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Rashtrapati Bhavan : 13.12.2015

The President of India, Shri Pranab Mukherjee today (December 13, 2015) delivered the Debranjan Mukherjee Memorial Lecture in Kolkata.

Speaking on the occasion, the President saidIndia cannot aspire to become one of the top nations in the world and sit at the high table of the international comity without having world class academic institutions. He said physical infrastructure for higher education has expanded fast in India in recent years. We have712 universities and over 36,000 colleges,but not a single Indian institution figured in the top 200 rankings till recently. There was a time when India played a dominant role in the higher education system and we had renowned seats of learning likeTakshashila, Nalanda, Vikramashila, Valabhi, Somapura and Odantapuri. India now has to work towards regaining that glory of the past.

The President said as Visitor to large number of institutions of higher learning, he has been regularly convening conferences and emphasizing on the need to improve international rankings. Thebasic problem is not lack of merit on the part of our higher learning institutions but technicalities and our not providing relevant information to the international rating agencies. The President said he was happyinstitutions are now taking the ranking process more seriously in a proactive and systematic manner. Thanks to the efforts of the institutions concerned and his constant prodding, twoIndian institutions have broken into the top 200 for the first time. He was confident many more would join these institutions soon.

The President said the Internet, mobile phones and TV have transformed the world. There are no longer any territorial limitations. Technology ande-classrooms can be used to access best of teachers anywhere. This will help address the problem of faculty shortages.

The President said there is need for cross fertilization of ideas. Faculty and student exchanges should be regularly organized.Novel ideas that can be transformed into marketable products should be supported and higher education institutions should in association with grassroots entrepreneurs create incubation centers.

The President saidIndia has been traditionally a fossil fuel driven energy economy. There is aneed to develop solar energy and other alternate energy to reduce dependence on hydro carbons.

The President fondly remembered Shri Debranjan Mukherji who taught him for four years in Suri Vidyasagar College. He recalled that the College has excellent teachers at that time.

The Memorial Lecture has been instituted in the memory of Late Debranjan Mukherji, an influential figure who taught Bengali language and literature. He served in Suri Vidyasagar College, Guskara Mahavidyalaya, Bidhanchandra College at Asansol and the University of Burdwan, where he later became the Head of the Department of Bengali.

The release issued 1330 hrs.