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Knowledge and Innovation are the Keystones of Progress, says President

A speech of the President of India, Shri Pranab Mukherjee on the occasion of the Second convocation of the Indian Institute of Technology, Mandi was read out in abstentia today (March 15, 2015) by Shri M. Natarajan, Chairman of the Board of Governors. The President was unable to reach Mandi from Chandigarh due to bad weather.

The President said in his speech that India’s technical institutions must usher in social consciousness amongst our budding engineers and scientists. Along with professional competence, these centres of scientific learning must inculcate a social orientation in students. Our higher educational institutions are an integral part of the local eco-system. They must assume greater responsibility for overall development. The Government has taken important initiatives, aimed at financial inclusion, creation of model villages, Clean India and building of digital infrastructure. Institutions of higher learning including IIT Mandi should adopt five villages each and convert them into model villages in line with the Sansad Adarsh Gram Yojana. He also asked them to play a key role in realizing the objectives of the ‘Digital India’ programme.

The President said the growing demand for engineering education has resulted in the establishment of a number of technical institutions. Yet in this proliferation drive, quality of instruction and physical infrastructure has taken a backseat. Rejuvenating our higher education sector calls for greater dynamism on the part of our institutions. They must identify one or two departments, in which they have core competence, and nurture them into centres of excellence. The quality of faculty must be of a high order to provide students world-class instruction. With fast occurring changes in various disciplines, the faculty must keep themselves abreast with the latest developments.

The President said to bring about qualitative changes in teaching, the newly-established IITs must leverage the expertise available in the older IITs. The National Knowledge Network offers a platform for academic institutions to collaborate through peer group learning in emerging areas. Additionally, this network can compensate for shortages in faculty, infrastructure and resources. Our educational institutions must also make an effort to develop linkages with international academic institutions.

The President said knowledge and innovation are the keystones of progress. Competitive advantage can be derived from an eco-system conducive to new learning, research and innovation. Inter-disciplinary approaches in course curricula and research, strengthening under-graduate research and making research integral to the teaching-learning process must gain focused attention. Strong linkages must be built with the Industry. The success of initiatives like the ‘Make in India’ programme depends on the manufacturing of quality industrial products. Good academia-industry interface can play a critical role in this regard.

The President said higher educational institutions, particularly engineering institutes, must promote a scientific temperament and spirit of inquiry in their students. They must encourage their students to follow their curiosity and explore their creativity. They must equip students to think beyond their textbooks and come up with ingenious ideas.

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