5 - 8 December 2001 by: Gajaraj Dhanarajan (Professor Emeritus) President and Chief Executive Officer, The Commonwealth of Learning // Colleagues, it is both a pleasure and a privilege to share some thoughts with you at your 76th annual gathering on the sub-theme: Flexible and Open Learning. I could never have imagined some 42 years ago, that I would have this rare honour of addressing a meeting of academic leaders in this great country. It was then that I first came to India from Malaysia as an 18 year old to enter college in Tamil Nadu. Spurred by a sense of nationalism and economics, my father decided that his first-born should receive a college education in his motherland; and so I did! I am not sure how it is today, but in the late 50s "freshies" never met Vice Chancellors. Vice Chancellors then occupied another planet (some would say that they still do); so, you can appreciate my sense of delight and awe being here; my father will be proud of me! Having said that, I am also reminded of a speech made by that great Indian Mohandas K. Gandhi in early 1942 at the Benares Hindu University. On that occasion, looking at his audience of learned individuals he was heard to have said that "A feeling of nervousness overpower me when I am in the midst of learned men . . . In your midst, I feel tongue tied." He went on to further add, after looking at the topic given to him, that "The inspiration has come, but I do not know how you will welcome my plain speaking". I too am tongue-tied and I am inspired, as Indian Vice Chancellors continue to be a formidable specie. They are tough, brave, politically well connected, have tremendous responsibility, have a huge self esteem and some would claim to be almost infallible. And, they have a difficult job.

Open and Distance Learning (ODL),Flexible Learning