The President of India, Pranab Mukherjee received the first copy of a book titled “The Education President” Wednesday at a function held in Rashtrapati Bhavan. He received the book from Vice President, Mohammad Hamid Ansari who formally released it.
The book highlights President Mukherjee’s contribution to the field of higher education as Visitor to 116 institutions of higher learning in India.
Speaking on the occasion, the President said it was the contradiction between our aspirations to occupy a place at the high table of the comity of nations and the reality of higher education in the country that motivated him to draw attention to the need to improve quality of higher education in the country.
The President said India has a large higher education network comprising 757 universities and over 38,000 colleges. However, issues relating to quality and excellence are one of the biggest challenges, yet to be addressed comprehensively.
We must keep up with our own past. India could boast of having universities like Nalanda, Takshashila, Vikramashila, Valabhi, Somapura and Odantapuri, which were global leaders in various times between the sixth century BC and twelfth century AD. Students and teachers from around the world attended these institutions.
Today, in the absence of adequate number of good quality educational institutions, around 2 lakh students go overseas to study. Similarly, while our teachers and students are both very talented, no Indian since CV Raman in 1930 has won the Nobel Prize from an Indian university.
The President said India pays minimum attention to research. Only 0.6 per cent of our GDP is spent on research as compared to 2.8 per cent of China’s 10.38 trillion economy, 3 per cent in Japan and 5 per cent in USA. If we have to create a knowledge society, we must invest more in research and development.
The President said advanced societies recognize and honour scholars and teachers. There should be cross fertilization of ideas and academic freedom. It is with this purpose that he has taken with him delegations of Vice Chancellors and other heads of educations institutions on his State visits abroad.
Photo courtesy: Press Information Bureau