In his excitement to welcome postgraduate students, the University of Pune (UoP) vice chancellor Vasudeo Gade failed to notice that several of the 600-odd students in the crowd were either foreign students or belonged to other states and hence couldn’t follow a word of the address that was delivered in Marathi.
The faux pas took place on Monday when Gade was addressing first year students who have enrolled for the various courses of UoP for the academic year 2013-14. They were invited for the welcome speech by the vice chancellor at Namdeo Hall on the varsity campus on Friday afternoon. However, students from outside the state or other countries, could not understand most of the speech that was delivered in Marathi.
The University of Pune has been acclaimed as a five-star university and this tag attracts students from other states as well as other countries. The aim of the welcome speech is to introduce the freshers to the university, its departments and the esteemed tradition of giving scholars to the world. All this is addressed by the V-C.
A foreign national student, who does not want to be named, said, “I and my classmates were told by our department that there is a welcome speech by the V-C at Namdeo Hall on the campus, so we went there. We thought the programme would be in English. However, the two anchors of the programme started the in local that is Marathi language. We thought that at least the V-C will address the speech in English but we were dumbfounded when he started speaking in the local language. We were forced to play games on our phones as we understood zilch.”
This reporter observed that after the V-C got up from the chair to deliver his welcome speech, he first asked the students whether they are comfortable in Marathi or English. There was an uproar in the hall and as the majority of the students were from Maharashtra, they demanded that the V-C speak in Marathi.
Gade decided to go with the majority and asked how many students wanted him to speak in Marathi. Obviously, as the local students’ were more in number, more hands were raised. The V-C then asked them how many of them wanted him to speak in Hindi or English. Some 150 to 200 students requested that he speak in English or Hindi. However going by the majority, the V-C began his speech in Marathi, promising he would try and speak in English too.
“As he was continuously speaking in Marathi, taking small turns for English, I and my friends could not connect the speech and were confused to a large extent,” another student from Delhi told dna. He said that during the speech, the V-C mentioned that there more than 40 % of total foreign students in the country study at this varsity.
Meanwhile, some foreign students complained that teachers use local language in the classroom, which makes it difficult for them to understand the topic at hand.
No tradition of speaking in English: V-C
When contacted, University of Pune vice chancellor Vasudeo Gade said there is no tradition of speaking in English while delivering the welcome address and that he did speak in English while delivering the speech in Marathi.