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Vice President calls for improving quality of teaching and research in Indian universities

The Vice President, Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu awarding the degrees and medals to the students, at the convocation of Vikrama Simhapuri University, in Nellore, Andhra Pradesh on January 21, 2020. The Governor of Andhra Pradesh, Shri Biswabhusan Harichandan is also seen.

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The Vice President, Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu today stressed the need to reorient the education system and improve the quality of teaching and research in our institutions of Higher Education.

Addressing the convocation of Vikrama Simhapuri University, in Nellore, Andhra Pradesh today, the Vice President expressed concern over the fact that none of our universities has figured among the top 100 Universities of the world in Times Rankings.

Addressing the students, Shri Naidu said, “India was once known as Vishwaguru and knowledge-seekers from all over the world used to come and study at renowned learning centres like Nalanda and Takshashila. Our students must draw inspiration from our glorious past to create a magnificent future.”

Highlighting that India has the advantage of Demographic dividend, the Vice President said that the development of knowledge and skills of youth should be the key strategy for accelerating economic growth of the nation. This trained and educated human capital will play an important role in achieving the goal of 5 trillion dollar economy in the coming years.

In this regard, Shri Naidu emphasized the need to step up the investment in education from the current 4.6 percent of GDP to 6 percent of GDP, as recommended by the NITI Aayog.

Stressing the need for our universities to emerge as the hotspots of research, incubation and innovation, Vice President called for building a strong research ecosystem through collaborative, inter-disciplinary and multi-disciplinary research initiatives.

Expressing concerns that India’s expenditure on R & D has almost stagnated, he said one reason for this was low investment by private sector in research and development.

The Vice President urged the private sector to spend reasonable share on research and development and join hands with the Universities. He also asked the corporate sector to create a separate corpus to promote cutting edge research in higher education institutions and universities.

Maintaining that Universities too must maintain close interaction with the industry, the Vice President called for creating the right ecosystem for research to thrive. It should be remembered that ultimately every scientific outcome must benefit the society, he said.

Shri Naidu further said asked the private universities to consider the education as a mission and as an investment in the future of the country and not merely treat it as a business opportunity. “Private universities need to focus on ensuring inclusiveness and deploy more resources to educate children belonging to the under-privileged sections of the society”, he added.

Talking of the need to provide holistic education, the Vice President said it should turn students into the persons of sterling character, impeccable integrity and strong morals. They must be socially conscientious citizens with empathy and compassion for the less fortunate, he added.

Shri Naidu also said that the education policy must focus on teaching India’s culture, heritage and the rich history with life stories of the great men and women who shaped this great nation.

Maintaining that education is not just for employment rather it is for enlightenment and empowerment, the Vice President asked the students to be life-long learners. “The growth and development of this country depends upon how well-educated, hard working and enterprising the youth are. The strides of progress that you make in your individual careers will collectively determine the pace at which the nation progresses”, he told the students.

The Vice President also asked the students to spare their time for societal obligations also. He appreciated Vikrama Simhapuri University’s concept of ‘College to Village’ in this regard.

Expressing concerns over the global warming and climate change, Shri Naidu also called upon every university to involve students in campaigns for the protection of the environment.

The Governor of Andhra Pradesh, Shri Biswabhushan Harichandan and the Vice Chancellor of the University, Prof. R. Sudarsana Rao were among the dignitaries who graced the occasion.

Following is the full text of the speech –

“It is a privilege for me to be here today to deliver the 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th Convocations address.  I am always happy to come to my home town, Nellore and cherish the flood of memories that flit through my mind.

Vikrama Simhapuri University is the pride of Nellore District and a feather in the cap of Nellore City. The long cherished goal of the people of Nellore District was realized when the University was established in 2008, opening new vistas for higher education to the youth in this rural areas.

I am glad to note that the University has made excellent of progress and has earned a place of great repute for itself.

My dear graduating students,

Convocation is a crucial day in the life of every student.

 The degrees that you receive today are rewards for your hard work, dedication, commitment and above all, your talent. This day marks the culmination of your student life and the beginning of a new chapter in your life. A long and arduous journey lies ahead of you and I trust that you will choose to find your own, unique path to success.

But always bear in mind that the end of student-life does not mean the end of education. I urge you to be life-long learners, continuously polishing and perfecting your intellect and your talent so that they shine bright and bring light into the lives of countless number of people.

Today, you leave the portals of the University campus and enter into a world full of opportunities and challenges. You have to face those challenges with equanimity, determination and grit and strive to turn every single opportunity that lies ahead of you into a success story.

The growth and development of this country depends upon how well-educated, hard working and enterprising the youth are. The strides of progress that you make in your individual careers will collectively determine the pace at which the nation progresses.

Though having a rewarding and successful career is important, I fervently believe that education is not just for employment. It is for enlightenment, enhancement of knowledge and empowerment. Education is the means to bring out the best in man.

The renowned poet Sri Bhartruhari rightly stated that education leads to prosperity, progress, well-being, social reputation and government patronage.

విద్యనిగూఢగుప్తమగువిత్తమురూపముపూరుషాళికిన్
విద్యయశస్సుభోగకరివిద్యగురుండువిదేశబంధుడున్
విద్యవిశిష్టదైవతమువిద్యకుసాటిధనంబులేదిలన్
విద్యనృపాలపూజితమువిద్యనేరుంగనివాడుమర్త్యుడే.

My dear sisters and brothers,

In the last few decades, India witnessed a significant expansion of higher education especially after 1990s.

The number of Universities and deemed to be Universities increased just from 30 to nearly 800, of which almost one third are privately managed. The most important fact to reckon with is that in higher education, private management institutions account for more than 60 percent of the total institutions and of total enrolment.

This kind of situation has its own bearing on opportunities to different social groups and the quality of education.

The private universities of our country must consider education as a mission and as an investment in the future of the country without treating it as a mere business opportunity. Private universities need to focus on ensuring inclusiveness and deploy more resources to educate children belonging to the under-privileged sections of the society.

It is also pertinent to note that the quality of teaching and research at present in many of the Universities in the country is lagging behind compared to the developed countries. 

This is evident from the rankings of Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2018. None of our universities has figured among the top 100 Universities, while at least two from China are among top 25 Universities. This underscores the imperative need to reorient the education system and improve the standards of teaching in our institutions of Higher Education.

The education system should not only focus on academic excellence but develop the students into holistic individuals. The students coming out of the portals of higher education institutions should be persons of sterling character, impeccable integrity and strong morals. They must be socially conscientious citizens with empathy and compassion for the less fortunate.

The education policy must also focus on teaching India’s culture, heritage and the rich history with life stories of the great men and women who shaped this great nation.

Please remember that India was once known as Vishwaguru and knowledge-seekers from all over the world used to come and study at renowned learning centres like Nalanda and Takshashila. Our students must draw inspiration from our glorious past to create a magnificent future.

It is true that the Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) has recorded significant increase from 19 per cent in 2010-11 to 25.8 per cent by 2017-18.  The targeted GER is to achieve 30 per cent by 2020.

But mere increase in GER is not just enough as quality of education is more important than the increase in numbers. 

There is also a need to step up our investment in education from the current 4.6 percent of GDP to 6 percent of GDP, as recommended by the NITI Aayog.

In fact, education as human capital needs more emphasis at present than ever before as Government of India has set a cherished goal of achieving US $5 trillion economy in the coming years.

This lofty goal can be realized only when governments at different levels invest adequately on quality education and research. It may be noted that the economic growth and development of a country depends on the quality of manpower in terms of knowledge, skills and competencies. Development of knowledge and skills of manpower in general and the educated youth in particular should be the key strategy for accelerating economic growth of a nation.

It is widely acknowledged that India has the advantage of Demographic dividend. Demographic dividend is the economic growth potential that can result from shifts in a population’s age structure, mainly when the share of the working age population is larger than the non-working age share of the population.

Since 2018, India’s working age population (People between 15 and 64 years of age) has grown larger than the dependant population. This kind of bulge in the working population is going to last till 2055, it is estimated. 

This large work force not only does increase the pace of economic growth in India but also would be available to other countries in the world.  But this will be facilitated only when young and inquisitive people like you are equipped with necessary skills and knowledge.

Our students who are well equipped with computer, communication and quantitative skills are very much in demand in many parts of the world. Mere degrees and diplomas will not make a person employable. Skilling is as important as giving information and knowledge.

 Studies conducted by MHRD, Government of India revealed recently that our graduates are lagging behind in this respect.  Therefore, your degree and diploma need to be supplemented by appropriate skills to take full advantage of the innumerable opportunities in the globalised and liberalized economic environment.

Universities should not only be the knowledge hubs but also need to emerge as the hotspots of research, incubation and innovation.  There is a great need to build a strong research ecosystem by collaborative, inter-disciplinary and multi-disciplinary research initiatives.

Expenditure on Research and Development is a key indicator of private and public sectors effort to foster competitive advantage in Science and Technology. But in India, public expenditure on Research and Development is very low. 

The percentage of public expenditure in GDP hovers around 0.8 per cent. It is well below the developed countries like USA, Israel, Japan and Korea and also a developing country like China.

Even though the East Asian countries have increased their spending as they have become richer, India’s expenditure on R & D has almost stagnated. One important reason for this is the negligible share of the private sector in the investment on research and development.

I appeal to the private sector to spend reasonable share on research and development and join hands with the Universities. In fact, I have been advocating the corporate sector to create a separate corpus to promote cutting edge research in higher education institutions and universities.

The Universities too must maintain close interaction with the industry and create the right ecosystem for research to thrive. It should be remembered that ultimately every scientific outcome must benefit the society.

I am happy to know that Vikrama Simhapuri University has decided to organize University – Industry Interaction Workshop every year on 14th February.

My dear graduating students,

Besides your academic and career obligations, you have to spare your time for societal obligations also.

I am happy to note that the University has established a centre for extension to undertake extension and outreach programs to motivate faculty and students to take-up initiatives of social responsibility. 

The concept followed by the University, ‘College to Village’ is also appreciable.

Every university must involve students in campaigns for the protection of the environment. Global warming and climate change are real and the world is witnessing many adverse events like increasing heat waves, droughts and hurricanes. Many people were killed and tens of thousands of animals perished in the devastating bush fires that swept through Australia recently.

I have always been advocating the importance of preserving culture and protecting nature for a better future. I appreciate that University has undertaken 64,800 plantations of 12 varieties of saplings on the Campus and has started the innovative initiative of Students Green Club.

My dear young friends,

On this momentous occasion, as you leave the portals of this institution, I wish each one of you a bright and fulfilling future, good health and happiness. I hope that you will strive to excel in your chosen profession and will bring great pride to your parents, to this university and this nation.

I wish this University with tremendous potential for excellence in academics and research all the very best. I once again congratulate all the Graduates, Post-Graduates, Gold Medalists and others and wish them a very bright future.

Thank You!

Jai Hind!”

Jan 21, 2020

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