National leaders needed from science, engineering fields: PM

Last Updated: Sun, Aug 19, 2012 20:13 hrs

India on Sunday needs “national leaders” from the fields of science and engineering, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said in Mumbai on Saturday.

Singh delivered the ‘Golden Jubilee Convocation’ address at Indian Institute of Technology-Bombay. “on Sunday India needs national leaders from the fields of engineering and science. Not just politics, sports and cinema,” the Prime Minister said.

India still lags behind many other countries in terms of research and development, and there is also dearth of quality institutes of higher education, he said.

“This is precisely why our government has taken initiative to expand the opportunities for higher and technical education in India.”

He also stressed that the investments made in higher education must contribute directly to nation building. IITs face an immediate challenge of making their curriculum more relevant to the country’s needs, he added.

Speaking on the occasion, Union Minister for HRD Kapil Sibal said IITs have been centres of excellence, and India is proud of their contribution. However, he said, the IITs are facing a critical shortage of quality faculty, and most of the current faculty is ageing and nearing superannuation, which is affecting academic productivity.

The brand equity of IITs is due to the excellence of their undergraduate students, Sibal said.

On the occasion of the Golden Jubilee Convocation, degree of ‘Doctor of Science — Honoris Causa’ was conferred upon industrialist Azim Premji, chairman, Wipro Ltd. A total of 2006 degrees, including 175 PhDs, were awarded.

In his acceptance speech, Premji advised students not to be afraid of making mistakes.

“Never stop learning. Have confidence in yourself. Excellence is not an art but a habit. Never compromise on values,” Premji said.

Maharashtra Governor K Sankaranarayanan, Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan, chairman of the board of governors of IIT-Bombay Anil Kakodkar and Institute director Devang Mehta were also present.

‘I studied in the light of kerosene lamp’

Addressing the students of IIT-Bombay here, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Sunday recalled his humble beginnings and the struggles.

“When I look back at my own life, I feel humbled, looking at the distance my own generation has travelled,” he said.

“I studied in the light of a kerosene lamp, in a dusty village that had no power, no doctor, no school or college. I used to walk miles to go to school,” Singh said, delivering the ‘Golden Jubilee Convocation’ address at IIT.

In all these matters, there has been an enormous improvement in the 65 years since independence, he said.

“The progress that has been registered has often fallen short of the expectations of our people, particularly the young people,” the Prime Minister conceded.

More from Sify: