Chief Justice of India SA Bobde on Saturday said that universities in the country were not supposed to operate like an assembly line in a production facility, ANI reported. He said that certain institutes had become excessively “commercially-minded” and that they should not be about “brick and mortar only”.

“The most important question we should address is what is the purpose of university education,” he said while addressing the 107th convocation of the Rashtrasant Tukadoji Maharaj Nagpur University in Maharashtra’s Nagpur city, reported PTI. “It is also very important to emphasise that university degrees are not the end in themselves, but are means to an end.”

Bobde said that the idea of universities reflects what we want to achieve as a society, and that such institutes should re-orient themselves and make sure they stay “true to the compass” and achieve the basic goal of the society, which is likely to change at different times.

Research and thinking are crucial and must be undertaken in the ultimate analysis, Bobde said. It is also important for the graduating students to understand what society expects from them, he added.

The chief justice told the audience that they all had a responsibility to be an “active citizen” and that citizenship was not only about rights but equally about an individual’s duty towards the society. Bobde called the university his alma mater and said that the institute “nourishes its children with knowledge, skills and protects them throughout their lives”.

The chief justice’s comments came after nationwide student-led protests were seen last month against the Citizenship Amendment Act. Violence broke out after a protest march by students of Jamia Millia Islamia ended in a pitched battle with the Delhi Police. Buses were set on fire, and several students and police officers were injured. The police were accused of using excessive force and even assaulting students.

Police also entered the Aligarh Muslim University campus the same evening after a clash broke out between them and students. They baton-charged students and used tear gas shells on them. Following this, protests against the amendments to the Citizenship Act and the alleged police brutality against the students swept campuses across India.