President Ram Nath Kovind said on Tuesday that higher education institutions have a great responsibility to transform impressionable youth. “For this, we must respond to their aspirations as they are future leaders in different spheres of life,” he said, opening the two-day conference of Vice Chancellors of Central Universities and Directors of Institutions of National Importance in Rashtrapati Bhavan here.
Kovind said digital technologies are pushing the boundaries of education and that the key to achieving excellence is to harness the transformational benefits of digital technologies to enrich the teaching and learning experience. When the pandemic threatened to derail education and learning, technology provided continuity. There were undoubtedly difficulties, but it is good to see that all of you have been teaching continuously, conducting assessments, evaluations and research. We can now build on that experience and make classroom sessions more interactive, giving students a deep understanding of the subject, he said. Kovind said that in order to improve the quality of education, we also need to think about advanced and innovative approaches to learning.
The president said he was pleased to see Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav’ in the opening session to commemorate the glorious history of the Indian freedom movement. He said the country’s higher education institutions are central to this, as our young citizens are not only the heirs of the past, but also the ones who will lead India into its next golden age. Higher education institutions have a great responsibility to transform impressionable youth. To do this, we must respond to their ambitions, as they are future leaders in different spheres of life. I can say with confidence that each of you will help achieve this goal. India’s extraordinary growth in recent times would not have been possible otherwise. I’m sure you’ll keep up the good work, Kovind said.
The chairman is the Visitor of 161 central higher education institutions. Of the 161 institutes, 53 are physically attending the conference, while others are virtually connected, a statement from the Rashtrapati Bhavan said. Kovind said that to achieve our greater goals, improving the quality of higher education institutions is vital. We should set benchmarks for the best in the world, he added. The president said that while the importance of pure sciences cannot be denied, for a country like India the importance of using research for socially and economically relevant results cannot be ignored.
Therefore, the agenda item on collaboration between academia, industry and policymakers is highly relevant, he said. There are a number of such initiatives in India that work both ways: bringing the benefits of research to the market and also bringing the expertise of the market to academia, Kovind said. The president said questioning accepted beliefs and going against the grain is often the foundation of human progress. However, in an era of unprecedented technological progress, it is not just individual genius, but also the support systems that make such progress possible. It’s a pooling of human intelligence that led to this fluid environment, Kovind said. He said discussions on the topic of “Education and research in emerging and disruptive technologies” would enhance our understanding of this highly relevant aspect of higher education.
The president noted that to fuel an ecosystem of start-ups and innovation, nearly 2,775 Institutional Innovation Councils have been established in higher education institutions in 28 states and six UTs. He expressed his confidence that this would greatly contribute to furthering the objectives of a socially relevant partnership between higher education institutions and business. Kovind also noted that India’s position in the Global Innovation Index has improved significantly from 76 in 2014 to 46 in 2021.
However, he said that to improve the culture of innovation and entrepreneurship in India, we need to encourage patent applications and streamline the process. Speaking on the agenda item integrating education and higher and vocational education,” the president said the system should provide education in a way that not only enhances knowledge, but also provides the ability to live fulfilling and useful lives. The school lays the groundwork, but this should lead a student to a higher or vocational education that satisfies both aptitude and aspirations, he said.
During the opening session of the conference, the President also presented the Visitor’s Award 2020 for Research (Biological Sciences) to Prof. Mohammad Zahid Ashraf, Department of Biotechnology, Jamia Millia Islamia, for his research on hypoxia-induced thrombosis; and Visitor’s Award 2020 for Technology Development’ to Prof Pritam Deb, Department of Physics, Tezpur University, for his work on the development of biodegradable polymer film reinforced with a two-dimensional heterostructure for food packaging. The third Visitor’s Award 2020 for Research (Physical Sciences)’ will later be awarded to Prof. Anunay Samanta, School of Chemistry, University of Hyderabad for his contribution to the spectroscopy and dynamics of short-lived chemical species formed by photoexcitation of molecular systems and materials.
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