Vice President Hamid Ansari on Saturday said that there is an urgent need to defend the intellectual freedom of the Indian universities, according to an official statement."In a period of rampant distrust of matters intellectual, there is an imperative need to defend the universities as free spaces, as independent, critical repositories of knowledge, and as sources of renewal of liberal values that provide avenues of social mobility and equality to people," the Vice President said while delivering the 66th Convocational Address at the Panjab University, Chandigarh."We need to remind ourselves of the democratic aspirations of pragmatic liberal education while recalling that 'our finest universities help fulfill the dreams of our best selves as a people'," he added.
Talking of the importance of academic freedom in the university system, Ansari said: "Academic freedom is the foundation of the university's mission to discover, improve, and disseminate knowledge.""The ideas, no matter how uncomfortable or disturbing to the accepted status quo, can and must be challenged, modified and even discarded - on their merit, but may never be muted or suppressed."Asking for openness to new ideas that may prove offensive and willingness to have one's assumptions questioned, he said: "This tolerance always has the potential to conflict with other virtues and causes, so it needs to be defended repeatedly and vigilantly."