Indian youth are second to none in entrepreneurship and educational institutes must work towards creating an innovation and research network that will produce entrepreneurs and nurture innovations, President Pranab Mukherjee said in New Delhi. He said the country needs both reach and excellence, quality and affordability, and autonomy with accountability in education sector.
"Indian youth are second to none in entrepreneurship. India serves as the fastest growing start-up base worldwide and stands third with 4,200 start-ups, next only to US and UK. The government has initiated the 'Start-up India, Stand-up India' campaign to incentivise entrepreneurial ventures. Heads of institutes of higher learning must work towards creating an innovation and research network that will produce entrepreneurs and nurture innovations," Mukherjee said.
He said academic institutions are an important stakeholder for the socio-economic development of the nation. "I had earlier asked central universities and National Institutes of Technology (NITs) to adopt at least five villages and transform them into model villages. I now extend my call to all the 114 central institutions. After identifying problems in the adopted villages, they must pool all academic and technical resources at their disposal to provide solutions that will enhance the quality of life of our countrymen," he said addressing 'Visitors' Conference at Rashtrapati Bhavan'.
Mukherjee also launched 'IMPRINT India'- a joint initiative of Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) and Indian Institutes of Science (IISs) to develop a roadmap for research to solve major engineering and technology challenges relevant to the country. The link between progress and innovation is direct. History is witness to many nations low on natural resources emerging as advanced economies only on the strength of rapid technological development, the President said emphasising on the need for innovation and research attitude in students and educational institutes.
He said it is true that the past 10 years have seen a vast expansion of the higher education infrastructure. However, low Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) at 21 per cent in India as against the world average of 27 per cent remains a cause for concern, Mukherjee said. A new education policy is being formulated and it must alter the dynamics of the education sector and help us achieve the GER target of 30 per cent by 2020, a goal we cannot afford to miss, the President said.
"At the altar of expansion, quality should not be sacrificed. Greater number of institutions translates into greater number of seats, enhancing access and equity in higher education. However, it has generated a lively debate on reach versus excellence, quality versus affordability, and accountability versus autonomy. A calm assessment will make it clear to all stakeholders that we need both reach and excellence, quality and affordability, and autonomy with accountability. Increasing access in higher education through digital inclusion is a way forward," he said.
Earlier not a single Indian institution came within the top 200 institutions in international rankings. "It seems that my persistent exhortation has paid off. Many of you have responded to my call. I am grateful for that. Our institutions are now taking the ranking process more seriously, in a proactive and systematic manner," Mukherjee said. In the QS World University Rankings 2015-16, Indian institutions have broken into the top 200 for the first time.
If we provide enough funds to top 10-20 institutions for next 4-5 years, we will soon see them storm into the top 100, the President said. The event was attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Human Resource Development Minister Smriti Irani, Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, Vice Chancellors of central universities and heads of NITs and IISc.
Image Credit : Flickr
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