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Rashtrapati Bhavan : 10.08.2015

The President of India, Shri Pranab Mukherjee addressed the students and faculty of Institutes of Higher Learning from Rashtrapati Bhavan today (August 10, 2015) using the National Knowledge Network. The topic of the address was ‘Energizing the Higher Educational Institutes in India’.

Addressing students and faculty, the President said he was speaking to them in the shadow of an irreparable loss that we have suffered in the passing away of Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam. He stated that his two illustrious predecessors, Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan - a philosopher teacher and Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam - a scientist teacher have greatly influenced his thinking on the education sector.

The President said that to take our fascinating and vibrant democracy to greater heights, we need highly educated and skilled young men and women. That is the challenge before our higher education system. Converting information into knowledge and knowledge into wisdom, calls for exceptional skills which we must impart in our students. They should be prepared for lifelong learning which now is easier because of digital technology. An inquisitive mind and research oriented approach has to be built in our students.

The President said that students must learn how to manage knowledge collectively. It is essential for the younger generation to learn how to use the latest technologies for aiding their learning process. Universities must create an eco-system with adequate hardware and software where ‘inspired teachers’ can be effectively used to propagate knowledge. Entrepreneurship is another quality which must be cultivated in our students from an early age.

The President said that value oriented education with deep understanding of the democratic governance structures and systems is a must for building leadership skills. "Yes, We Can” spirit has to be inculcated in formative years of our gen-next. They must have the disposition "to do the right thing” as well as "to do things right”.

The President said that urgent measures to improve academic management in higher level institutions are necessary. In two reputed international rankings of universities, there is not a single entry from India against the top 200 places. The rankings process should be taken seriously. A high rank can boost the morale of the academic community and open greater avenues of growth and placement for students. As a result of concerted efforts, India today has nine institutions in top 50 in the BRICS region, with the Indian Institute of Science Bangalore at the 5th position. He expressed the hope that the success in the BRICS rating will extend to other international ratings.

The President said that our universities and engineering and research institutions must make India a hub for technology-based products. They must build a research culture and promote research activity at all levels. Our institutes of higher learning must leverage their linkages with key stakeholders. Academic institutes in India must develop partnerships with reputed international institutions.

The President stated that an institution can draw the expertise and experience of some of their illustrious alumni for academic management through governing bodies. A higher educational institution should interact with the society at large. Adoption of some neighbourhood villages to effect holistic change and transform them into model villages can be a very good beginning.

The President interacted with students who raised many questions. Later, in his concluding remarks, the President said that teachers, mould the destiny of students, in turn shaping the fate of nations much like the soft and skillful hands of a potter. In his view, an inspired teacher was a value-oriented, mission-driven, self-motivated and result-oriented individual. He works towards impacting the environment in a positive manner through his own actions as well as by imparting knowledge amongst students to help them achieve their potential. An inspired teacher links the individual goals of the students to the societal and national goals. He said that we must attract talent to the academic profession. Teaching as a profession must receive the respect and recognition that it deserves. We must have the environment that fosters creativity and recognize merit.

Addressing students and faculty of Institutes of Higher Learning twice a year through video conferencing is a practice which the President started in January 2014. Through this e-platform, which has now been upgraded to twice its capacity, it is possible for the President to connect with a much larger audience from Kashmir to Kanyakumari, West to East and North-East.

This release issued at 1500 hrs.