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Country urgently needs quality research in S&T: PM

Pitching for greater collaboration between institutions like IITs and the corporate sector, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Saturday said the country urgently needs to increase quality research in science and technology.



Kanpur: Pitching for greater collaboration
between institutions like IITs and the corporate sector, Prime
Minister Manmohan Singh on Saturday said the country urgently needs
to increase quality research in science and technology
especially to meet newer challenges like climate change.

Addressing the convocation of IIT-Kanpur here, he also
said that the government has set in motion an ambitious
programme to completely restructure the legal and regulatory
environment of higher education.
Observing that science and technology played a dominant
role in determining the power and progress of a nation, Singh
said, "This role has become even more critical in the wake of
newer challenges like climate change."

He said the country needed more innovation in areas
like sustainable agriculture, affordable health care and
energy security.

"India`s strength in frugal engineering and extremely
affordable innovations is becoming known internationally.
Indian scientists and engineers should leverage this strength
to play a more prominent role in addressing problems that
affect all countries of the world," he said.

Advocating greater collaboration between institutions
like IITs and the corporate sector, he said, "This would be of
mutual benefit to both- to the corporate sector it would mean
cost effective solutions and newer technology while for the
IITs it would bring much needed funds and enhance their
research capabilities."
While noting that efforts have been made to expand
higher education facilities on an unprecedented scale in the
last five years, he said, "The issue of quality remains".

A major constraint was the availability of good
faculty, he said, adding that a large number of bright
students should be encouraged to join academics and IIT
community must come together to evolve other innovative ways
to address these issues.

The government would ensure that the IITs function
with the required degree of autonomy and flexibility and that
the genuine needs of the IIT faculty were met, he said.

The Prime Minister was also conferred degree of Doctor
of Science, Honoris Causa. Former president APJ Abdul Kalam
and former prime minister Morarji Desai were among eminent
personalities who received the honorary degree earlier.

The Prime Minister said the IITs should strive to be
among the very best in science and technology institutes of
the world.

"An obvious area of improvement is the quality of post
graduate programmes. We need to strengthen the master and
doctoral programmes in the IITs," he said.

He said bright students should be encouraged to opt
for research and acquire PhD degrees.
A number of new IITs, IIMs, and IISERs have been
started and more than 300 degree colleges have been opened in
selected districts, he said adding government spending on
higher education has been enhanced manifold.

Noting that the government has set in motion an
ambitious programme to completely restructure the legal and
regulatory environment of higher education, Singh said
intensive consultations were on to set up the National Council
for Higher Education and Research (NCHER).

"Several important bills have been introduced in the
Parliament. These relate to accreditation, foreign
universities, educational tribunals and unfair practices", the
Prime Minister said.

A task force constituted by the HRD Ministry had
earlier formulated a draft legislation for the establishment
of the NCHER to promote the autonomy of higher educational
institutions for free pursuit of knowledge and innovation and
provide for comprehensive and holistic growth of higher
education and research in a competitive global environment.
The Prime Minister said that the government has tried
to ensure that science and technology formed strong pillars of
its strategic alliances with other countries and establishment
of IIT, Kanpur marked the beginning of cooperation between
India and the United States in science and technology.

In the recently held meeting of Indo-US Science and
Technology Joint Commission, several important decisions have
been taken to take this cooperation rapidly forward, he said.

The government has also launched a joint initiative of
seven IITs for the development of a management plan for the
National Ganga River Basin, he said.

Crediting the IIT alumni with transforming the
country`s image, the Prime Minister said, "The alumni of the
IIT system have done our country proud. The peaking of the
careers of the early batches of the IITs has broadly coincided
with the new recognition and respect with which the world
views India today."

Singh also referred to association of IIT Kanpur with
a diverse range of projects in railways, water resources,
energy and environment and said these would greatly benefit
the country.

He said the government has launched a new initiative
in solar energy to be executed jointly by three Central
Ministries and IIT Kanpur which would explore new ways
of storage of solar energy and its conversion into
electricity.

Referring to the IIT-Kanpur`s involvement in a project
with the Railways, Singh said the development of zero
discharge toilet technology was a wonder contribution not
only to the railways but also to the shikaras of the Dal Lake
in Srinagar.

"Similarly, the train tracking system that IIT Kanpur
has developed should improve the efficiency and safety of our
railways", the Prime Minister added.

The Prime Minister also presented medals to five
meritorious students of the institute.

He said the students should always bear in mind that
the people of our country, which is still burdened with
persistent poverty, hunger and disease, have party paid for
their education and they should in some manner, however small
it may be, give back to the society and the people who have
nutured them.

PTI

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