New Delhi: President Pranab Mukherjee on Friday described IITs as "knowledge leaders" of the nation and asked them to explore how quality of education can be improved and good governance brought in to help the institutes of higher learning compete with the best in the world.
Inaugurating a day-long conference of Chairmen, Board of Governors and Directors of Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) at Rashtrapati Bhavan, he called upon the Council of IIT`s to draw up a roadmap for governance in line with the best global practices and implement it without any delay.
"...There is need for soul searching on what is holding back good governance in institutes of higher learning. If our institutes of higher learning are to compete with the best in the world, governance of these institutes must be comparable to the best in the world," he said.
The President also shared the concerns of the Prime Minister over the country`s dependence on other countries for import of technology from security features and papers for Indian currency to defence equipment despite having technical capabilities to put satellites of other countries into space.
"We need to see how the technologies developed by IIT`s and future research in IIT`s can be used to meet the technology requirements of the nation.
"The Council of IIT`s should focus on how IIT`s can become a source for meeting technology needs of government and become a harbinger of the vision `Make in India and Made in India`," Mukherjee said.
The President said while attention till now has been given to industry-academia inter-linkages, the focus should now be on government-academia inter-linkages. Prime Minister Narendra Modi also spoke at the conference.
With the premier engineering institutes facing shortage of faculty, the President stressed that issue should be addressed "urgently". The vacancy position in IIT`s varies from 10 per cent to 52 per cent, the overall vacancy in 16 IIT`s is over 37 per cent.
Mukherjee said there was need to attach importance to the ranking process as it provides a "reality check" and an opportunity to introspect and position the institute on a global map.
Noting that the IIT-alumni should be engaged in the governance structure to tap their skills, global reach and mobility, he called upon the IIT Council to create an enabling framework for participation of the alumni in the governance of these institutions.
He exhorted on developing a strong linkages between innovation clubs of Central Universities, NITs and IIT`s to promote innovation and development and asked the IIT`s to work towards making the Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) policy a success.
With the country targeting to provide skill development training to 500 million people by 2022, converging all skill related initiatives into the Ministry of Skill Development is a welcome step and should help India focus on creating a "Skilled India".
He also said that ICT programmes functioning in silos should be converged to build a Digital India. "This `Network Grid` should link up with the `Skill Grid` being created by the Ministry of Skill Development," he said.