Bhubaneswar(PTI): India must put thrust on basic research to emerge as a major knowledge power and its universities should ignite the imagination of students to take them beyond books, former president Pranab Mukherjee said here today.
Students passing out from IITs are being recruited as managers, engineers and technicians across the world and the question whether these premier institutions engaged in basic research did not evoke a very encouraging response, he said delivering the fifth convocation address of Siksha ‘O’ Anusandhan (Deemed to be University).
“Because of our lack of emphasis on basic research, institutions of higher education have lagged behind others in the world. Without such focus, it will not be possible to have our coveted place in the comity of nations,” Mukherjee said.
Research was the cornerstone of academic endeavour, he said adding its quality determined the academic caliber of an educational institution.
“Without strong research programs, no institution of higher education can truly accomplish its central mandate of promoting learning and knowledge,” Mukherjee said.
Lack of research was the reason why none of the Indian universities figure in the list of top 200 in the world, he said and expressed regret that no other scientist working in India had received Nobel Prize after C V Raman.
Students in the country are not less intelligent nor is there any dearth of talented teachers, he said adding scholars like Hargobind Khorana, Subramanyan Chandrasekhar and Amartya Sen became Nobel laureates while working in foreign universities.
The institutions of higher learning must realise that a scientific temper, which takes one’s imagination beyond the realm of grades and class rooms, is essential in students, the former President said.
“Our universities must fire the power of imagination of their students and the teachers make them think beyond the books so that they are trained to accept a proposition only after investigation,” Mukherjee said.
The quality of research is the cornerstone of academic endeavor and determined the academic caliber of an educational institution, he said adding technological institutions and universities should also function in coordination with industries.
Mukherjee congratulated SOA for putting sustained thrust on inter-disciplinary research by establishing the Centre of Excellence for Theoretical and Mathematical Sciences and conducting research on nano particles, multi-functional materials and thin film-based censors at the Centre for Nano Science and Nano Technology.
A Technology Business Incubation Lab has also been set up by the university which indicates that it is progressing in the right path, he said.
Former chief justice of India Justice K G Balakrishnan, former union minister M Veerappa Moily and Head of the National Cancer Institute, AIIMS, Delhi, Prof Goura Kishore Rath graced the funtion.
Forty students were presented their PhD degrees, two got the Chancellor’s Gold Medals and 39 others University Gold Medals besides 323 students were given their post graduate degrees and 1950 students their graduation degrees.