IITs and Other Institutes tasked to do research on societal problems

Aug 17: The Vice President, Shri M Venkaiah Naidu today emphasized that research at IITs and other higher education institutes must be relevant to society and focus on finding solutions to various problems faced by mankind from climate change to health issues.

Inaugurating the Diamond Jubilee Celebrations of Delhi IIT through a video conference, he said Indian institutions will be counted among the world’s best only when they start impacting the societies around them by developing optimal and sustainable solutions to the problems faced by the nation

Calling for greater investment in R & D projects which focus on finding solutions to societal problems, the Vice President urged the private sector to collaborate with the academia in identifying such projects and fund them liberally.

He also emphasised that research should focus on making the lives of people comfortable, quicken the progress and ensure a more equitable world order. Calling upon the IITians to pay attention to the problems faced by the farmers and rural India, Shri Naidu asked them to work not only for enhancing agri-production, but also give special focus on production of nutritious and protein rich food.

Asking the higher education institutions not to work in silos and form a symbiotic relationship with the industry to develop cutting-edge technology, he said the industry experts in various areas should act as mentors in guiding researchers. “This type of collaboration will help in fast-tracking projects and produce quicker results”, he added.   

Expressing his happiness that the New Education Policy seeks to promote India as a global study destination, Shri Naidu pointed out that only eight Indian institutions figured in the top 500 globally.

He said this situation has to change and there has to be a concerted and collective action from all the stakeholders—governments, universities, educationists and the private sector to bring about a radical improvement in the standards and quality of education of our institutes of higher learning.

Observing that there is a huge potential for India to become a world leader in various technological domains given the demographic advantage and the presence of highly talented youth, the Vice President said “the need of the hour is to impart quality education”.

Lauding IIT Delhi for emerging as a leader in the entrepreneurship space, Shri Naidu said: “It is good to note that Institutions such as IIT Delhi are producing job providers rather than job seekers and becoming trendsetters for other institutions in the country”.

On this occasion, the Vice President also released the Diamond Jubilee logo and IIT Delhi 2030 strategy document.

Minister for Education Dr. Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank, Prof. V. Ramgopal Rao, Director of IIT Delhi and others were present on the occasion.

Following is the full text of the speech –

It gives great pleasure to take part in this joyous occasion and inaugurate your Diamond Jubilee celebrations.

Sixty years is an important milestone in an institute’s history. I congratulate the present and the past faculty, students and staff on this momentous occasion.

IIT Delhi has made rapid strides in the last six decades and today is counted among the reputed institutions in the world. It is also recognized by the Government of India as an ‘Institution of Eminence’. It is heartening to note that over half of India’s Unicorns have come out of this single institute.

I am aware that IIT Delhi graduates are present across the world and have made an impact in different spheres of life, be it as technocrats, researchers and scientists or as writers and even as politicians. I am told that many IIT Delhi faculty members have been winners of Padma awards, Bhatnagar Prizes, Fellows of national and international academies and winners of other notable recognitions

The contribution of the faculty plays an important role in shaping an institution and I must pay compliments to all the faculty members of IIT Delhi.

I am told that the institute is planning to file over 200 patents this year as against 153 patents filed in 2019. I am also happy to note that IIT Delhi has emerged as a leader in the entrepreneurship space in the country. It is good to note that Institutions such as IIT Delhi are producing job providers rather than job seekers and becoming trendsetters for other institutions in the country.

I have also been informed that IIT Delhi is the first institution in the country to launch an endowment fund and the alumni of IIT Delhi are following the motto of giving back to the country. That indeed reflects the essence of India’s culture of sharing and caring. I feel that it is the duty of every Indian, who achieved success, fame and wealth in life, to give back to the society and the country. One should never forget one’s native place and the motherland.

Dear students & faculty members,

We are interacting in the midst of a pandemic that has disrupted every sphere of activity and impacted the world economy.  I am happy that the IITs across the country have taken up several projects relating to COVID-19, including development of low-cost ventilators, PPEs, testing kits, sanitization, robots and other equipment, apart from AI (Artificial Intelligence) studies on epidemic patterns and disease dynamics. While finding answers to various challenges posed by COVID-19, we should be better prepared to tackle any future pandemic. For that to happen, there should be greater collaboration and synergy between experts from different domains. I would like IIT Delhi and other institutions to look into this aspect.

The research at IITs and other higher education institutes must be relevant to society and focus on finding solutions to various problems faced by mankind from climate change to health issues. There is also a need to promote multidisciplinary research and industry-academia linkage. The higher education institutions must not work in silos and seek to connect with the industry. There should be a symbiotic relationship between the two to take up cutting-edge technology.

At the same time, there should be greater investment in R & D projects which focus on finding solutions to societal problems. I call upon the private sector, including the industry bodies like CII and Assocham, to collaborate with the academia in identifying such projects and fund them liberally. As a matter-of-fact, the industry experts in various areas should act as mentors in guiding researchers. This type of collaboration will help in fast-tracking projects and producing quicker results.   

I am told that IIT Delhi is laying great emphasis on internationalization, interdisciplinary research and industry connect. These steps are very important for our institutions to improve their international standing and become visible to the industry and the society by providing solutions to problems.

As Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi jee has always maintained, while science is global, technologies are local. Indian institutions will be counted among the world’s best only when they start impacting the societies around them by developing optimal and sustainable solutions to the problems faced by the nation. This is a way forward for Indian institutions to be counted among the world’s best and for the nation to regain its rightful place as Vishwa Guru. IITs must take the lead in this journey.

Dear sisters and brothers,

India has had a long and illustrious history of holistic education. The aim of education in ancient India was not just the acquisition of knowledge but also of wisdom, complete realization and liberation of the self.

The ancient Indian education system had produced scholars like Charaka and Susruta, Aryabhatta, Bhaskaracharya, Chanakya, Patanjali and numerous others. They made seminal contributions to the collective knowledge of the world in diverse fields such as mathematics, astronomy, metallurgy, medical science and surgery, civil engineering and architecture, shipbuilding and navigation, yoga, fine arts and chess, among others.

I am happy to note that the New Education Policy seeks to promote India as a global study destination providing premium education at affordable costs, thereby helping to restore its role as a Vishwa Guru.  The move to facilitate selected universities from among the top 100 in the world to operate in India will help in promoting excellence in education.

The NEP also mentioned that internationalization of education will be facilitated through both institutional collaborations, and student and faculty mobility. The proposal to set up an Inter-University Centre for International Education in Indian universities will go a long way in promoting international standards and institutional collaborations.

I am confident that NEP will create the necessary ecosystem in the coming years for Indian Institutions to vastly improve global rankings.

As per the QS World University Ranking 2021, only three Indian institutions figured in the top 200–Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Bombay at 172nd position; Indian Institute of Science (IISc) Bangalore at 185th spot and IIT Delhi at 193.

Also, only eight Indian institutes found a place in the top 500 of QS World University Ranking 2021. This situation has to change and there has to be a concerted and collective action from all the stakeholders—governments, universities, educationists and the private sector to bring about a radical improvement in the standards and quality of education of our institutes of higher learning.

There is a huge potential for India to become a world leader in various technological domains given the demographic advantage and the presence of highly talented youth.

The need of the hour is to impart quality education, convert this vast pool of educated manpower into highly skilled work force in tune with the requirements of the digitally-driven, knowledge-based 21st century. In fact, we have the capability to not only meet the requirements in the country but many other nations, particularly those with ageing populations.

Dear sisters and brothers,

With more than 50% of our population still dependent on agriculture, it is important for IITs to start major research programmes to boost the rural economy through development of sustainable technologies. I am happy to note that IIT Delhi is the national coordinating institute for the Unnat Bharat Abhiyan (UBA) programme of Ministry of Education and is playing a strong catalytic role. I am told that UBA already has more than 2000 Participating Institutions (PIs), which have adopted more than 10,000 villages.

Before concluding, I would like to congratulate IIT Delhi for completing 60 years of journey and for the numerous contributions institution has made for the national development. IITs are the pride of the nation and the country has huge expectations from these institutions and looks up to them for science and technological leadership in the years to come.