Vibha Sharma, Tribune News Service
Phagwara, May 20. President Pranab Mukherjee today voiced deep concern over the flight of bright young minds from India for “better quality higher education” abroad and the country’s lost position in the field.
Pitching for the revival of India’s “lost glory” in the area of higher education, Mukherjee urged academic institutions to take the lead in providing education conforming to international standards.
Speaking at the third convocation ceremony of Lovely Professional University, a function which was also attended by Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai, Mukherjee regretted the fact that there was not a single Indian university among the top universities in the world even though there was a time when the country was known as a hub of world-class universities with the likes of Nalanda and Takshashila that attracted scholars from all over the world.
The President said these famed universities continued to function as an outstanding system until about 1200 AD and from there on, India lost its position to other countries.
“And today, we do not have any top-ranked university. The ancient Indian universities attracted students from all over the world but today, many bright young minds from India go abroad for better quality higher education.
It will be our undoing if we cannot draw our students to seek higher education in their own country. How we can revive the lost glory of our higher education system is a matter of deep introspection,” he said.
He urged Indian universities to create at least one centre of excellence with some out-of-box thinking and innovative research that can turn theoretical knowledge into a marketable product. Underlining the need of vocationalisation of education, he said: “There cannot be progress without innovation, research and development.”
Mukherjee also conferred an honorary degree on Afghanistan President at the convocation – the first honoris causa degree awarded by the Punjab-based private university with nearly 30,000 on-campus students.
He also awarded gold medals and degrees to qualified students.
Terming education as a tool that can significantly shape the minds of the youth, the President also urged universities and other institutes of higher learning to take the lead to start a sustained programme for meeting contemporary moral challenges.
“The recent rise in crimes against women and children is a cause for deep concern. It not only calls for effective measures for their safety and security but also underlines the need in us to sit back and introspect and find ways to arrest the moral degradation in our society,” he said.
He also pointed out that the shortage of faculty had hampered India’s efforts to improve the standard of education and urged for immediate corrective steps.
Meanwhile, Karzai, who was the chief guest at the convocation, praised India for its help in the betterment of Afghanistan. India, as a friend of Afghanistan, had made immense contribution in the uplift of its youths, he said adding that the country had “contributed $ 2 billion from the hard-earned money of its tax-payers for the betterment of Afghanistan.”
He also lauded India’s fast growth in industry, technology and economy. “India is on the path of progress and prosperity. It is one of the greatest civilisations on earth. The power and energy you (students and youths) generate is good for India and beyond,” Karzai, who is here on a three-day visit, said.
Highlighting the need for development of education, especially higher education, in Afghanistan, he said India had 2,000 Afghan students studying in its various universities. Karzai also apologised to Mukherjee, the Government of Punjab and LPU students for having come late. “My plane broke down, thankfully on the ground,” he said, evoking peals of laughter.
The Punjab CM urged the LPU management to open an institute for talented, poor students of border areas.