Tezpur: Calling for greater engagement between academia and industries, President Pranab Mukherjee on Thursday asked universities to become breeding ground for technological advancements and said success of initiatives like 'Make in India' hinges on manufacturing quality products.
In his address at the 12th Convocation of Tezpur University in this picturesque town, he said it was incumbent on the universities to align their research priorities to help the country deal with challenges of urbanisation, climate change and ensuring energy security.
He also referred to a decision taken at the Conference of VCs of central universities in Delhi earlier this year to set up Industry Interface Cell comprising representatives of the industry, alumni and faculty in each central varsity to initiate collaborative activities like joint research, faculty exchange, and sponsoring of chairs and endowments.
"Success of 'Make in India' hinges on manufacturing quality industrial products where academia-industry interface would play a critical role," he said at the convocation attended by Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi, Governor J B Patnaik and Union Minister for Sports and Youth Welfare Sarbananda Sonowal among others.
Asking leading educational institutions to encourage innovation, Mukherjee said he had last month told the National Institute of Technologies to start working with at least five villages each to transform them into model villages.
In this context he mentioned about the Saansad Adarsh Gram Yojana launched by the NDA government?with the "objective to develop model villages with improved basic amenities, enhanced human development, access to rights and entitlements and wider social mobilisation".
"Financial inclusion, creation of digital infrastructure and the Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan have been dovetailed into this scheme," he said.
Stressing on the need for universities to expand their research activities, the President said they have to support an eco-system where innovative ideas born out of novelty of the common man are mentored.
"To spur an innovation culture and to translate the slogan of 'inclusion in innovation' into a workable framework, I had called upon the central institutions to open innovation clubs. I am happy that such a platform has been created in several institutions.
"Our universities have to now make an effort to link these clubs to innovation incubators in technical and research institutions to transform ideas into useful products," Mukherjee said.
According to the President, central universities have a pioneering role to play in setting standards for higher education across the country and they have to be catalyst for rejuvenating other institutions of higher learning in their region thereby reducing regional academic imbalance.
He talked about globally famed seats of learning like Nalanda and Takshashila and said these institutions were a melting pot for scholastic pursuits.
"The scenario today is starkly different. Our institutions lag in international rankings brought out by reputed agencies. Few of our leading institutions deserve a better position though. They need to adopt an effective strategy to project their achievements," he said, adding problems being faced by educational institutions like faculty shortage must be addressed.
In his speech, Sonowal, who hails from Assam, said the northeast is a priority area for the Narendra Modi government and called for making sports an integral part of the academic curricular.
He also touched upon the perennial problem of floods in Assam and said the NDA government was determined to find a solution to it.
Gogoi said the region has several problems despite having huge natural resources and underlined the need for greater investment by the private sector.