Address by Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu, Honourable Vice President of India at the Annual Convocation of Birla Institute of Management and Technology, in Greater Noida, Uttar Pradesh on April 11, 2018.

Greater Noida, Uttar Pradesh | April 11, 2018

“I am delighted to address the Annual Convocation-2018 of the Birla Institute of Management and Technology. At the outset, let me convey my greetings and good wishes to all students, parents and faculty, who assembled here today.

It is always an uplifting feeling when one is in a campus of higher learning. I am, therefore, happy to spend time with you all this morning.

All educational institutions from schools to universities are engaged in the noble mission of transformation. The same is true of institutions of higher education like BIMTECH. We often hear that India is a rich country, of not so very rich populace. But in truth, we are blessed with all kinds of natural resources starting with our great Himalayas, the Vindhyas, other mountains across the country, the legendary Ganga, Indus, Cauvery, rich forests in the Himalayan foothills, the Western and Eastern Ghats in peninsular India. We are also endowed with great mineral riches.

We have huge natural skills, sun and wind energy as well, but in my view, our greatest wealth is that of a very young human resource capital. A strikingly young population where every alternate person is below 30 years and this makes us one of the world’s youngest major developing nations.

However, the crucial question is: Are we able to effectively harness this immense human capital? As management students, all of you might be familiar with the words “demographic dividend” in the context of India’s young population. But this rich human potential can turn into a force multiplier only when the youngsters acquire adequate skills and expertise in tune with the requirements of various sectors like industry, agriculture and services.

The educational institutions from elementary schools to universities need to reorient their syllabi and methods of pedagogy to prepare tomorrow’s students, who will not only be articulate and self-confident, but also well-equipped to face the challenges of the 21st century.

This would call for a stable and expanding educational infrastructure at all levels and the Government of India is very much alive to this pressing need. It took many initiatives to promote literacy, high school education, vocational education, science education, besides art and commerce education. The government also accorded top priority to skill development and co-opted institutions like NASSCOM to implement skill upgradation programmes in association with educational and professional bodies.

The progress of such initiatives is being monitored constantly and course corrections are being made wherever needed. The task being of great magnitude, the Union Government is working in conjunction with State Governments as well as various institutions in this mighty nation-building task.

Management institutions like BIMTECH must also focus on research publications. The Recent report by the National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF) for the year 2018, notes that India’s overall share in world publications is only about 4%.

Of the total 83,09,449 research publications in 2016-17, only 3,36,978 are from India. In the management discipline, the share is just 2%. In engineering, it is 6% and pharmacy 5%. Indian institutions must strive to significantly increase the number of publications in peer reviewed international journals.

India’s economy is projected to grow by more than 7 per cent this year. It is expected to become the third largest economy in the world in 10-15 years and also a $10 trillion economy in the future. The growing economy will open a world of opportunities for young Indians, who constitute the majority of our population. Already India has become one of the favorite destinations for FDI in different sectors. This is the best time for talented youth to not only look for opportunities but also create their own businesses. Management students must aspire to be job creators and not job seekers.

Various initiatives like Startup India, Stand Up India and Make in India will help in tapping the entrepreneurial talent in the country.

The youth must take advantage of the opportunities created by the government to push for entrepreneur-based employment. Some well-known India startups have shown the way to others by proving that one can build a good business by combining entrepreneurial talent with technology.

Skilling in different vocations is very crucial for India to emerge as one of the top countries in the manufacturing and services sectors. The Skill India programme seeks to bridge skills deficit in various areas.

Earlier, I referred to the transformative role of education, especially higher education. You know the world is at the cusp of Industrial Revolution 4.0. For us to succeed, our nation needs huge numbers of trained manpower in all areas. It is, therefore, imperative that we all work together and make our schools, colleges and trained institutes excellent centres of learning – not only of academic knowledge but also of skills of diverse kinds.

Here, I would like to recall that India was once known as ‘Vishwaguru’. Dear students, India was famous for its celebrated seats of learning in ancient times. Knowledge-seekers from various parts used to come to Takshashila, Nalanda and other centres of learning. Many subjects, including astronomy, archery and warfare were taught at Takshashila. It was stated that more than 10,000 students used to study at Nalanda.

We need to recapture the past glory and become the global knowledge hub of the 21st century. Our institutions of higher learning must maintain excellent standards without compromising on the rigors of teaching and research. I am confident that institutions like BIMTECH will be in the forefront of providing world class education.

Education does not end with the acquisition of degrees or completion of college curriculum. Real education must help to build your character, capacity and calibre and ensure that you always conduct yourselves with dignity and equanimity, irrespective of the daunting challenges. Education is not only for employment but for empowerment and enlightenment of an individual.

Education should also instil values of honesty, integrity and a sense of empathy. As you all are aware, modern day lifestyle in today’s fast-paced, competitive world is leading to lifestyle diseases like diabetes, heart attacks and cancers.

We need to reverse this trend by returning to our roots— eat time-tested traditional food, take up regular physical activity like yoga and spend more time in the lap of the nature. In fact, we have age-old tradition and culture of respecting trees, rivers and animals. Never tinker with nature and preserve culture for a better future.

Dear students! I would also like to advise you to always remain rooted to our culture and traditions, irrespective of whether you are in India or abroad. Never neglect your parents, mother tongue, motherland and the place of birth—be it village or city.

I am happy to learn of the various initiatives taken by BIMTECH like imparting computer literacy, empowering girl children in nearby villages and taking up adult literacy programmes in prisons in Uttar Pradesh. I particularly commend your initiative to familiarize students with the realities of the rural India.

The world has recognised our prowess in many areas of technology, including software applications and related skills. I am sure that institutions like BIMTECH would focus on areas like Artificial Intelligence, Internet of Things, Machine Learning and Analytics. This alone would enable the would-be-managers to take on the emerging challenges.

We have a long way to go in catching up with the advanced countries and aspiring managers like you must be in the forefront of this transformative effort, especially in a building a knowledge-centric, new India.

Knowledge has no frontiers, no boundaries. You must develop the ability to access the state-of-the-art in the field you have chosen. You must be able to learn from your seniors and peers. You must have the ability to apply different bits and pieces of information and convert them into useful knowledge. You must be a problem-solver, innovator, who constantly seeks solutions to challenges in the contemporary world.

It is often said that intelligence plus character is the goal of true education. I am sure that BIMTECH would have helped you to build on these traits. I am also sure that you will uphold ethical values, inclusive mindset and the passion to lead from the front in all your endeavours.

In conclusion, I wish you all the very best in your career and life and hope that you will use your knowledge for the betterment of the society and the nation.