The purpose of education is not a good job or income but using the acquired knowledge in the service of the nation and humankind, he said.
Quoting Mahatma Gandhi, Mukherjee said, "The Father of our nation had said real education consists of drawing the best out of yourself. What better book can there be than the book of humanity?"
In his convocation address at the University of Mumbai, Mukherjee said in present times when the youth, caught between traditional values and western culture, face a moral dilemma, Mahatma Gandhi's exhortation can set many doubts at rest.
"Once we imbibe the book of humanity, many of the divisions and conflicts in the society will meet their end," he said.
Mukherjee also asked universities to reinvent themselves as enablers of society and not restrict themselves to being gatekeepers of higher education.
"The youth of our nation should be empowered to take our great nation forward in leaps and bounds. University of Mumbai has a glorious history and must rededicate itself to the building of India's future.
"With India's youth seeking education and productive roles in the society, it is even more critical that universities reinvent themselves to deliver relevant knowledge and actionable skills," he said.
According to the President, for India to sit at the high table of global powers, it has to prepare its youth for a shrinking world that shares resources as well as responsibilities through being knowledgeable, capable and sensitive to environmental and social issues.
Underlining the role played by technology, Mukherjee said, "Delivering lectures and presenting thoughts through written material is going to be ancillary to creating learning environments. In the near future, teachers will emerge as facilitators of thought through multiple technology platforms."
He observed that in the age of smartphones and tablet computers, ideas are spread instantaneously. It is important for us to remain up to date with what is happening in the world. He called upon the teaching fraternity to re-learn, re-engage and re-train themselves for the immediate future.
He also asked the city of Mumbai and the Maharashtra government to become proactive in finding ways and means to enable greater funding and partnerships with industry houses, other universities and central government bodies.
He complimented the University for establishing the centre for nano-technology and said more such initiatives are needed for creating space for new thinking.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan, in his speech, said the challenge of quantity has been adequately addressed and now it is time to focus on improving quality of education. "Challenge of quality is yet to be conquered," he said.
Chavan said technology has empowered the youth like no other generation before them. "Don't be satisfied with your degrees but create new knowledge, innovate and make this world a better place," he said.
On the occasion, gold medals were presented to 51 students from different departments for their various academic achievements.
Mumbai: President Pranab Mukherjee on Sunday asked the country's youth to follow the "book of humanity" rather than using education to secure a good job or income.
First Published: Sunday, December 30, 2012, 15:06