Published On: Thu, May 2nd, 2013

Indian universities should catch up with counterparts in quality: President

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“We have to equip our universities with the necessary facilities without any further delay. Shortage of faculty should be seen as a core concern. In central universities close to 51 per cent of posts of professors are lying vacant,” said President of India, Pranab Mukherjee on the occasion of the convocation Sido Kanhu Murmu University.

“In state universities the conditions are far worse. Higher educational institutions also suffer from large quality variation. A recent NASSCOM – McKinsey Report has said that not more than 15 per cent of graduates of general education and 25 per cent of technical education are fit for employment,” Mukherjee said.

The president said that we all recognize the critical role that education plays in the development of a nation. He said, “It is the prime mover of the progress of a country.”

The President said that to make the most of this opportunity we must invest in education. It will be a race against time, given present state of our education sector, especially higher education.

“In the world of globalization, universities are regarded as crucial national assets. Governments around the world have invested heavily in universities. They are seen as vital sources of new knowledge and innovative thinking, and as providers of skilled personnel with credible credentials. Besides, they are also acting as magnets of international talent and business investment into a region, as agents of social justice and mobility, and as resources of cultural and social vitality,” he said.

Talking about the demographic dividend India has, he said, “I believe that we can turn this challenge into opportunity. The present demographic profile of India lends strong credence to this belief.”

“According to an estimate, by the year 2020 the average age of India will be 29 years. If we are able to harness this potential and channelize the productive energy of youth, we can transform the economic fortunes of our country,” he said.

He warned, but if we fail to do so, the historical opportunity offered by this demographic dividend – an opportunity that comes only rarely in the life of a nation – will be lost with terrible consequences.

Questioning the present status of universities in India, he said, “The question to ask ourselves is, are our universities up to the job? There is need for Indian universities to catch up with counterparts in the quality of teaching and research. Research and innovation must be given new impetus. Out of 260 lakh students who were enrolled at the undergraduate level and above in 2011-12, only one lakh or 0.4 per cent had registered for PhD.”

“The total number of patent applications filed by Indians in 2010, was close to only six thousand, while 3 lakh applications were filed by Chinese, around 1.7 lakh filed by Germans, 4.5 lakh by Japanese, and 4.2 lakh by Americans. The number of patent applications by Indians comprised only 0.3 per cent of the total applications filed in the world, a disappointing figure for a country with a share of 17 per cent in world population. These figures indicate the challenges to India’s global aspirations,” he added.