President Pranab Mukherjee with chief minister Nitish Kumar at the convocation of IIT-Patna. Nitish asked Mukherjee to do away with the tradition of wearing ceremonial robes at such events. ( ) Picture by Deepak Kumar
Patna, Oct. 26: President Pranab Mukherjee today lamented the state of higher education in the country and voiced concern that no university in India figured in the list of the top 200 varsities in the world.
“There is no Indian university among the top 200 universities in the world. The situation must be improved, and for this stress should be laid on more research, innovation and an urge to look to our alma mater,” Mukherjee said while delivering the convocation speech of Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Patna, at Rabindra Bhavan.
“Nalanda and Vikramshila universities, all located in Bihar, were the cradle of learning in the world in ancient times... Why cannot we regain that glory?” he said.
Mukherjee stressed on greater investment in research while pointing out that no scholar from any of the country’s institutions had won the Nobel Prize since C.V. Raman in 1930.
“Though we feel the glory of Indian-born literati like Har Gobind Khorana, Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar and Amartya Sen who won the Nobel Prize in different disciplines, they were not attached to native institutions,” Mukherjee said.
This was the second convocation of a varsity in Bihar that Mukherjee has presided over as President. In October last year, he attended the convocation of the Lalit Narayan Mithila University, Darbhanga.
At today’s convocation, 89 graduates received their degrees. Abhinav, a computer science graduate, received the President of India Gold Medal while Kshitij, from the department of electrical engineering, received the Director’s Gold Medal.
The President also had some word of caution for those graduating. Mukherjee said: “It is great moment for graduating techies to be called IITians. Engineering plays a crucial role in the growth of a country but those passing out should not be job-seekers but job-providers.” He was pleased to know that IIT Patna had launched an entrepreneurship club, but pointed out that the private sector should come forward to help in research and innovations.
“Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Harvard University are big as in their growth their alumni have contributed a lot,” he said, and talked about visiting his village school in Bengal regularly whenever he gets a chance.
Governor D.Y. Patil echoed Mukherjee and added that along with imparting the necessary skills, institutes also need to teach moral values to make the youths aware of their roots.
Chief minister Nitish Kumar said it was a proud moment for Bihar to have an IIT as the government had to perform a Herculean task in providing 500 acres of land in Bihta for setting up the institute.
“As land has been provided, the IIT Patna administration should work on a war-footing so that the institute can shift to its permanent location in Bihta,” he said.
IIT-P director A.K. Bhowmick said the institute plans to move to its new campus by mid-2014.