Puducherry: President Pranab Mukherjee on Wednesday said steps should be taken to make the country the seat of world class learning by establishing quality academic institutions.
Recalling the pride of place the country had carved out for itself about 1,800 years ago beginning from 6th century BC during which ancient Indian universities like Nalanda, Takshashila, Vikramshila and Valabhi, Somapura and Odantapuri were the "seats of world class universities", he said there is a dearth of quality academic institutions now.
"There is a dearth of quality academic institutions to prepare our next generation. Indian universities are not counted amongst the top-ranked universities in the world," he said at the 23rd Convocation of the Pondicherry University here.
"The central importance of higher education in a country`s development is well recognised. If we are to grow as a nation, the education system has to figure prominently in the template of progress," he said.
Recalling his experience as a teacher before joining public life, Mukherjee said the faculty is the "life blood" of a university and they must continuously renew their understanding of the subject.
Noting that Right to Education was a reality in the country, the President said, "We have to now stress on Right Education."
A university has to be a temple of learning, of humanism, tolerance and balanced reasoning, he said and added, "Let us together bring the changes required to make our present higher education system shine brightly once again."
Teaching and research were the two eyes of a university, he said, adding while high standards in teaching have to be achieved, high quality research that will push knowledge frontiers and evolve technologies for development had to be promoted.
Innovations should create livelihood and improve the quality of life in rural areas, he said and advocated that local technological needs have to be addressed by universities by creating research and development centres for such technologies in their campuses.
Research campuses also have to be set up in rural areas to act as fountain heads for innovation and technology-led growth in these regions, he said.
Lt Governor of Puducherry and Chief Rector of the University Virendra Kataria, Chief Minister N Rangasamy and Minister of State in PMO V Narayansamy also attended the convocation function.