Universities should be hotbeds for innovation: Pranab

Kurukshetra (Haryana), April 9 (IANS) Pointing out that India’s balance sheet of innovations was not very encouraging, President Pranab Mukherjee Tuesday called upon universities and research and development centres to become hotbeds of innovations.

The president said that with depleting natural resources, future growth will have to be secured through innovation and constant technology upgradation.

“India’s innovation balance sheet is not at all very encouraging,” he said, while delivering the convocation address of the National Institute of Technology (NIT), Kurukshetra, during its golden jubilee year.

He said that in 2011, 42,000 patent applications were filed in India, compared to over 500,000 applications filed each in China and the US.

“As per a recent Forbes survey, only three Indian companies have been listed amongst the world’s most innovative companies. This number will increase if the process of innovation is made a permanent feature in our institutions of learning,” Mukherjee said.

“Our universities, engineering colleges and research and development centres should be hotbeds of innovations,” he added.

Mukherjee exhorted academic institutions to recognise their outstanding teachers who inspire young minds to gather knowledge beyond text books.

“Such ‘inspired teachers’ could be encouraged to mentor junior teachers and students,” he said.

He said that topics of national relevance such as water, environment, health, education and urbanisation required in-depth analysis and research.

“Our institutes of higher learning must provide an academic framework that will facilitate a better understanding of these issues by our policy makers,” he said.

Mukherjee said that institutes of higher learning in the country continue to be challenged by problems of quality.

“An independent survey indicated that there is not a single Indian university amongst the top 200 universities in the world. This is totally unacceptable. This calls for drastic action to reform the way education is imparted in our universities and academic institutes. A culture of excellence should be embedded in the thought process of our higher education providers,” he said.

However, he said that India was beginning to emerge as a knowledge economy. “Our pool of qualified manpower will be the backbone of this new age,” he pointed out.

Kurukshetra is about 110 km from Chandigarh.

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